Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rila monastery

For months upon months, I've wanted to travel to the famous Bulgarian Rila monastery. This monastery was built around 860 AD, and attracts more tourists than any other destination in bulgaria. Dubbed the "bethlehem of bulgaria," this monastery is well-known for its beauty, set off by the terrific landscape of the Rila Mountains in Southwest Bulgaria. Finally, finally this sunday, I was able to drag my friend Christin to the Monastery for good times, full buses, and loads of pictures.

getting to the monastery is a bit of a "challenge." There are three public-transportation buses every day from a small village bearing the same name as the Monastery. In order to get to the Village of Rila, almost everyone has to start in Sofia, and may or may not take detours, side-trips, and encounter long "layovers." many tour services offer direct buses from sofia to the monastery, but they range from $25 to 65 euro! So based on a hot tip from another volunteer, I practically begged Christin to take the public transportation route, promising her more adventure, as sense of can-do, and a few more leva in our pockets! We left Pernik at 8:20 in order to get on the 10am bus to Rila town. Once we arrived there, we had to wait 40 minutes or so for the 2nd daily bus to the monastery. Once you make it to the monastery, you have about 2.5 hours until a direct bus will take you all the way back to sofia! Well, we got so caught up in the beauty of the place, that when we went to board the bus at 2:45 (for a 3pm departure) the bus was SO FULL that there was standing room only, with people squished from the back to the front door. We decided to leave the crowds behind- 3 hours on a packed bus to sofia did NOT sound like our idea of a relaxing ride! we were lucky enough to catch a bus 2 hours later which took us to the town of dunpitsa, and from there we were able to go to a town near Pernik, and after 6 buses and 12 hours, we made it back to my apartment!

here are a few pictures. look for the link to my webshots in a few days!


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