Posts Tagged ‘rural tourism’

Village of Trigrad – Amazing Travel

November 2, 2009

Trigrad Gorge – amazing beauty! Words cannot describe. Pictures cannot capture. You need to feel it.

Geographical area: Trigrad is a small village in the Western Rhodope Mountains, very close to the Bulgarian-Greek border. The journey from Sofia takes about 3 hours – driving directions Sofia-Trigrad. It is a beautiful drive! You should make this journey as soon as possible because in 1-2 years there will be a new a dam – Tsankov Kamak – on the road and a big part of it will be submerged under deep water.

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Just a small fraction of the gorge

Trigrad is set in the most beautiful region of the Rhodope Mountains. Travelers who come to Trigrad enjoy the amazing scenery of the mighty gorge, beautiful nature, great caves, crystal clear mountain air, hospitable people… unforgettable experience!

Where to stay: Many local people would be glad to welcome you in their house. They are known for being very hospitable and hardworking folks. We have stayed in different houses, but we felt most at home at the Kaldarama house. The hosts names are Vessela and Yakim.

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The view from our balcony

The house is in the very beginning of the village. Once you enter the village you take the first left, over a small wooden bridge. Then you drive about 200 metres and you will see the yellow house on your left. The house offers 4 double rooms, each with a private bathroom with a WC. There is a nice yard, where guests usually prefer to sit when the weather is fine.

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Room with one queen and one twin bed

The rooms provide the basic comfort – they are clean, and warm. Each room has a small TV. Our room had a small balcony with a nice view to the village. Each room has a private bathroom with WC.

The WC: the basic comfort – private WC, sink and shower

The food: that’s the best part:) You choose what you want to eat and the host will cook it for you. The food is simple, but everything is home made from scratch. The milk comes directly from their cow and is buttery and delicious. They make their own yogurt. You should try it! The jams are all fruit and they are wonderful. For breakfast I recommend you try mekitsi with their home-made jams or pine honey or their special banitsa. For dinner try the patatnik or pan-fried trout. You should also try their famous herbal tea, they call it mursalski tea, which grows only in the Rhodope region. It has a refreshing and regenerative effect and they  playfully call it the local Viagra:) They do not serve spirits, but you can bring your own.

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One third of my breakfast - mekitsa and real cow's milk

The service: the hosts, Vessela and Yakim were great and made us feel at home!

Price: 20 leva per person per night; you pay separately for the food.

Pros: delicious food, great hosts, clean and warm rooms, nice view from balcony, pleasant yard

Cons: our room and bathroom were quite tiny, the ventilation in the bathroom is not  very good and once you take a shower it takes a long time for the bathroom to dry out

Contact: the phone numbers for the house: (+359) 03040 225 and mobile (+359) 0886  104 201. If you have additional questions use the contact form or simply write me an e-mail to: truebulgaria@gmail.com .

Things to do / see

Caves: There numerous known and unknown caves in the region – paradise for cave lovers and climbers. If you decide to visit the caves, please, do not make pictures, step carefully and do not touch anything! The light not only disturbs the bats, but also increases the natural temperature and spoils the cave formations, which take veeeery loooong to form. If we want our kids to be able to see this beauty we really need to be careful. That is a major problem of the local people, who want to promote and preserve at the same time – an extremely hard task.

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View from Haramiiska cave

Yagodinska Cave is the longest cave in the Rhodope Mountains. The cave is very pretty with its numerous cave  formations. No wander a lot of young couples have chosen to get married in the very cave – in something like a ritual hall.  Here are some quick facts about the cave:

– 10500 metres long (1100 are available for the visitors)

– 275 000 years old

–  6ºС annual temperature

– open all year-long – first entry 9 am.; last entry 4:15 pm

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You can boat in the very gorge

Dyavolsko Garlo (Devil’s Throat) cave is an amazing cave right in the Trigrad Gorge.  The natural entrance of the cave resembles the shape of a devil’s head – hence the name. The main part of the cave represents a huge hall where you will see the highest underwater waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula. By the waterfall there are 301 steps, which will take you back on Earth:) According to the ancient Thracian legends  it is from here that Orpheus descends into the underground kingdom of Hades to save his beloved wife Eurydice. Here are some quick facts about the cave:

Dyavolsko Garlo (Devil's Throat) Cave

– 110 metres long

– 40 metres wide

– 35 metres high

– 8ºС annual temperature

– open during the Summer season 8am-6pm; during the Winter season you need to call in advance

Listen to a pipe player at the entrance of Dyavolsko Garlo cave.

Haramiiska cave does not have open public access. You need to have a guide if you want to visit it. It is a little bit on the extreme side and I strongly recommend the experience. During the Summer season it won’t be hard to find a guide. The guides usually gather in front of Dyavolsko Garlo cave each morning around 9am.

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Climbing to Haramiiska cave

Horse riding: at the south end of the village there is a horse riding center. They will offer you different routes depending on your preferences. The Rhodope Mountains are the perfect place for horse riding!

There are also walking trails, climbing, offroad motor-biking etc.

You can walk to the old Bulgarian-Greek border through the deserted village of Vodni Pad (Водни Пад). The trail starts from the horse riding centre. It takes about 2 hours in both directions. The only permanent resident of the village of Vodni Pad is a 90 year-old lady. You can visit her and she will make hot tea for you. This is how the journey looks in the first snow in October:

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The walk to Vodni Pad during the first snow - Ocotber 31, 2009

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A sign pointing the direction to Vodni Pad village

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the first snow - October 31, 2009

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Zassele Village – Nature Paradise Close to Sofia

August 25, 2009

If you want to get away from Sofia for a day or two Zassele village is probably the  perfect destination – so close to Sofia and yet so far away.

Geographical  area: Northwestern part of Bulgaria, in the recesses of the Western Balkan Range. In this area the Iskar river shapes its gorge through the lofty rocks and the views are more than impressive.

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view from Bojilovo complex

Location: Zassele village is close to Svoge town. Here is a map with directions Sofia-Zassele.

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Bojilovo complex

Where to stay

Bojilovo complex: the house stands on a high slope in the end of Zassele village and provides a wonderful bird’s-eye view to the village and surroundings. There are no other houses close to it, no noise or traffic. The house is new, cozy and clean. It has a large trim garden. There is a small tavern with a fireplace. You can also have your meals or coffee outside and enjoy the sun and the view.

The rooms: Bojilovo complex offers 4 rooms. Two double rooms, one triple room and one double suite. Each of them has a separate bathroom. The rooms are very clean and comfortable, designed in a traditional folk style. Excellent mattress, pillows and linen – the owners did a great job.

The tavern is small and cozy with a fireplace. When the weather is nice everyone eats outside in the garden.

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dining outside in the garden

The food was simple but very delicious. They don’t offer a big menu – u basically have a few options to choose from, but they are all great – I personally think this is the right way. We had typical Bulgarian oven cooked meals and delicious BBQ. They have pretty good wine selection. For breakfast we had a very delicious banitsa (Bulgarian pastry dish with eggs and feta cheese.)

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lunch in the yard of Bojilovo complex

Pros: All the above – great location, close to Sofia, everything is nice and clean and put together with style and taste. The food is excellent – small but great choice.

Cons: in the morning we woke up because of noise in the lobby of the house.  Sometimes we had to wait longer for our meals or drinks, but I can live with that, considering the fact that everything is natural and home-made.

Price: Double room 35 euro, Triple room 40 euro, Double Suite 50 euro, breakfast included.

Contacts: If you have further questions about Bojilovo complex use the contact form or simply write an e-mail to: truebulgaria@gmail.com

Things to do / see

A scenic Еco trail along Iskar river gorge – they call it Vazov’s Eco Trail in honour of the renowned Bulgarian poet and writer Ivan Vazov, who loved to walk along these places and was inspired by the lofty creations of nature.

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view from the eco trail

Skaklia waterfall – a 130-metre high semi-active waterfall, one of the highest waterfalls on the Balkan Peninsula.

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Skaklia waterfall along the eco trail

Caves: the region is a favourite place for cave lovers. The most popular one is Temnata Dupka (The Dark Hollow). Here are some other caves in the region: Elata (a very interesting vertical cave) Dushnika, Kacite, Majanica etc.

Bula: You can see the Bula from Bojilovo complex. It is the top of the highest slope in the area. We walked there – not more than 1-hour walk through the beech forest. We sat on the very top of Bula, our feet dangling in the air – the feeling is unforgettable.

Djuglata – a rock phenomena by Tserovo village


The Village of Oryahovets

August 18, 2009

We wanted to find a quiet place with good food in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains. And we did!

The place is called Meressev’s house. The website is not available in English yet but i promised to do that some time soon.

the house from outside
the Meresev house from outside

Geographical area: Central Rhodope Mountains, Banite Municipality, Oryahovets village. It is about 3h away from Sofia, 245 km. See map and directions.

About the  house: The house is new. It opened in 2009. It was built with the co-financing of the EU so you will see the EU sign on the house. There are 7 double rooms each with its own bathroom and  access to a terrace. Two of the rooms are like small apartments and  have something like a kitchen corner. They are all nice and clean. My pictures of the room did not turn out ok because I did not use my flash, but I will post them anyways just to give you an idea. There is a small tavern with fireplace on the lower level, but we had our meals in the garden. There is free WiFi that works in the garden, as well. This was a nice surprise for us. Also there was jazz music playing in the garden – that was unusual but really cool.

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our room – I am sorry i did not take the picture before we make our usual mess

The garden is small but very pleasant with a great view to the mountains. You can ask to have your meals in the garden if the weather allows it. This is what we did and enjoyed the fresh air and the beautiful view.

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the small garden in Meresev house

The food is great! Leave the owners to cook their local dishes for you and you won’t regret it! They use natural products: eggs from the hens next door, veal from the neighbour’s calf, milk from the neighbour’s cow, potatoes and tomatoes from their own garden. Everything was soo fresh and delicious! Of course, you can tell them what you want and they will cook it for you, but i strongly recommend you to leave them to decide for you.

The service is very good. The owners are friendly and cheerful family. They will do their best to make you feel at home.

The price: BGN 25 (= EUR 13 ) per person per night, breakfast included.

Pros: Everything I described above.

Cons: Even though the village is very secluded and there is hardly any traffic, the house is by the road so you may hear noise in the morning. Our terrace was shared with the room next to ours.

Contacts: If you have questions or would like to get in contact with Meressev Guesthouse, use the contact form or simply write an e-mail to: truebulgaria@gmail.com

Places to see

Zagrazhden Eco trail: Beautiful eco trail starting from Zagrazhden village, 30 min from Oryahovets village. We walked all over the route – about 5 hrs.

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a map of the eco trail

One part of the eco trail follows the Zagrazhdenska river  and there are many beautiful waterfalls, wooden bridges, and rocky routes.

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one of the many waterfalls along Zagrazhden eco trail

At some point the trail climbs quite high and there is a beautiful view of the mountains and the forest around. The trail is not extremely hard – there was an 80 years old man who was walking the trail when we were there. There are a few alcoves where you can rest or have a sandwich. Take water with you.

start point of Zagrazhden ecopath
starting point of the Zagrazden eco trail

Rozhen Observatory: it is situated at Rozhen peak (altitude: 1750 m). There is a curvy road all the way to the observatory.

Rozhen Observatory
Rozhen Observatory

We went there just to see the area, but we somehow got in the middle of a group so we went to see the large telescope and listened to a short lecture. There is incredible view from the terrace on the last floor (where the telescope is).

view from the observatory
view from the observatory

The large telescope is not for public use, but there is a smaller one which can be used with a prior reservation and if the weather allows it. I am decided to do that one day.

Svoboda peakEnihan Baba: To get there you need to head north-west from Davidkovo village (very close to Oryahovets village). We drove to Svoboda chapel. There is no parking lot or anything, which signals the end of the road. We just left our car where we saw other cars parked.

Svoboda chapel is an old, old chapel in a very poor condition. I went in just to take a look. I was surprised to find an old man who made Turkish coffee and sold water and sweets. What is interesting about the area is that muslim population from Bulgaria gather there over the weekends or on their holidays. They roast meat and make soup. If you are hungry they will feed you:)

From the chapel there are about 600 stairs, leading to the peak. The stairs are not steep and you can get to the top in about 30 minutes. There are many alcoves along the stairs if you want to sit and rest and enjoy the great view.

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me on the 600th stair

At the peak there is a small black marble stone in honour of Momchil voivida, who was defending the Rhodope area from the otomans in the 14c. There is also a small temple in honour of Enihan Baba – a muslim legendary hero (although different sources give different info). It is believed that his grave is in this area. Anyways, the view from the top is quite impressive and the air is crystal clear.

Other places to see:

Haydushki Polyani area

Perperikon – the ancient Tracian city (more info in my post Trifon Zarezan Hotel – East Rhodope Mountain)

Zlatograd – the old town

Tatul – the Thracian sanctuary

Dyavolskia most (The Devil’s Bridge)

Chudnite Mostove (The Wonderous Bridges)

Shiroka Laka Village