Sofia and Rila Monastery

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Monday, August 8, 2005

A bus and cab ride later we were in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. The weather had turned horrible and cold again so we had to pull out the gortex. There were no Bulgarian grannies to meet us at the bus station so we had to find a hostel. Our first dorm for a very, very, long time!!! It was small which was good, but I still had the worry of snoring strangers that you can't do anything about.

The Lonely Planet usually has a suggested walking tour that takes in some of the major points of interest of a city so we followed that around for a while. Some of the things we saw were the Aleksnader Nevski Church which was a huge memorial for the soldiers that died fighting for Bulgaria's freedom in 1877-1878. It was very impressive and absolutely massive. Some lovely churches were the Church of St Sofia, St Nikolai Russian Church and Sveta Nedelya Cathedral (also huge). I love the orthodox churches. There are usually no pews but just chairs around the walls. They have loads of different pictures of various saints that you can kiss and say a little prayer to. People write notes and stick them behind the pictures or leave money. The walls are usually painted and have huge carved facings that shut off the main front nave thing where the priests go and hide. Oil lamps that hang down. They're lovely.

Sofia has a really nice feel to it.

We found an inside market that sold everything from olives to hardware. So we bought some really yummy mini choclate eclairs and baklava.

We found a restaurant with loads on the menu and cheap wine. I love Bulgarian food!!

Next day. We had decided to go with a hostel day trip instead of trying to get to Rila Monastery on our own. It sounded like a bugger trying to get four different buses and then walking for ages. Expensive but at least we could spend more time wandering round the Monastery. It was a over a two hour drive so imagine how long it would have taken on the buses!!

Again, like the other monasteries we've visited so far, it's in a beautiful location in the mountains. Peaks surrounding it. The sun was shining but it must look even more lovely in winter. It's the largest monastery in Bulgaria and apparently is THE major attraction for Bulgarian pilgrims. It was originally built in 927 but was practically destroyed by fire in the 19th century then restored. There is only one original tower remaining. It has a souvenir shop at the bottom where you can buy all your religious necessities. Rosaries, crosses, pictures of saints etc. We took loads of pics and wandered round the sleeping quarters. You can't go in any of them but there are great views from the balconies and you can peer into some of the rooms. It was nice but I enjoyed the smaller monasteries im Romania far more.

Sofia is a great place and I'd love to go back. Especially for the wine and food! The people are really friendly too. Rila Monastery was good to see but it was one of those places like Prague. People rave about it so much so my expectations were quite high but after the monasteries of Bukovina, it had alot to match up to.

Bulgaria, I can't wait to go again.
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budz888 on

Rila Monastery
No more wandering around the upper floors of the monastery I'm afraid... it's become too famous.

Kevin Romaya on

I visited the place above, it was awesome. I used to have a friend from Bulgaria that got me interested in traveling to the country at the time which i didn't do until this year while stopping to Greece. I went there for two weeks to Sofia and liked the people and friends I made there.. I liked it so much that i'm interested in buying a luxury apartment in the downtown area. The prices are really good at about 90,000 euros new and furnished it will be a nice summer home. The place has security and gated parking for high end cars. You can't find a good deal like that in eastern Europe i have looked. I've put down offers and I am going to do it I found a good international attorney to secure the deal for me and will close by spring 2011. Would recommend the place for travel to anyone. Utilities are cheap and living expenses are low.

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