Discover Bulgaria! A short imaginary trip into the land of roses

If you want to know a little secret about me: I can read some Bulgarian – faster than Russian anyway, and at the time of my first trip in this country – hitch country after high school graduation – I was even able to say a couple of sentences in that language. I returned since then three times – two times to visit Sofia – for a training and work-related work, and once for visiting Rusciuk/Ruse. I have a lot of pleasant and exciting memories and many adventures to write about – soon – but now I want to make a short introduction into the interesting potential of the Bulgarian tourism.

Rich offer for different tourists

During my research about the opportunities of the Bulgarian tourism, I was pleased to discover how much choices are available for various tourists. There are available offers for balneo and spa, seaside resorts during the summer, ski possibilities during the winter, cultural tours all over the year, as well as eco-tourism and mountain tracking. The capital city of Sofia is developing and shopping weekends are possible, at very good prices. The country is usually safe, but if you want to hitch hike you should be careful. As everywhere, the individual tourists must be careful to avoid fake policemen and thieves, but those travelling in groups have the advantage of going out with local people knowing well that if the members of the group will face any difficulties, the next time their jobs are in danger so they will do their best to get the best for the tourists.

Balneo and spa temptations

Bulgaria is well known for the production of the highest quality rose oil in the world, successfully used in various spas. The rose oil has both a healing and relaxing effect. However, the resveratrol, a substance found in wines, has equally beneficial effects for the body. This explains why near many wineries one may find successful spas, using products based on that substance.

Bulgaria is home for around 600 mineral springs, with temperatures from 20 to 101C, of a very good quality. One of the most famous spring is Kleptuza. At Hisar (the Arabic name for fortress) there are 22 springs with useful effects in the treatment of gail, gastro-intestinal maladies or kidney problems. On the list of recommended rehabilitation centers one may include Kyustendil, Kostenets and Bankya. One of the oldest mineral spring is at Burgas. If you visit the Black Sea, there are many centers offering high-end services, with personnel fluent in English and German and affordable travel packages.

Mountains trips

Do not expect challenging mountain hiking in Bulgaria: the mountains are small in size and with low level of risk, but perfect for long and relaxing walks. One may find attractive the National Reserve Srebana, included on the UNESCO list, but also the National Park Pirint. The 6,000 caves are not only natural wonders, but contains testimonies of pre-historical life, with many interesting wall paintings. Anyone interesting in caves must visit one of the following: Yagodinska, Devetashka, Magourata, Saeva Dupla, Ledenika, Dyavolsko Garlo.

The mountains can be visited both during the summer and the winter. For the ski fans, Bansko and Borovets are well-known locations. For those visiting Sofia during the winter, mountain Vitosha is the best choice, offering various transportation facilities.

During the summer, there are more opportunities for the mountain trips, especially near Rila and Pirini, in the Rodopi Mountains. Rila National Park is situated 100 km. away from Sofia and offers a diversity of birds and plants to anyone interested in the natural wonders. The most visited natural park in Bulgaria is Vitosha National Park, where you can find 200 species of birds, 13 species of bats and around 800 mushrooms species.

The most recommended eco trails are in Kopren, the South of Rodopi mountains and Chernelka.

Summer time, and the living is easy

Long time ago, in my childhood of a kid living in a communist countries, the Golden Sands was the name of the great place where anyone wanted to go at least once in the lifetime. After the fall of communism, the Bulgarian authorities invested a lot in turning those sands into real gold for the budget. Bulgaria is usually a cheap country, but the Golden Sands are always two levels up beyond the average. If you are looking for a quiet place without too much glamour, I strongly recommend Sozopol, that reminds of a small Greek settlement, but also Albena – where many Russian and Romanian tourists go regularly – hence the menus may be written in Russian and Romanian as well; the same is encountered in many Greek resorts.

The seaside is famous for the high concentration of rare bird species. Bulgaria was part of the Via Pontica, one of the main bird migration routes and centuries after, the birds continue to pass by. Around the Danube, Balchik is famous for the pleasant ambiance and the Botanical Gardens. At the North of the Black Sea there are many possibilities for camping, especially near Durankulak, at Nessebar, the village of Shkorpilovtsi/Byala and at Kavarna.

Cultural tourism

Almost each destination in Bulgaria has also a cultural and historical dimension, as it brings the Western tourist close to an old European culture, not always well known outside the Balkan area. Compared with the other countries in the region, Bulgaria was always proud to be considered a Balkan country. As in the case of many countries in the area, there it is always the temptation to declare that ‘we made this first’ and ‘we were the first to use a certain item’. If one week after you are in Belgrade, the same items were in fact discovered by the Serbians. And the story may continue. But otherwise, there it is a lot to learn about the region, only by walking in the villages or participating at the national celebrations.

Some of the recommended historical and cultural attractions are, besides Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, the ancient capital city of Bulgaria, Arbanasi village, with a special architecture and artistic flavour, Etara, the open-air ethnographic museum, the famous city of Melnik, where a praised vineyard is also located. For more specific events, one may visit the Kaliakra Rock fest, the Appolonia Festival of Arts/Sozopol or the Bansko International Jazz Festival.

Culinary tours

As the Bulgarian cuisine is complex, and the wines are tempting, there are a lot of food-related food opportunities that may attract tourists from all over the world, but especially gourmets. Many vineyards offer tours and in Pleven one can visit the Museum of wine, considered one of the biggest of this type, with around 7,000 exhibits. For those not so much into wines and alcohol, a visit at the Museum of the Yoghurt is the best alternative. All round the year, the visitors are tempted with many culinary tours and festivals: The Festival of the Cherry, in June, at Kyustenil; Festival of the Banitsa (a type of local pastry), in May where many folk concerts are also held; Festival of the Apricot, at Tutrakan, in July – tasting the  apricot-based rakiya is part of the show; the International Honey Festival at Nessebar, at the end of August, the Festival of the Plum, in the last week of September – another drinking opportunities. And the merry-go-round of the festivals continue with the Festival of the Potato at Klisura – where a dedicated Museum is waiting for visitors, a Festival of the Beans in November, close to the Rodopi Mountains, and a Festival of the Pumpkin, at Sevlievo, in November. The beautiful part of such gatherings is that you can have a straight introduction into the culture and history of the region, but also get in touch with local people and taste the local cuisine.

 

Source of pictures: http://picturesfrombulgaria.com

Sunset at Varna

Sunset at Varna

 

Switzerland? No, the view from the Pirin Mountains

Switzerland? No, the view from the Pirin Mountains

 

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