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Back on private transport this morning and we took a 2 hour bus trip to Rila Monastery. Built for Saint John the miracle-working hermit from the 9th Century, it is located in a beautiful spot in the hills, and surrounded by snow capped mountains. It is an incredible place for the monastery, which was rebuilt in the 19th century, so quite modern and has a very distinctive look. We had a quick glance through the church, as, by this stage, we have seen a fair few churches. ...
We hiked up to Ivan Rila's tomb. Had some time on our own with the ward who introduced us to the tame robins that flew on my hand.
Many Bulgarians come up to this place for religious reasons, leave whishes in the wall, fetch source's water. Interesting to see where the Orthodox Church leaves room for connectedness with nature. I however don't believe that Ivan slept in this cave for 7 years without even preparing himself a mattress.
We tried to venture over from the lift station to Ivan Vazov Hut. We knew that the hut is open and we had food for self-supply with us. There was quite some new snow lately unfortunately after a snow-meagre winter. Later the day bad weather came in that was forecasted to sustain for the following days. All in all reasons for us to buy a ticket on the lift down again and postpone the Rila mountain crossing to a later date.
Sapareva Banya allows for recreational and therapeutic swimming. It's the Kneipp kind of change between quite hot and icing cold. On weekends it can get quite crowded because it's on easy driving distance from Sofia.
Sapareva Banya also has a big open-air fountain of thermal water.
Local food is very ...
... No discount when staying many nights though. For booking we needed a native speaker to call (e-mail not found).
Nice walk down to Sapareva Banya, takes a little more than 2 hrs. Walking up to the lift station that brings you to the seven lakes takes 1h20.