There were a few traffic signals that left us with questions such as what does a gold diamond mean and what do you do when there is a green traffic light with a stop sign beside it?
Our first stop was to the 11th century Boyana Church. Actually it was built in three time periods; 11th, 13th and 18th century. The frescos date mostly from the 11th century. Lovely.
The small church is surrounded by grounds filled with greenery, potted plants and bird feeders and three now very large giant redwood trees whose seeds were brought from Canada and planted sometime in the 1800s.
From Boyana Church we continued our drive heading to Rila Monastery about 1.5 hours south of Sofia. The landscape was similar to Ontario but hillier. There are a similar mix of deciduous and coniferous trees. The higher up into the mountains we travelled, the more beautiful and dramatic it became.
The Rila Monastery was gorgeous. Flowing columns of red and black and colourful frescos illustrating many stories.
Unfortunately I had to go to the bathroom and because they had no toilet paper, I used my last Kleenex. And the toilets were just holes in the ground.
The monastery is still active populated by monks in black robes and long beards. One monk inside the church was very tall, at least 7 feet. He could have been a bouncer.
We went to a restaurant just outside the monastery beside a babbling river. The sun beat warmly on our backs as Graham ate his local sausage and potatoes, John ate a salad (he’s still feeling a little off) and I ate a cuddly rabbit done with the monastery recipe. I also tried the Bulgarian Rayka (which ended up being some kind of hard liquor, not my favourite). Very relaxing.
The countryside on the drive home was lovely. We passed numerous shepherds and their flocks of sheep. Unfortunately I dozed off for part of the drive.
We stopped at the local grocery store near our apartment on the way back. Our car made it easy for others to tell who was the tourist...with the words “rental car” written in English on the side doors and hood. Hopefully car burglars here can’t read English.