Iglika Palace Hotel
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... to the nearby olde worlde tavern for some delicious chicken soup and a massive baked loaf of monastery bread. All the while sitting next to an open log fire, as it was a wee bit chilly in tham thar mountains. Very nice ambience.
We then arrived at the wee village of Gorno Draglishte, pop 1000, and settled into our new hotel. GD is a lovely place and Andie took us on a stroll around the village and showed us where the locals had their fields of vegetables ...
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.