Spring in Bulgaria 2013
Trip Recap May 25th – June 1st, 2013
 


May 30th This morning we departed for the village of Starosel to visit a Thracian Temple complex dating from the 5 – 6th century BC…we discovered it was under renovation so could not go deep inside so I only have a few photographs to share. We walked around the mound, it is quite large and found some wonderful wildflowers growing as well as a huge pit that was used to store or make and store wine. As you can see, we are quite high up so this temple complex had quite a commanding view.
From there we went to the Starossel Wine Center to enjoy lunch and a wine tasting…this is a gorgeous place so on the tour I will make time here to also enjoy some warm spring waters for the group. It will be a memorable experience. The little dolls, called Pijo and Panda you see on the fruit trees are put there for a special reason. People buy all sorts of these little charms and put them on a tree when they first see fruit to wish the tree a good harvest. You see lots of trees with them on…great harvests to be expected! I also saw lots of roses planted in the rows of grapevines…this is a great way to see if any pests or diseases occur as the roses will show first. While we were eating out lunch we had a guest arrive, a young male peacock…very noisy guest indeed. This place is really neat as you will see all kinds of small animals around, ducks, silkies, peacocks, turtles..the baby rabbits are so cute. All pets. Even a resident turkey at about 8 years old. We will sit outside if the weather is fine and enjoy such a peaceful view while eating a wonderful lunch. I will also arrange to have the group try an ancient grain made into buns…you will love them! The Manager of this place is working with an agronomist on this wheat. I as lucky enough to be able to get some of the flour to bring home so Tom can make them. Along with a bottle of wine! The rock is Thracian again, you recognize those now…and about 2500 years old.

After lunch we took a tour – of the wine cellar. It is located about 6 meters underground and is a sanctuary for wine. Here we tasted three very nice wines – a white, rose and red. If you stand in the center you can hear yourself speak. They also produce the Italian version of Grappa called rakiya. Then we visited the spring waters pool, where you will get a chance to soak if you like. It looks so inviting and the water so warm…if you can read the sign, it tells you what is in the water.

From there we visited a rose distillery…this was interesting. Started in 1909 as a family business then the communists took it from 1947 to 1967, then it became a museum and was used for holidays, then in 1991 the family got it back and in 1992 started production again. They have 150 hectares in organic roses and lavender. The average bag is 18 kilograms and the best pickers can pick 100 kilograms a day. It takes 3 ½ to 4 tons of rose petals to make just 1 kilogram of rose oil. It is said that Christian Dior started the rose oil craze when he said that Bulgarian rose oil was the best fixative for the aroma in perfumes. The old containers were made out of copper and you would fill them with rose petals, add water and heat and then the steam would come out bringing with it the rose oil and water. The new ones now are made out of stainless steel and the petals go in, then the steam rises up through the petals and out bringing with it the rose oil and water. You should have smelled this place…Rosa Damascena scent everywhere and yet it was not overpowering, just perfuming the air ever so gently.

Did you know that 85 percent of the world’s rose oil comes from Bulgaria and that it is more costly than gold? This area has the most perfect conditions for growing roses so you will find many many growers here. The round canisters is how it used to be transported, either copper or ceramic.

On to the Thracian Tomb here – this one is very special, UNESCO protected and as such because of that they have built a perfect match replica about 10 metres away so we can go in and see what it looks like. It is one of the most significant tombs of the Thracian culture in Bulgaria. Afterwards it was to the House of Roses to taste rose jelly, liqueur and purchase just about anything with rose in it. Many Japanese were in the shop while we were. They love this stuff.

After this we went to the Research Institute for roses, aromatic and medicinal plants. They have many roses on display plus fields of plants used in research and green houses as well. A wonderful museum to tell you all you need to know and hopefully by the time the tour goes they will be in their new building. Bulgaria is the largest exporter of rose and lavender oil in the world.

 

 
 

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