Geographical area: Sredni Kolibi village in the Central Balkan Range – the region of Elena town. Here are the directions and a map from Sofia to Sredni Kolibi village. The drive from Sofia takes about 3:30 hrs. There are signs to the hotel so it is not hard to find.
The village of Sredni Kolibi is tiny, very quiet and awfully charming. It is very sad how few people live there now. One thing you should know about this part of the mountain is that it is incredibly beautiful! We call it “Elenski balkan” and we are loving it:)
Where to stay
Elenski Riton Hotel: There is a main building and there are 2 smaller separate buildings. We stayed at one of the smaller buildings. Everything is nice, clean and new since the hotel welcomed its first guests only in 2008. The architecture deserves compliments – it has a character, authenticity and it fits perfectly with the surroundings. There are bikes for rent – the region is perfect for biking tours. I almost forgot to mention the outdoor pool – pardon me, I’m not a pool lover.
The rooms are also very clean; almost everything is made of wood and that gives them a pleasant hm… woody smell. However, they are a bit small and dark for my taste.
The bathroom is large and clean. It was quite cool in there when we visited since they did not have the heating on. We had a boiler in our bathroom and it was quite noisy during the night. We had to turn it off in the end but we were wandering for quite a while where did that strange squeaking noise come from.
The restaurant is not to my taste – dark, smoky and noisy. We had lunch and breakfast outside and if it were not cold, we would’ve had our dinner outside as well.
The food: The menu is not impressive as a whole but they had some home-cooked meals which were excellent.
The service: As I have mentioned many times before, Bulgaria is not famous for its good service. Well, here is one exception to the rule – the staff at this hotel was friendly and helpful. The lady manager is very kind, she knows quite a lot about the area and she will gladly provide you with any info you need.
Pros: great location, very quiet – no roads or noise of any kind; new, clean and tidy hotel, good service.
Cons: the rooms are a bit small and dark for my taste; the restaurant is not a cozy place; the menu is composed mainly of fast-cooked stuff – there are only a few real cooked meals.
Things to do / see:
Yovkovtsi Dam is the first thing that you should go and see – approximately 10 minutes walk from the hotel. If you enjoy fishing you can spend the rest of your vacation there:)
Biking tour – a great idea! We rented bikes from the hotel and we had a really cool (and quite tiring:) biking tour. We got to a deserted village ab. 8 km from the hotel. (Head in the direction of the dam and just follow the main road. You will pass one village before that – try to go upwards all the time (that will be on your left). At some point we left our bikes by a tree and continued by foot. It was much easier going down with the bikes:)
Kapinovski Monastery – most monasteries have unique air to them, which is impossible to describe. Once you enter their yard, you enter a different world – slow, green, quiet, humble and beautiful. Just stay there a moment – feels good. This monastery is actually a working male monastery.
The town of Elena – a unique mountain town with a lot of museums, galleries & churches. The whole town is a historical site. Just go up and down the steep streets made of stones and you will feel the atmosphere.
Hristovski waterfall on Miikovska river.
Animal life: It was really cool to see so many animals in their natural environment – storks, foxes, rabbits, deers. It does not sound so exciting written down here, but if you see them there, while you are walking – it really is cool:)