In a time when I still had to hunt for the cheapest possible tickets, I ended up in Sofia, Bulgaria on the way to Zimbabwe. Actually, from Amsterdam I had a stopover in Vienna before arriving in Sofia. Then, another plane would take me to Harare via Malta and Lagos, Nigeria. Instead of a non-stop flight, this looked like adventure to me! And it was even possible to stay a few days in Sofia. Obviously, this is exactly what I did. But the airline paid only one night in a luxury hotel, and I decided to stay in another place for the other nights. So I went to the tourist office, and at least at that time the country was not touristy at all. In fact, it was just half a year before the Berlin Wall came down and Bulgaria was known as one of the better allies of the Soviet Empire.
Communicating was not even difficult and soon the only other option appeared to be staying in a private home. This is what I did. After staying nearly 8 weeks in the late summer and autumn of Zimbabwe, I stayed again a few days in Sofia. Upon arrival, tired of the long flight with the same stops, I longed for a bed. The customes officer made me sign a document but when I tried to go through, he stopped me. To make a long story short, I had just signed a document in which I declared that I had nothing to declare while I still had some Bulgarian money on me, worth around US$ 15. After some calculations I had to pay around US$ 250 (cash) for punishment of this crime. The only alternative was going to a Bulgarian jail, the officer told me consolingly.
These last days I went to the famed Rila Monastery in the mountains with the daughter of the house where I was staying. It wss, at least at that time, surrealistic for me to be walking around an old Bulgarian monastery in the snow and the cold, a day after having left from the nice temperatures in the south of Africa. At that time, I could not imagine that less than a year from that moment, it would become my lifestyle.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Rila Monastery (Bulgaria). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Rila Monastery.
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