After spending a glorious time in Kardzhali, my dad and I packed our bags and headed to a small town in central Bulgaria surrounded by the Balkan mountains where my aunt and uncle live with friends who may as well be family.
After a long drive, where we stopped to try and take a photo with the fields of sunflowers but were afraid of potential snakes in the grass, we arrived in the town but had no recollection of where my aunt and uncle actually lived. Renown however in Kalofer, and perhaps across Bulgaria, we drove slowly in the dark in attempt to ask passing pedestrians or groups of grannies sitting outside their homes chit chatting as to where they lived. In such small towns and villages it always amazes me how everyone seems to know everyone.
Our first day in Kalofer entailed waking up to heading straight on a 2km trek into the Balkan mountains. Jumping into a Jeep and following the rest of the family on two quad bikes (how and why I don’t even know) we bumbled along rickety, dusty, winding roads into the Central National Park. Armed with bug repellant and a camera, we ventured up into the mountains.
A tiny monastery en route to the Central Park. A member of the group stopped briefly to pick up some fresh eggs from the hens that inhabit the floral garden.
It was like something from a dream; streams trickled along our path, ebbing and flowing over rounded pebbles and rocks. Canopies of trees billowed above us, their trunks majestic and tall, their leaves cascading up and up. Wooden bridges connected chasms, with steps ever so thin your concentration levels tripled as you stumbled slowly up and down them. Wooden staircases wobbled up crooked cliff faces – imagine something from an Indiana Jones movie, with fewer baddies and villains chasing you. Tiny streams flowed into rushing rapids, the water crashing dramatically into neighbouring rocks and calming all of a sudden into beautiful clear pools of spring water fit for drinking and bathing in on a hot Summer’s day.
Mountain climbing team.
The searing Summer heat made for a challenge on our trail through the mountains, but once shade was found higher up amongst the trees, the wind rushing through your sweat drenched t-shirt and hair, the view could be fully appreciated in all it’s glory. And after three hours or so of bumbling through the forests we had a standard Bulgarian barbecue to satiate our empty bellies and tired
Drinking from the cool springs and streams.
An unbeatable view.