Thursday, September 01, 2005

Trip to the Rila Monastery

So yesterday I wrote a big old post about my first impressions of Sofia which I promptly lost due to the crashing of the hotel's internet.

Don't expect a big post tonight.

I just got back from an exciting adventure to the Rila Monastery (south of Sofia in the Rodope mountains). My traveling companion was down with a stomach flu, so off I went by myself, on local buses, through the countryside of Bulgaria, not speaking a word of Russian or Bulgarian, and the Bulgarians seemingly not speaking any French, German or English.

The trip was well worth it - the Bulgarian countryside is simply stunning, and ranks in the top five most beautiful countries I've ever been to. Rolling hills, mountains, cliffs, greenery, brownery, greyery - 8 million people in a big country means that even with agriculture there's a lot of room for nature to just be wild.

Also, while I immediately noticed upon arriving to Sofia that it is about 10 years behind Hungary in economic development and 5 years behind Hungary in terms of the cars people drive, traveling around the countryside made me appreciate how different Bulgaria really is than Hungary. The people, while poorer than the Hungarians, seem somehow happier, or at least more laid back (the Hungarians are horribly depressed people). I'm assuming this is in part because they aren't neighboring any Western countries who they have to constantly compare themselves to, and because anything's better than Ottomans, and they're still thankful for their freedom (which only happened in the late 19th century).

So today I saw myriads of cafes in tiny towns, people sitting and relaxing, and donkeys. Oh, and even a goat on a rock on the side of a mountain. One of the odder things I noticed was driving through the outskirts of an industrial-looking town (belching smokestacks) and seeing that while it was industrial, people were driving home cattle, sheep and goats and the locals were rounding up their animals for the night.

Anyway. It's time for me to eat. A bag of chips, two espressos, a bottle of Fanta and a bottle of water isn't quite enough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so jealous.

also, i didn't realize that fanta was an international product. thanks for enlightening me :P

12:18 AM  

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