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... Steve's Mum would have been in heaven as she is a big fan of donkeys and one kindly local offered one of the girls, Al, a ride on one. Al politely declined. All of the locals smiled and waved at 13 tourists strolling down their main street, it was really quite charming. I'm not sure if this would happen in other parts of the world but clearly our groups bring a bit of money to the village and the locals seem to embrace it.
Interesting tradition we ...
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.
... Intense vegetables, well bbq-ed but generally the dishes are heavy on meat.
I imagine the Rila forests take long to grow. They have quite some misty microclimate that sometimes allows huge algae-like moss to grow from the branches. Hiker's trails are badly signed though, somteimes it's not easy to navigate.
... 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.