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... I am already thinking of Sunday night dinner, trying to put this trip in the rearview mirror [but not first without a couple more WHS's].
Daniela mentioned about 'those of you who want' to traipse around Philippi. Who wouldn't? Apparently Red and the Mouse might not want to [but did]. We have a site guide and do the museum on our own.
It was a long haul uphill inland but we were at Philippi shortly after 0820. There was a bit of uncertainty with ...
10 of us jumped into two private buses this morning with our driver, Jorgi again, to drive up the nearby ski resort of Mt Vihen, at around 2500 metres. Our guide, Kraski, was a local ski instructor. He had won three bronze and one silver in the Bulgarian downhill and slalom so a pretty fit character. He took us for a half an hour walk up the hillside to a lake, through the snow.
We thought it was going to be a ...
... Monti, one of the blind bears, had a 3/4 acre area, whereas they had several in various enclosures ranging from 6 acres to about 9 acres. There are about 32 bears here in total. Most of the bears had re-learned how to hibernate and one was now hibernating for 6 months of the year. One of the other ones, still hadn't hibernated at all. In all, it was tragic to hear about the bears's former lives but incredibly rewarding to see them now in a much better environment
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.