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Today we visited a gorgeous, serene monastery in the lush mountains of Bulgaria. It was so nice to be in nature after spending an entire month just in cities. In addition to the great landscape surrounding the monastery, the architecture and decor of the structures was ...
... gas station stop so that the other van could catch up to us.
The tour guide (who was in the other van) walked us into the monastery and gave us a brief history of when and why it was built, before setting us loose.
Rila is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and it's clear why this was selected as a place of meditation. 72 steps up the tower, and I had a great view of the picturesque mountains and the monastery.
In addition to having time to climb ...
Rila Monastery is worth every superlative I can muster!
The journey there was a smooth one through the mountains south of Sofia. We went in a minibus organised by our hostel; a group of young Japanese guys were with us. We had eaten a large breakfast, and on the journey we shared a very large sweet bun, so we didn't need any more food until we'd got back to Sofia.
Originally we were going to be visiting a special cave which lies beyond the monastery first, ...
... also do that outside. After unpacking our bags, we drove to Borovets to check if it had snow to ski :) I am not being funny, but when we landed in Sofia, we could not see snow from the airplane and were a bit concerned. Anyway... There was just enough in Borovets. Done a quick stroll along main strip, where they had plenty of bars and restaurants, oh! and few strip clubs. As we were taking pictures of the main slope opposite Rila Hotel, one of ...
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.