Euro development explosion...

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So I think this town may have been charming and quaint and traditional and all that at one time but now, it's hard to find that with the explosion of develpment that's going on.  Lots of EU money pouring into Bulgaria it seems and the streets are littered with real estate companies, develpoment 'opportunities' and construction galore.  Clearly lots of people are making money here.  It's quite a juxtaposition of cultures...scarf clad peasant women walking the sidewalks (when they aren't covered in construction debris) and horse and donkey pulled carts with hay or people in the back amongst condominium developments and large homes shooting up every which way.  If you peek behind many of the new developments, expecially the single family homes, you can see an old barn or other older structures reminicent of times long gone.

Think Lake Tahoe without the lake...lots of stunning mountains and views and a very relaxed, laid back vibe (minus the construction stuff).  

Also, the food in Bulgaria is loads better than in Romania.  We have been enjoying wonderful freshly grilled vegetable dishes here..they come out on scathing hot earthenware plates and grill up before your eyes...the wine is palatable and the prices are fairly inexpensive for European standards.  More than once I have asked for directions and had the locals walk me to my destination which is amazing. 

Some of my tourmates went to the Dancing Bear Sanctuary outside of town where many of the Dancing Bears in Bulgaria live after they were rescued from their former lives of bondage and torture.  Apparently, their paws are greased and they are forced to step on hot plates 'dancing' (they are constantly lifting their feet so that they don't get burned) with a cord string through their tender nostrils...held by their owners.  Some of the bears they saw, were still moving back and forth in this manner, traumatized from years of 'dancing'.   It's a tradition that's also found in other places in the world...unfortunately.

On the way to Bankso, we visited the Rila Monastery and that was definately a highlight...located in the mountains, reminded me a bit of the Tibetan Monasteries except this one is Orthadox Christian.  Elaborately painted murals inside and out of the church which was surrounded by multi-story buildings completely enclosing the coutyard and providing housing for those that live at the monastery.  Right outside the gate we found home-made donuts...score and Jess, of course, found her glass of red wine.... : )
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