BULGARIA, DAY 1

We finished off yesterday with a substantial dinner at a very non-touristic place (Mister Uli), which was also recommended to us by our host. In short, the evening went like this: searching for the place, getting lost, finding the place, entering, strong feeling of “not fitting in”, taking a seat, plastic table-cloth, hand-written menu – panic!, decoding the cyrilic, communication with the waitress using Google Translator, frustrating the waitress, strong feeling of “not fitting in”, Shopska salad, wine, diminishing feeling of “not fitting in”, grilled steak, mild feeling of “not fitting in”, Rakia, apathy, Rakia, sympathies for the rude waitress, Rakia, strong feeling of “fitting in”….

What are we going to eat tonight? That’s a difficult question…

…We left as the very last guests…


Next morning we pack our bags, leave the polished appartement and head into the mountains. I can’t wait! We have basically no plan, we only know our next destination – town named Dupnitsa, which lies near the Rila mountain range. From there we will hopefully be able to get further…In the worst case, we will just walk. In the end we got much much further than we could have ever imagined…and all that thanks to one unexpected encounter…

Anna

We are at the Dupnitsa bus station. Thomas is trying to decipher the bus timetable while my eyes are roving around. “Wait“, I stop for a moment…”WHAT IS THAT? Wow! I for sure like pink and bold colours but this?…This, my friend, is what I call NEXT LEVEL SHIT” My sight clings to a middle-aged woman in varicolored baggy pants. She´ s seated at the bus stop leaning on her tourist backpack. Her hair is wrapped in a turban from a green Palestinian scarf. She wears many bracelets and colourful bobbles around the neck. “Look, that’s our kind of a person”, I blurt out and decide to approach her. Her name is Anna and to my pleasant surprise she speaks fluent English. Coincidentally, she too, is heading into the mountains. More precisely, to the Rila Lakes Hut and from there further to an Old Hut by a Fish Lake (Ribnoto ezero). Without further hesitation, we join her. A moment later the three of us are boarding a bus to Sapareva Banja. From there, Anna secures a shuttle for the total price of 10 lev (approx. 5 EUR) which takes us to the cable-car. Instead of a cable-car, we take a ride with a Jeep which turns out to be cheaper (3 lev per person = EUR 1.50) and more exciting option. From the upper cable-car station, we continue on foot.

On the way, we learn from Anna that she’s actually heading for an annual gathering of “spiritual enthusiasts” called the White Brotherhood. According to her narration it seems like a big deal. Every year hundreds to thousands people from all over the world come to Rila lakes. OK, well…we had no idea what one can see in the Bulgarian mountains….Anna describes the rituals practiced by the Brotherhood, their values and also tells stories about the founder of this religious movement – Bulgarian theologist, whose name I forgot. I have mixed feelings – on one hand I’m excited about what we might see and experience, on the other hand, I worried about the number of people we might need to be around. Luckily it seems that we are here relatively early – 2 weeks before the main even – the celebration of their New Year taking place on August 19th. A view opens up in front of us and we can already see the Old Hut in the distance. I can see numerous coloured dots (= the tents¨) spread around the hut…”So this is early, you say?” In that case, I can’t even imagine how this place will look in 2 weeks time…

Sunset at the Old Hut


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