Rila Monastery

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
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Trip End Sep 04, 2008


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day trip to Rila Monastery!

Rila Monastery has got to be the most famous spot in Bulgaria.  Built a ridiculously long time ago, it has been destroyed and restored many times, just like everything else in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe.  Public transportation seemed difficult, so we just decided to get a private driver.  A station wagon picked up Natasha, me, and two other travelers from Australia and California at 9:30am to depart on a 2-hour ride to the monastery, located southwest of Sofia.  I passed out watching dry plains and very sparse houses then woke up to deep valleys and mountains.  The one-lane paved road pierced through the mountain and eventually led us to the monastery!  Because today was Sunday (or because this is such a big destination), half of Bulgaria's population was visiting the monastery.  The frescoes were from 19th C and were indeed impressive.  I was admiring the artworks and the tall, compact Orthodox church when a tiny, ancient lady in black came and yelled at me about my shorts.  I was forced to put a green robe around my waist- I thought I had left Istanbul 3 days ago!  Oh well, I became so comfortable in the robe that I accidentally walked out in it.  We hiked around for a bit and I munched on the most delicious Happy Donuts. 

Once we were back, we visited the synogogue (closed) and the mosque (also closed).  The triangular location of the synogogue, the mosque, and the church is interesting and possibly profound.  The hostel serves free dinner, consisting of pretty good spaghetti and a tall glass of cheap, deluted beer.  Of course Natasha gets drunk off of the beer and acts like she did in Safranbolu.  Despite the horde of beautiful guys inviting us (me) to come out with them, she passes flat out.  Oh well, I guess I mustn't forget that we are on a UNESCO World Heritage Site tour, not a get-drunk-in-foreign-land tour (oh wait, isn't Natasha doing the latter as well?)  Did I mention that we almost left to Belgrade, Serbia on a whim tonight?  All the choices we have are overwhelmingly exciting.  Belgrade, however, is way too out of the way and is supposedly a huge party place (which we don't do, nope), so we head to Veliko Tarnovo tomorrow as planned.
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