📸 — Rila & Melnik, Bulgaria

After Sofia, we rented a car and headed inland to the Rila National Park for some hiking and wine tasting!

The morning started off rough — the car rental office at the airport typically doesn’t open unless flights are arriving even though we requested it earlier (as a result we got on the road later than expected), the weather seemed to have turned on us with fog/rain like clouds and the last few nights were not so great for sleeping (our sleeping cycle was out of whack) thus, we were exhausted. But with an impromptu nap and some fast food energy, we were back on the road and managed to find the sun!

Some other memorable things that happened this week, Maeghan got a cold that made sleep 3 more nights even harder with her coughing and sniffling. And Amelie (Olivier’s sister) welcomed the birth of baby Raphaël — our godson at 2:30am Bulgarian time! 😊 We got the news and FaceTimed in bed locked in a monastery that has a no noise policy which we had to break to celebrate the good news.

The road trip continued to Melnik where we enjoyed wine (that Maeghan couldn’t taste) and great food surrounded by the sand mountains of the national park.

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫
We left Sofia and began our road trip to the Rila National Park, the weather turned on us. We also didn’t sleep much the night before (we all have bad nights) so we decided to pull over and take a break.
Oli slept. While Maeghan ate McDonalds to continue her trend of eating McD’s in every country they visit.
Maeghan’s shoes are wearing thin. But appreciated the comment her sister said “if those shoes could talk..” We’ve been places 😊
To get to the hiking point, you take a chair lift to the top. Its a solid 30 min ride.

The 7 Rila Lakes are as described, 7 lakes in the mountain range of Rila National park scattered between the landscape you hike. It’s 2,500 meters high and we were up for the challenge of hiking with next to no sleep the night before.

Maeghan standing tall by the 3rd lake.
We forgot Wall-e the drone in the car, but this place would have been incredible for it. (Oli cliff gazing!)
There is a cult group that hikes the mountain and built a circle of rocks on the ground where they dance every month. We didn’t see the cult, but we did see the circle.
Some horses passing by carrying wood for the next village.
Some people are better at jumping shots than others.
While we were driving, two horses ran directly at us on the road! it was terrifying!
Arriving at the Rila Monastery. Built 946AD!

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is situated deep in the mountains and home to around 60 practicing monks.

We learned that the monastery has a long standing tradition of letting pilgrims seeking refuge stay at the monastery over night and learned that we could actually stay!

It is open to the public by day, but by 9pm closes its doors and is completely silent. We signed a form calling ourselves pilgrims and with a handful of other backpackers stayed the night.

The keys to our room.
Our room was basic but comfortable.
But before the doors closed, we left up the road to a tiny tiny village for dinner and found another great place to eat (its really not hard in Bulgaria)
A local classic, trout and salad with cheese.
Stefan was our waiter that night, his dad owned the restaurant and his grandpa provided all the produce! We had such a special evening with him chatting about Bulgarian history, classic North American TV shows and our adventures.
The next morning, we took some last photos of the monastery. It has so much colour, dimension and beautiful scenery
A path that is taken often leaves an impression behind.
On the road again to our next stop, Melnik.
Google search: Panorama of Melink. A village that backs on to a national park famous for its wine!
Wine country.
Wine country — Melnik is where Sir Winston Churchill ordered his wine each year!
Villa Melnik
The Villa Melnik winery uses Bulgarian wood barrels to age their wine, but is experimenting with other wood, the right one is from Canada!
They hand picked this cave to keep the wine cool, its mostly sand / clay and really cool to walk through!
for 10 lev you can do a wine tasting of 6 wines, enjoy a tour, and this lovely spread!
Oli hasn’t had the chance to sleep much, Maeghan has been sick and being a diva.
The sand peaks remind us of the Hoodoos in Alberta, but more spiky and random.
On to Plovdiv, the culture capital of Europe 2019!
See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫