parallax background

BEYOND SUNNY BEACH – THE REAL BULGARIA

THE AUTUMN BEAUTY OF BALATONFÜRED
November 2017
DO YOU LIKE STREETFOOD? HERE IS OUR TOP 5 IN BUDAPEST
November 2017

 

 

Most of the people think of Sunny Beach immediately when it comes to Bulgaria – beautiful seaside, cheap food & accommodation and crazy parties. I wish they’d know there is so much more to explore than this. Actually my local friends – when I asked them years ago to take me there for a party – were downright refused to do so. It’s for tourists who only want to have fun, drinking cocktails next to the pool and enjoy crowd and loud pounding music 24/7.

But if you want to explore something authentic & learn something about the culture, interested in historical monuments and buildings, or enjoy wandering in nature, here it comes some suggestions where to find those quite magical places.

 

#Nessebar

You don’t even have to leave Sunny Beach far behind to visit the Old Nessebar, this picturesque ancient city, situated on a rocky peninsula on the coast of the Black Sea. With its rich historical background and tangible reminiscence of different centuries and cultures, it is not a surprise to be on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. With all the lovely restaurants, antiquities and souvenir shops right along the narrow winding streets, it’s the perfect place to get wonderfully lost for a while.

 

#The Rila Mountains

My first ever experience of mountaineering was at this beautiful place and since that my love for the mountains is undiminished.

With a guide first, we climbed the Musala, the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula (9,596 ft), which took around 6 hours of walking through clouds and stones. As we were getting closer to the top, the more deserted the scenery becomes. There was no sign of life just the mere land of stones at the end. For me, it was a little bit Mordorish, but my Dad, who is a real rock-garden enthusiast was enjoying this route much. I didn’t mind this bug until the point when halfway on the road I’ve come to realize our backpack was filled with more boulder than food and water.

 

Our next destination was the Seven Rila Lakes, with this one, I fell in love immediately. I’ve never felt such peace in my life when I was hiking there, under the sun, surrounded by greenery downhills and cliffs, breathing the fresh air. Getting higher and higher step by step banished all the worries which I was going through back then in my life. All the lakes on the way were pure beauty in themselves, and from the top, I could amaze six of them at the same time. Standing alone on the highest peak, looking around and seeing nothing else but the surrounding hilltops makes you truly feel alive.

 

 

#Rhodope Mountains

I spent three days in this amazing territory, but I wish I could have stayed more. It’s not enough time to explore all the beauty and take all the adventures which this place offers.  First, we visited the Rozhen Observatory – even though I usually do not have fear of heights, walking on the narrow panoramic terrace raised the level of adrenaline in my body, mainly because I could see the height through the grid under my feet.

My favorite part of the day was when we were hiking through a nature conservation area in Smoljan. The few km long path was diverse in sights and at the end, you could choose the option to zip-line down, above the valley and the crown of the pinewood.

 

The next day we took a jeep trip up to a mountain – by the end I was covered by dust from tip to toe, but it was fun, so totally worth it – where there was a bridge ending in the air. It was crazy to observe how small the main road is under our feet, it was literally just a line, breaking the continuance of the otherwise unspoiled nature.

 

From the top, our next journey led into two caves deep inside the mountain – one of them was a beautiful dripstone cave with a Christmas tree and an altar inside (let me explain: the first one is for the stuff celebrating New Year together – they said the tree lives 5 years under those circumstances -, the other is for nuptial ceremonies, since many couples want to get married under those wonderful natural formations). The other one we explored was the Devil’s throat cave – countless myths and superstitions have been told about this mysterious cave, from what I heard my favorite was the legend of Orpheus.

There’s a tiny little fountain which is according to the story at the exact same place where Orpheus started to cry after losing his love again. If you wash your face with that water coming out, while thinking of the one thing your heart desires the most, it will surely come true.

After making that one special wish, I could see the Shadow of the Devil – one of the rock’s shade looks like that when it’s lightened.

To get to the surface, we had to climb long and sheer steps of stairs in almost complete darkness. After escaping from the Devil’s throat, a peaceful valley and waterfalls were awaiting of us.

 

 

On our way back home we stopped for an hour at Shiroka Laka, which is a little village lurking in the mountains. This place is famous for its authentic architectural style of the Rhodopes – some of the houses are around 500 years old.

 

 

On the last day, we were hiking at the Canyon of Waterfalls – we had 4 hours to explore this 6 km long part of the Rhodopes. Our path was along a clean and cold torrent, from time to time crossed by wooden bridges. Even though we couldn’t see much of the sights when we arrived on the top, the footpath and the fairytale-like surroundings made it up for us.

 

I truly hope to have a chance to come back to Rhodopes again and explore the rest of the miraculous places this mountain keeps as a secret.

 

 

#Shipka Peak

After climbing a few hundreds of tumbledown steps through the woods, I arrived at this iconic monument which commemorates the ones who died for the liberation of Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish war (1877-78). The massive tower with the huge bronze lion above the gate is impressive on its own, but the little museum inside, with paintings and remembrances of the battle and the long desired enfranchisement just makes it even more interesting. From the top, you have a panoramic view of the Shipka Peak, where there are only hilltops around, and some wind turbines on the distant horizon. I’ve been here once before, and since that I’ve always wanted to come back again. I just love the atmosphere of this whole region, it actually reminds me one of the ‘wandering sunlit fields’ scenes from the Lord of the Rings.

With my boyfriend we had this urge to climb up the highest, farthest reaching cliffs whenever we are up in the mountains.

Lying in each other’s arms with my loved one on the top of a towering stone, taking few moments being completely silent, sunbathing while the whole valley unfolding under our feet – well, that’s one of my favorite moments of our holiday.

 

 

#Buzludzha

Buzludzha is one of the most surrealistic places I’ve ever been to. This abandoned monument on the hilltop was originally built and used by the Bulgarian communist party but for only 8 years.

Since the collapse of the communist regime the building is empty and had been fated – there is no money to rebuild nor to demolish it.

When I saw it my first impression was that it’s like a UFO has landed on the mountaintop and decided to stay there. I can understand why this uncommon vision is drawing other visitors as well, even though I was a little bit surprised when realized there is a whole German tour bus beside us. With my boyfriend we would have liked to sneak in and take a peek inside, but the main entrance was closed and we had no time to search for alternative entering option since the sunset was coming fast. Anyway, we took a walk around the building which is now covered with graffiti and Cyrillic signs. The wind was unbearably strong, and all the way I had to be very careful not to step into a horseshit – it was everywhere around. It had good points though – the horses were nearby. When we were driving back home we saw the whole herd. We pulled over and then I was going closer to the peacefully grazing animals. One foal slowly started to approach me, so I was standing still with my arm extended – I was hoping to pet that beautiful wild creature. He didn’t really like me touching him, so he trotted away in just a few seconds – but those short moments were enough for me to keep this experience and this whole particular place in my good memories.

 

Please follow and like us:
20

28 Comments

  1. Lorelle says:

    I love old legends like this of Orpheus. It gives such character and insight to these attractions and local features.You have captured Bulgaria beautifully. 🙂

    II

    • Travelised says:

      I love them too, it’s like you have a piece of a tale on earth which came to fruition. Thank you, Lorelle 🙂

  2. Dom says:

    I have not been to Bulgaria before and really have no idea what to expect. The fact that you can get both the sun/sea and the mountains is awesome! Nice pictures.

    • travelised says:

      Bulgaria is a little bit out of sight, especially for the Western world, that’s why we wanted to introduce the wide range of opportunities over there – it’s definitely worth a visit. 🙂 Thanks Dom!

  3. Unta says:

    Amazing find! Love this post, never imagined Bulgaria looks so stunning. Great photos too. 🙂

  4. Oana says:

    I have to admit I went to the Sunny Beach when I was younger and I didn’t had a chance to visit anything else around. Your post made me realise how wrong I was, Bulgaria definitely has a lot more to offer and hopefully I can return and visit all the places from your list, especially Nessebar.

    • travelised says:

      You know it’s weird for me, that they don’t really communicate all these spectacular places to the outside world – but many Bulgarian actually go and visit these above-mentioned places.

      Nessebar is fascinating indeed, just try to avoid the peak season or get up early to see around without the usual crowd 🙂

  5. Followingtherivera says:

    This is an excellent blog post, and I love your photos of Bulgaria. I’ve never actually been , but I’d like to see Nessebar, and these gorgeous mountains. I’ll pin this for when I eventually get there.

  6. Mei says:

    I would love to explore Bulgaria one day. I think it’s still one of those “not so well known” countries that should be visited. Seeing 500 years old houses in Shiroka Laka would definitely be awesome! And you’re right: Buzludzha really looks surreal.

    • travelised says:

      Yeah, I think the same Mei – Bulgaria is only famous for Sunny Beach, though there are so much more to explore 🙂

  7. Somnath says:

    Nesse bar is wonderful and so are the peaks and the mountains of Bulgaria.Although I have’nt been there till now but I have seen not many posts about the place and location so I will keep this in my wishlist for the future

  8. Aleksandra says:

    you have amazing photography skills~

  9. David says:

    This looks amazing! Your pictures are fantastic. I’ll have to check out Bulgaria 🙂

    • travelised says:

      Thanks, David 🙂 Yeah it’s a nice idea to visit: amazing sights and it’s so affordable!

  10. Amrita Sen says:

    This is a lovely post. I always try to find the offbeat places and experiences when I travel. Although I visit the touristy stuffs also, I prefer the offbeat ones. The pictures are also very beautiful!

    • travelised says:

      It’s the same with me – I’m interested in the touristic sights, but I’m always eager to find more authentic places. Thanks, Amrita 🙂

  11. Ada says:

    wow I am glad I just read this post ! I’ve never been in Bulgaria before mostly because of this opinion you mention at the beginning, of being cheap party destination for young europeans. But after seeing those beautiful photos I really wanna plan a trip there ! The views are incredible

    • travelised says:

      I’m happy you changed your mind after our review 😊 it’s worth to see, you won’t be disappointed!

  12. Ami Bhat says:

    I can definitely ditch the beaches for these treasures. Nessebar definitely seems intriguing and I bet there are a lot of stories within. I also, liked the description of the caves, especially the one with the legend of Orpheus – Devil’s throat cave. It must have been quite an experience. You are right about Buzludza looking like a UFO. Definitely worth exploring just incase it is 😉 . Loved reading your post.

    • travelised says:

      Thank you Ami 🙂 oh yeah, Nessebar has many stories to tell, the best if you explore them yourself! 😉 The cave was interesting indeed, with all the mystical rumours they told us about, and Buzludzha is just unbelievable – you have to see it with your own eyes!

  13. Roland says:

    I always wanted to visit Bulgaria. After reading this article I will definetly go. I never liked beaches anyways. Well written it was worth to read it you have put a lot of love and work in it and it shows. Cheers!

    • travelised says:

      Happy to hear that, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret visiting. 🙂 Well, actually there are pretty nice beaches, you just have to leave behind the coast of Sunny Beach. But my heart goes to the mountains as well, I would choose hiking over laying on the sand a thousand times.
      Thanks for your kind words, hope you’ll like the following ones too!

  14. Living in Florida I see beaches everyday, love them but when I travel I would rather see something like this! Again, amazing photography, you make me want to visit Bulgaria!

  15. travelised says:

    You don’t know how happy I am reading your comment 🙂 That was my purpose to show people that there is beauty in such places you wouldn’t think of. And that you say you’d like to visit Bulgaria from Florida, well it’s a big compliment 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *