It’s time to say good bye to the Old Hut and to the Sedemte Ezera Hut. Next stop – Maljovica Hut. Before we reach it, we will have to descend and ascend back up to 2,050 m.a.s.l. The day is spectacular. Perhaps a little bit too hot. We keep sinking down the valley. Soon the rocks are gone and we find ourselves in the forest.
When I’m hiking in the mountains, I always remember one foolish story my mum once told me. It was about a jester who was always weeping when he was going down the hill because he knew that he will have to climb back up. On the contrary, he was always smiling when was climbing up the hill as he knew that he will go down again. I often catch myself acting exactly like this jester, who – out of the fear of what’s to come – forgets to enjoy what is….
Around the noon we find ourselves on a wide asphalt path which soon leads us right to the Vada Hut. It is a cozy building with wooden components – slightly different story than Ivan Vazov Hut, eventhough the personnel isn’t twice friendly either. But they have an English menu and that counts! We are thirsty and hungry. We order a beer, lemonade, Shopska salad and my favourite local dish – Tarator (cold cucumber-yogurt soup with dill). It’s becoming pretty clear that we will lose some weight here. We burn a lot of calories every day but the food we can enjoy here is actually quite low in calories – vegetable soups, salads, bean soups…
After the enjoyable lunch, the less enjoyable part of the day awaits us – ascending and gaining back the lost elevation. There’s no way around it, so we better be on our way. As we start the climb, I begin to wheeze like a steam-engine and the sweat is pouring down me. “If only I would do more leg days”, I think to myself. “No, that wouldn’t help…”. No gym can prepare you for climbing with 17 kg backpack.
The sun is grilling us alive. I feel my T-skirt soaking in sweat. The path is much more frequented than the one from yesterday – we even meet some people. And the path is also never-ending. We still don’t see any hut. We cross the Bear meadow (Meča poljana) and I’m hoping to see a bear….No, it didn’t work out. We make a refreshing stop by an icy stream in the Maljovica valley. With its crystal-clear water, the stream invites for a bath. But all it took was a dip of a toe for me to realize that I’m not that brave to get inside. Thomas was braver.
Finally our destination – Maljovica Hut appears in front of us.
It’s a lively place. People sit around the tables, sun-bath and drink beer. I don’t like beer and I have never been able to drink more than a sip. Local light lager – Zagorka changed my mind though. Somehow I ended up drinking half a liter of it without even noticing. I’m shocked. Zagorka lacks the bitterness typical for beers, which is likely why it is bearable for me. Thomas also finds it bearable. Twice, actually…Cooled down and refreshed, we head behind the hut to set up our tent. There’s another stream back there with small holmes of greenery. It’s beautiful and the best part is that it’s for free. The only thing we didn’t realize in time was that water and mosquitos go quite well together. And there’s a whole lot of them. But we’re too lazy to move.
We finish the day off with fantastic Balkan cheese fries from a less fantastic waitress who quickly earned a nickname “Annoying Cauliflower” thanks to her wicked soul and 80s haircut. The main issue was not her shitty attitude but rather the fact that she denied us a shower. That was hard to swallow. Not even bribery worked. And so I’m lying all sticky and sweaty in my sleeping bag, listening to annoying mosquito buzzing sounds, contemplating on what the hell happened to those Bulgarians that they are so rude.