Places touched by something greater than us
Readers of the Wonder Backpack, if you want to know a country’s finest jewels, then pray for a local weirdo to materialize and open up his experiences like flower petals, to show you the dew drops rather than the dry, cold lists. The “dew” means the freshest, most regenerating places for the spirit, soul and body. Let’s imagine you did pray, you rubbed the lamp or said the right words… The gene from the lamp sent me to your door.
For a long time now, I have become immuned to standard travel plans, commonly organized vacations and the average hustle and bustle of sightseeing. I was never born to be a tourist. My heart seeks to explore, to renew itself, to breathe in the fine pulses of individuality. If this sounds too poetic to you, accept my apologies in advance. This whole article will feel poetic, mysterious and delicious!
I am blessed to have been born in a country turned down by the common 21 century “values”, a country perceived to have a bad rap in the modern world of fast-moving goods and resources. Well, for a Poetess and Creative writer, to be born into one of the most ancient languages and regions of planet Earth is quite a good strategy to begin with. So my point of view may be kind of different.
My motive in writing was always to explore the vast, mysterious, hidden and unique things; so naturally, I had to be born in a country that provokes experiences like that. Bulgaria is a country of paradox. It either breaks you and shatters you or entices you to seek as deeply as possible into your own roots and true inner essence.
Now, I have been asked to recommend five places from Bulgaria’s geographic tapestry. Here are my completely subjective, inspiring, personal choices of adoration and mystery.
1. Sozopolis, Black Sea Region
Keywords: Incredible and Ancient
The other name it carries is Apollonia. Apollo is the Sun God, the Healer. A Soul Harbor, if you ask me.
Expect walks on cobbled streets in the old town, beautiful midnight dinners beneath the full moon. Romantic in a mature way, so naturally it is the first place, where I truly rose rather than fell in love in this lifetime.
I do not personally recommend the crowded beach of Sozopol during the day, Smokinya feels way better, even when it is crowded there. Plenty of beach cafes to enjoy and chill music to listen to, while your feet get all ancient and sandy.
Sozopolis is an unusual place in so many ways. It feels like it reconstructs you from the inside. It is no coincidence it has been associated as a city that saves oneself. It can. Avoid being touristy! Avoid the bars and look for the silence of this place and its secrets. Did I mentioned it’s great for writers and artists?
There are balconies that overlook to the very sea, so you do merge with it, with the entire vastness and glory of this place.
2. Veliko Turnovo and Tryavna
Keywords: Glorious and Wise.
Middle ages, glorious historic times, time of the Word and the grand historic rise of Bulgaria under King Simeon’s rulership. You can still feel this when you walk on Tsarevets Fortress. It is there. Surrounded by the wonderful mountain, this is the city of the Tsars. And queens, if I may add! Intelligent ones at that. Search for the art, search for the Bogomils trails and remember the timeless lesson of power and wisdom. Life was never about being almighty and strong. It was always learning and travelling. Tryavna… well Tryavna is all about coffee made on sand (super delicious) and tranquility, cozy houses and clean air.
Another high balcony-apartement with an open view above Yantra River where you will feel uplifted and renewed. Book at least two nights, and then dine in “Shtastliveca” Restaurant. I will consider the last a personal favor.
3. Vacha Dam, Rhodopa Mountain
Keywords: Mysterious, Openness
Way better than any retreat I believe. Here I take you to the mountain of mysteries indeed. Orpheus walked these lands and the ancient mysteries have made a stamp. The Vucha dam is not your regular pool of water. The entire Rhodopa is generous and full of love.
You have to discover your places intuitively and wisely. Timeless views here. You can make a boat trip and it’s so cheap.
I have stayed Chilingira Complex, enjoyed its lovely views for hours and still didn’t get enough. Two pools, again – I am a fan of high balconies with horizons for sunrise and sunsets. My religion forbids being inside dark places!
4. Krushuna Watefalls, Northern Bulgaria
Keywords: Seekers, Infinity
This place was unknown and it might have been for the best. It is not a touristic place. Here, where the prayers and contemplation of the isihasts or those who used to seek the endless truths. They used to stare in the unusually blue waters (pictures do not do justice to this place) and look for the answers of the eternal questions.
Krushuna is located into yet another mountain in Bulgaria – Stara Planina or the Old Mountain. Yes, you will find trails of the old spiritual quests here as well. The mountain feels quite different than Rhodopa, it gives strength to spirit and you can sense the price of freedom. If I have to give this mountain a color, it would be purple. Visit also the Devetashka cave and see what the forces of nature did. I have not stayed over there, so I can’t recommend places to sleep or eat but I am sure travel sites and asking locals will do the trick.
5. Plovdiv, Central South Bulgaria
Keywords: Fire, Hills & Rebirth
I am finishing off this piece with my home town. Another controversy and a Cultural spot for the upcoming 2019. Home of poets, artists, writers, a crossroad of battles and quests. Seems everyone wished to invade or rule this city and for certain periods in history all nationalities and religions co-exist peacefully.
Yesterday I changed money in the mosque, I live next to a Catholic church… But me, I am churchless in the world. If you ask me the real temples are the inner ones. For outer ones, walk on every hill of Plovdiv! There are currently seven of them. Meet the sunrise or the sunset, this city is thousands of years old and you can make one or two days visits to numerous small villages in the Rhodopa mountan like Markovo, Yavorovo, Asenovgrad.
(Todor has the hospitable, friendly gene in his DNA)
Alright, dear readers of the Wonder Backpack! It was a real joy to share my top 5 favorites of Bulgaria. I hope you truly enjoy visiting them and hey – keep me posted on your stories! Some of the best friends I have met I found in stations or while discovering new places.