Well, well, well - it took me about a month, but now they're finally here: the pictures from the trip to Trigrad on August 12th, 13th, and 14th - almost a month ago. The original idea was to go visit the "Slunceluna" (Sunmoon or something similar) music and art festival there, but it turned out to be quite a bit more :)
As usual, if the gallery is giving you trouble as to access control, usernames, passwords, that kind of stuff, all you need to do is ask.
This weekend, a bit extended due to the OSCE meeting in Sofia, was a perfect possibility for Dobri, Iva and I to head over to Chiprovci and spend some time in the Mechkarnik area, where Iva's family has a little chalet, a bit on the spartan side. A great time was had by all on Saturday and Sunday, then on Monday we went to see Vera and her little daughter Evgenia. Here you can find some pictures and some comments in Bulgarian at the Ringlet gallery.
As usual, if you do not have access to the gallery, just drop me an e-mail and I'll teach you the magic spell.
Another weekend, another trip away from Sofia - this time to the Rila Monastery. A great night spent at a motel several kilometers above the monastery, at the Cyril meadows; a misty morning - well, okay, a rainy morning mostly spent sleeping in; a somewhat rainy trip back to Sofia. And, of course, some pictures :)
This weekend we took another trip up to Dobri's place near Tryn. It was sunny, it was fun, it was all about the beautiful sights and fish and pork cooked over an open fire, it was even a bit of a thrill (in the 'thriller' sense of the word ;) when Andrey told us we had a flat tire, and quite a bit of a relief afterwards, when it turned out to be just a loose valve, it was a great night out (well, we *did* sleep in-house *and* in the sleeping bags), it was a great trip down the canyon of the Erma river, and here are the pictures!
(as usual, if you don't have the username/password to access the Ringlet gallery, just drop me an e-mail, I'll gladly provide them to any interested parties. The point is, anonymous/crawler access is disabled)
Another weekend not spent in Sofia: we had originally planned to gather some people together and spend Saturday night at a chalet in the mountain of Vitosha, but then Iva's coworker Dobri came up with a much, much better idea - his folks' place in the village of Krusha (see the note below for the pictures). On Saturday Dobri had some work to do with a good old friend, Hristo Erinin (some people might know him better as 'zorlem', at least on IRC), and when Iva, Petya and I dropped by to get a map of sorts so we could actually find the place, Hristo regretfully refused to come along, citing his four-month old daughter as a fair enough reason. So Dobri drew us a map, we picked up Iva's university dorm roommate Polly and her husband Milen, and drove off into the sunset... well, alright, not all the way towards the sunset, merely towards Krusha.
This village, near Tryn, is just a couple of klicks off Bulgaria's western border with Serbia. We took the southern road, along the road to Tryn. Consequently, the first set of pictures shows mostly the countryside in the lands west of Sofia. There were a couple of fun moments when we had to leave the road to Tryn and drive through a couple of other villages to get to Krusha - there were no signs for that detour, and there were no signs at the entrance and exit of the first village, Vrabcha. Still, we found the way somehow, and reached the bus stop at Krusha.
There, we got off the cars and started the second part of the journey - the search for Dobri's place itself. This involved a couple of wrong turns too, a scouting expedition by Iva and me, and two phone calls to establish our exact location (and among the mountains there, the coverage is not all that good for purely physical reasons) - but in the end, we made it!
Once we got there, we pitched the tent, gathered some wood, built a fire, and set on the daunting task of cooking, eating, and generally having fun :) After a couple of hours, Dobri called to say he was getting ready to bring his girlfriend along and asked whether it was cold out there. Imagine our surprise, then, when it turned out that Hristo and his wife had decided to come along with him, and to bring their daughter, too! And come along they did - Dobri, Vassi, Hristo, Mira, and the four-month old Dara - out in the partly-tamed wilderness...
The rest of the camp pictures were taken on Sunday morning, after Iva, Petya and I had spent the night in our tent, and the others - in the small house. We fixed some quick breakfast, fried some fish, Iva and I helped Dobri at bringing water up from the well, then we ate the fish... and then it was time to go. The drive back seemed so much shorter than the way there, maybe because Dobri took us the other way, through Dragoman and Slivnica. Anyway, we ended up in Sofia at about 5pm, somewhat tired from the hot sun beating down on us on the way back, but quite rested and happy to have escaped the city for yet another weekend.
Ah, about the pictures... As noted in the previous entry, anonymous access to the Ringlet gallery has been disabled, but all you have to do to view them is just drop me an e-mail.
Some of the pictures from the Whirlwind Tour are now online at the Ringlet gallery. For various reasons, anonymous access to the gallery is not allowed any more, although all you have to do is drop me an e-mail and I'll let you see them.
Those are only a few of the pics; the full collection is available on CD for anyone who asks me, but you'll have to do it in person, since unlike some great people out there, I'm not in the business of distributing CD's by e-mail :)
Pics from the Whirlwind Tour will be posted tomorrow. Actually, I will only post a few pics, but anybody who asks will receive a CD with the full indexed HTML-converted 637MB of full-scale pictures, or a smaller one - 76MB of pics scaled down to 1024x768. The CD's have been ready for a couple of days, just waiting for somebody to find the time to pick the pics to be posted and write a couple of comments... well, I've picked the pics now and transferred them to the server (not online yet though), give me just a bit more time for the comments :)
Well, our whirlwind holiday tour of Bulgaria has ended and now we're back in Sofia. It all started a bit funky, since I had to go back to Sofia on Monday after just a weekend in Chiprovci and various reasons kept me here till Wednesday, which made the rest of the holiday kind of hectic. Still, we were able to leave on Wednesday and do a Sofia - Troyan - Lovech - Pleven - Tutrakan - Rousse - Srebarna - Silistra - Dobrich - Balchik - Varna - Pliska - Madara - Sofia tour in five days. In the words of some mountain bikers we met on the way to Musala a couple of weeks ago (for some reason I didn't blog about our second, successful attempt to climb Musala), I've got to start wearing a sign saying, "Yep, I'm crazy alright, please don't ask!"
It was a great tour all in all, as witnessed by the fact that I just didn't have neither the time nor the desire to take a couple of minutes each day and write up some notes for this blog. I guess I'll have to do it tomorrow, and also put up some of the pictures - just some of them, since with the new 512MB flash card for the camera one thing kinda led to another and now we have about 800MB of pictures for the past week :) And now it's back to plodding through the wads of e-mail, news articles, blog entries and whatnot that have piled up - who woulda thunk that so much could happen in just one week?
This weekend was again dedicated to outdoor and out-of-Sofia activities - and no, it was not just Rob's hike to the Seven Lakes that made us choose Rila :) Unfortunately, right now a webserver is experiencing some out-of-disk-space ailments, so you'll have to wait a day or two for the pictures.
So Iva, Petya, Iva's coworker Dobri and I left Sofia on Friday (in the hot, hot afternoon - about 7-8pm, but it was indeed hot!), thinking that we would drive to Borovetz or somewhat higher up and camp out for the night. However, about midway between Sofia and Borovetz we decided to camp out on the way to Malyovitza instead and drive back to Borovetz on Saturday. There was a nice place just above Govedartzi with a meadow big enough for three tents and plenty of space left. That's where we waited for another coworker of Iva's - Martin - and two more girls, who arrived at about one in the morning on what was Saturday already.
After a good night's sleep we drove to Borovetz, where Martin and the two girls went back to Sofia. The rest of us took the lift up to Yastrebetz, fully aware that waking up at about 9am and getting to Borovetz at 11am does not a good day for climbing Musala make: since the plan involved getting back to Sofia on that same day, we had to be back at the lift before 4pm, which did not quite leave enough time for climbing Musala and back. Still, it turned out to be a great hike along the mountain ridge, then down to the "Musala" hizha, and back to Borovetz.
Somewhere along the way, Dobri had got the idea of eating fish into his mind, so we stopped at Shturkelovo Gnezdo on our way back to Sofia. Initially the plan was just that - grab a bite, then go - but as we all know, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, the enemy in this case being the splendid weather, the slight breeze, and the calm waters of the Iskar lake. Despite the protests of Iva and Petya, we rented a boat and spent an hour trying to come to grips with the concept of rowing with two oars that are actually synchronized, or at least waving two rows aronud in a vaguely synchronized manner. Then, just as it started looking as if it's not that difficult after all, the time was up.
On Sunday, a good friend and former coworker celebrated his birthday in the village of Gorna Malina, not too far from Sofia. Sun, fresh air, steaks and meatballs on the BBQ in the shade, a hammock strung between two trees - I think there's just nothing more to say :)
Choose countryside. Choose quiet. Choose friendly neighbors who actually now your name. Choose star-filled skies. Choose crickets. Choose fence-painting in the sun. Choose mountain slopes covered with centuries-old woods. Choose wild strawberries in the shade. Choose blue skies straight from a children's book. Choose honey gathered barely an hour ago. Choose air so fresh it's intoxicating. Choose fireflies dancing in the moonlight. Choose wine pressed from grapes you picked yourself. Choose a rooster instead of an alarm clock. Choose frogs serenading at dusk. Choose fresh milk that will never ever know preservatives. Choose walking for hours without coming across human buildings. Choose bee stings if you're not careful. Choose storks nesting on the belfry. Choose getting sunburned on freshly-cut meadows. Choose chasing a hedgehog across the garden. Choose rest. Choose life.
Well, the Easter weekend at and around Troyan is over, and yesterday we came back to Sofia. It turned out that not only is there a street named after me in Pernik, but that I have an alter ego - a renowned lawyer in Lovech! (For those who cannot read Bulgarian, the black plate on the wall on Targovska Street lists the names of lawyers, and the very last name on the list is "Peter Pentchev").
Talk about a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide outlook... Not that I have anything against lawyers, mind - in fact, some of my best friends are lawyers (well, attorneys, actually, but it's close enough for government work ;)... still, it was a bit jarring :)