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


Lonely Planet ranked this country as number 10 of top destinations to visit in 2011. I didn’t know that before deciding to visit to see if it would be a possible tour idea…I am glad I did! A country full of history, mystery and warm people, add to that delicious food, fascinating architecture and lovely green spaces and you have the recipe for a delightful time.

I did wonder whether I would get there though….

I arrived at LHR the morning of the 24th, this was the day after my Paris/Chelsea tour ended, dropped off my big bag at Hilton Terminal 4 Hotel (where I would overnight on the way back) had the taxi take me to Terminal 1, checked in at the Lufthansa desk, went through security and headed to the lounge. I no sooner handed her my boarding card to check when she told me that my flight was just cancelled. No reason given and I had to go to the Lufthansa desk to get another flight booked. Easier said than done as I had to go to an area miles away it seemed, go through immigration as if I had just arrived and then find check in…wow, when I found it, it was packed with people….hundreds it seemed in economy lines and just a bit less in business….so glad I was in this line as I booked using my miles. After a wait of almost three hours I got to the counter to find out that one of the BA flights had engine problems and landed on our take off lane, thus blocking it for over 200 flights that had to be canceled! Lufthansa could not get me out that day so I had to overnight. To their credit they were magnificent under this pressure. Room, lunch, dinner and cars to hotel and back again were arranged for me so that I could take a non stop flight with BA the next morning.

So, I got to stay in another hotel that night, had a lovely lunch and dinner, and relax until my car got me the next morning at 6 a.m. The Novotel London West was a really nice place to stay – see my review on TripAdvisor.

May 25th, up early to head to the airport Terminal 5 for my BA flight and this time check in was done, through security and to the lounge. Not too much was open at that time of the morning but I was surprised that the lounge was. Big open space with lots of food and drink, papers to read, internet…it had it all. Arrived into Sofia around 1 p.m. out to arrivals and Ivelin, my ground handler and Elka my guide were there to greet me. Ivelin had bought me flowers even…since I had missed a day I had some catchup to do !!

First stop was the Royal Botanic Garden of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. It was started by King Ferdinand in 1882. The ‘gardens’ are really just the glass houses, but they have about 6 small houses chock and block full of wonderful plants, all healthy and happy and named. There were a few that I did not recognize so was happy to wander around here for a bit. An excellent place to visit – they exchange with other botanic gardens and have amassed quite a wonderful collection from tropical through to succulents.
Next stop was to the Boyana Church….built in the 10th century for a wealthy family. Inside (no photos allowed) you will find some of the most beautiful art representing medieval Eastern Europe. It was probably saved because it was hidden away on a grand estate. There is a painting in there done in 1259 – they believe it was done by Vasily but because it was not a good thing for the painter to sign his works then – it was really the hand of God who painted this, not the painter…Usually these works had one master, an assistant and a couple of apprentices. This church is under UNESCO protection. It was amazing to see just how perfect these frescoes were, like they were just painted, so clear and crisp. Built in three stages, 11th, 13th and 19th centuries and each having its own layer of frescoes….imagine!

Then on to the National History Museum which was really quite remarkable. This was once the home of the Bulgarian Communist President in the 60’s and was huge. Inside it was filled with ancient treasures including a clay mask with pieces of 23 karat gold on it – dating back 5,000 years! They say this is the oldest gold in the world. The jewelry was astonishing including the way it was found…a jeweler was traveling through the area and stopped to get something to eat, where he found a woman there wearing this most magnificent necklace – it turned out to be over 3,000 years old. (photo) Another time farmers were out in the field feeding their pigs and found some of them licking at something. They picked it up, cleaned it off and discovered that it was gold. In all there was over 12.5 kgs of gold from the 15th century that the pigs were using as a salt lick!

You just have to imagine that with all the history of this country that there would be so much buried under the soil..it is just a matter of time before it is discovered.
In the evening as we walked from our hotel to dinner we passed a car with this lovely bouquet on it…we discovered that the couple were having their wedding dinner at the same place we were eating…and what a perfect place to enjoy it. As you can see by the food – it was delicious and just look at the ambiance of the place!

 

 
 

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row