A jewel in Eastern Europe September 10 - September 26 - 2021

Bulgaria! Now, where do I start?
It’s a country unlike other European countries I’ve visited. Right from the food to culture to people. 
Sofia is gorgeous. There is so much to see and admire. The number of Italian establishments came as a surprise.
The people are still spiritual and conservative. It shows in their dressing and their regard for religious spaces. 
The many monasteries, churches and other architecture have their own charm. I loved how we could be in a courtyard with hundreds of noisy people but once they walked into the church, everyone went absolutely silent. 
Unfortunately due to the pandemic there were no guided visits. This is coupled with the fact that they don’t have much of their information translated. It left me asking for more. 
Nessebar îs lovely, great views, bad food. A bit too touristy for me. I preferred Sozopol. Rocks and water and lovely little restaurants that served up some of the best dinners we had in Bulgaria
The Veleka river is a short drive from there and kayaking or a boat trip to watch the wildlife should definitely make the agenda. The beach is also amazing! Getting there is a bit of a drive over not even gravel roads, but it’s worth it. 
The valley of roses is divine and I’d love to revisit in May when they have their festivals. 
We got lucky with the weather. Only one huge storm one evening. Sunny weather the rest of the time.
Great roads for convertible driving. Not so great roads if you are not into rallies. 
Great views. Amazing hiking options. Mountains and Beaches. Accessible and not overly crowded. 
Pristine water although the plastic dotting the countryside was a bit of a bummer. 
Since it isn’t a densely populated country and because it’s not yet on every tourist’s list, off peak was beyond amazing. 
Home to one of the oldest continuously inhabited city, they are working at restoring their architecture and promoting it. It’s quite awe inspiring to step into a space and know that Neanderthals once slept there, or Thracian rulers once walked those same paths. 
Communism left it’s mark. Ugly blocks of apartments (mostly disused) and empty villages. 
The people are not impolite, but aren’t the most friendly and ready to have a conversation. I only managed to get 3 of them 
Very flat bottoms. I normally don’t notice such things, but it was so absent that it made me fixate on it. 
Having to pay separately to take pictures inside. 
Pandemic disbelievers and vocal about it too.
Steeped in history. 
Once you start moving 
Cats. Lots of them. Everywhere. 
Art everywhere … and quite economical too. 
White wine… loads of it
Rose oil to die for. 
Old cars to marvel at. 

Day 1
— Madrid – Sofia
– Magnolia
– The nicest airport and security personnel. One even carrying my cameras to a table for me to stop stressing about getting it all in without holding the line up. Madrid you surprise me.
– The most spectacular take off with “The Simpsons” like clouds … y
– A promising entry into Sofia … a bit too fast, but phew…
– First time using a bellhop.
– A talkative receptionist.
– Food that was just an explosion of flavour. A very strong reminscence of it’s Arabic influences. Berkovska liutivka.
– Lights … lots and lots of fairy lights. (some in the shape of beer jugs)
– Gorgeous view from the hotel.
– A chauffer wishing that Bulgaria gets on par with other European city. I’ve sampled those cities… keep your uniqueness. It’s amazing.

— Sofia – Sofia
– Being in the midst of artefacts from the 3rd century
– State vs church
– Walking until our feet refused to move.
– Spanish in Bulgaria… the siesta has to be used.
– Witnessing a baptism… the cutting of hair, the mini procession. the singing. the camiradarie between priest and kid. The smiling kid that changed from clothes to towel to white vestiments.
– The relationship between priest and family.
– Cancelling a reservation on finding a chatty waiter.

— Sofia – Stob – Rila – Separeva Bana
– A rode diverged in the woods and we ended up on a 30 minute hike. The pyramids of Stob were calling. Tired, dehydrated, it took all my will to get up there. Loved it.
– The gorgeous, overfilled monastery of Rila.
– The faith of the people. The reverence. The murmurred prayers.
– little kids running around and saying hello with shy smiles.
– A geyser that disappointed after the Icelandic Geiser.
– The earliest dinner we’ve ever had. For the first time reviews didn’t let us down. Everything was amazingly tasty.
– Young girls waiting on their dates rushing to open the door on hearing our car. Never has a wrong turn brought me so much delight.
– Sunset … What a joy to behold.

— Separeva Bana – Rila lakes – Plovdiv
– A drive through the most picturesque mountains to get to the cable car.
– My First cable lift. Felt like it was never going to end…. geez.
– The beautiful lakes of Rila.
– An overambitious hike in the wrong kind of shoes. So many lessons and leisions from a singe 5 hour walk through the mountains. But the photos … OMG!
– Helping two Belgians make the right trekking choices.
– Finishing the hike. Despite the looks. Despite the wrong attire. Despite the numerous stops for photos.
– Cleavage to indicate the womens’s bathroom. A bowtie for the men…. I don’t fit into either box 🙂
– A chatty receptionist, helpful and a sight for sore eyes.
– A quiet town with much promise.
– Tired feet. Happy heart.

— Plovdiv – Plovdiv
– The owner who introduced himself and was kindness personified.
– A 2000 year old theatre. Being surrounded by history.
– Wool shopping.
– The other receptionist making us welcome.
– Lunch guests. Three little kittens.
– A felting crash course and a great purchase. The girl was so helpful.
– A town that seemed sleepy during the day, came to life in an unexpected way. Such a joy.
– Fairy lights reflected in a wine glass
– Abstract photography.

— Plovdiv – Plovdiv
– A slow start to the day.
– More places to explore.
– Seeing so many beautiful places.
– Bulgaria’s history, Ottoman’s tyranny. So much we don’t know.
– Abstarct art that won me over.
– Gorgeous use of colour that filled my head with ideas.
– People willing to explain things to the tourists.
– An artitst who blew my mind. k.art.inna on instagram.
– Easily the best waiting staff we’ve had in Bulgaria.
– Wool shopping ….. 3 bags full.
– First feather done.
– Sparkly nails.
– Wine and Terry Pratchett.

— Plovdiv – Black Sea Coast – Nessebar
– A beautiful old town
– Fairy lights, sea breeze and the smell of food being barbecued
– A beautiful sunset
– Watching the city lights reflecting in the water from the terraza of the room
– Suprising an old lady by showing up to buy her fibreart.
– Gorgeous ruins
– The sound of the sea while knitting under the stars

— Nessebar – Sozopol
– Old town beauties. Love when an effort is made to restore old glory.
– Found perfect gifts… none to sell them though.
– Eggs… those huge, red eggs… what were they?
– A gorgeous town. Sotzopol.
– Little kittens all over town.
– A waitress who did her best to communicate.
– A gorgeous view from the hotel window.
– Live music and great food.
– One of the best desserts Bulgaria has offered up. Rose mousse on a base of chocolate soil.
– Knitting to the sound of waves lashing against the rocks.

— Sozopol – Sozopol
– Veleka River. Quiet, Gentle, Beautiful.
Unfortunately the boat trip didn’t pan out and kayaking was out of the question.
– The gorgeous beach of Veleka.
– The feeling of cold, salty water buffetting me.
– Witnessing a beach wedding.
– A snake on the windscreen.
– A drive through such
– there be dragons
– A castle built in 1996. Like all instagrammers… Fake!
– The best pizza in Solopoz. He wasn’t kidding.
– Finally getting a taste of the famous green fig jam.
– Rain. Torrents of it. The entire atmosphere is charged.

— Sozopol – Kazanlak (Vally of the Roses) – Shipka – Tryanva
– A windy, wet start to the day. Water against the rocks creating such drama.
– Stopping for a coffee and meeting 2 little girls and their mum. Beautiful blue and hazel eyes.
– They also introduced us to their 3 little kittens. Such joy.
– The little girl with wool acting as tresses in her hair just so that she could have the same hairstyle as her elder sister.
– Knitting in the car. A first and such a useful use of my time on boring highways.
– The rose museum. Getting over my apprehension of the ittar smell I associated with Roses. Rose Oil is gorgeous. Even the sanitiser had it and it had smelling my fingers for hours.
– Guns and Roses
– A 3 BC tomb. Medusa and
– A gorgeous drive in the mountains. A chance to try new techniques and blur.
– Feeling proud of my compositional skills. See a huge leap forward from my spray and pray methodology.
– This sparked an idea for a project. Life’s a blur.
– Communism ain’t pretty
– A city in the valley. Beautiful cobbled street and pink clouds that dotted the skyline.
– A hungry little kitten who only wanted veal.

— Tryanva – Tryanva
– Caves inhabited by the Neadrethals
– A camel, llama, goat, donkey, ram and other animals at lunch
– Vegetatian dishes winning all the way. Potato croquetas with mushroom, yoghurt and pumpkin seeds. Texture, taste, experience … win.
– A house made by teacher and student. The student won and won the girl too. Carved daisies in the ceilings for her.
– A thundershower that had me in it’s spell.
– Hearing just the right words when I realised I messed up my limerick shawl.

— Tryanva – Etara – Tryanva
A chilly morning in the middle of the woods … and what awaits us is the artesenal village of Etara.
The lovely little village of Etara where culture is kept alive. Such places should be created everywhere.
Met so many wonderful artists.
Learned to dye wool with natural products. Made a few samples too.
She crocheted me a bracelet too and even switched on the machines to make rope use in garments.
An apple. Such a simple gesture. Such a lovely gift. Given that these people don’t have much, I’m always moved by their generosity.
Silver work.
A weaver that only used goat hair. Gorgeous.
Finding out the history of the little mountain villages.
Getting a different view on communism.
– Cooking with homegrown products. Such a difference in taste. A veritable feast.
– An evening with a little star ‘strellina’. Such a pretty baby.
– Driving through unlit crazy mountain roads.

— Tryanva – Veliko Tarnovo
– Waze taking us through crazy old old town.
– A lovely lunch in a lovely little restaurant
– A wine tasting session.
– Dinner … hmmm…
– A panoramic view of the town.
– Sound and light show. Moving. Such lovely imagery. Would have loved to see it end with fireworks.

— Veliko Tarnovo – Oreshak
– A leather bag I love and can use.
– An early morning walk through history. The best thing is that no one was around. Veliko Tarnovo is such a gorgeous town.
– Driving throught gorgeous mountain trails.
– The lovely Art hotel. Such art everywhere.
– The Jesuits of Bulgaria. Troyan Monastery.
– Seeing so much art and artistry around. Ceramic that we love.
– More dogs than cats…that’s a first

— Oreshak – Sofia
A white socked black cat that pranced across the street


Little things to like
– Traffic lights with countdowns.
– Kittens everywhere.
– The smell of jam everywhere we go.
– Art. So much of it. Such beauty to behold.
– The Illuminati symbol in all churches.

Some things I didn’t
– That wee bit abruptness.
– Being called a Nazi or stupid for choosing to wear a mask. I’m respecting your unvaccinated arses. Maybe I shouldn’t.

Names like Pharis and Horizont

  • August 02, 2023

    Madrid, Spain To Dubai

    Madrid, España

    Time for a short adios and a swap of hand luggage. Before we knew it, we were air borne, off to have an adventure. TBH though the prep began months before. Vaccines, Donations, Insurance, Details, Details, Details.

    From Madrid to Dubai. A hotel for the long overlay courtesy the Emirates. It was the heat that caught us by surprise 39 degrees at almost 0100 hours.


  • August 17, 2023


    Madrid, España

    • Day 14: The adventure ended, but the memories remain, and so do the friends.