Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday at the monastery...

On Saturday, I woke up and tried to shake off the rakia-induced cobwebs (with limited success). Stamen, a Bulgarian coworker who was kind enough to offer to take me up to the mountains, arrived in the hotel lobby just as the elevator doors were opening. Sofia looked gray and rainy so I was sure what kind of weather to expect up top.

Stamen had decided to take me to a very famous Bulgarian monastery called Rila. The fall foliage in the mountains was literally unbelievable. It's been a while since I've seen that kind of natural beauty. I used HDR to make the shots below but tried to balance them so they look like the images in my (hung over) memory. The colors really were this spectacular.
On the way up we stopped at a simple restaurant for a little more grub, Bulgarian style. We started with baked peppers and a soup made from cow stomach. If you load it with enough garlic and pepper, it's not too bad. My recommendation for those who may try it is to try not to look directly at it . I then had a plate of mixed meat that reminded me of a dish my wife and I ordered at a Greek restaurant in Bad Schönborn. Everything we ordered was excellent. Stamen and Dimiter, a coworker who joined us, ordered trout, which was served whole.
The monastery is a beautiful place way up in the mountains with a church in the center covered in gorgeous art. While the pictures turned out nicely, you have to see it "live" to get the full effect.Below is a cool shot of the cone-shaped roof of the old monastery kitchen. I can't imagine what kind of gruel that placed doled out, but I'm sure it inspired some of the images of hell on the church walls!I crashed for a while on the way back (snoring like an asthmatic donkey I'm sure) and slept on and off on the 2 and a half hour flight back (this time we made a brief stop in Viena). I'm looking forward to going back to Bulgaria, which I should have an opportunity to do a few times a year now.

No comments: