Skip to main content


New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Day 2 - Rila Monastery to Sofia: May 25, 2012

We woke to a drizzle of rain today and wandered downstairs for our breakfast of french toast with strawberry jam, sliced ham, cheeses, orange juice and coffee.  Then, we packed up and returned to Rila Monastery to see the inside of the cathedral and visit the museum.

There were a lot more people present this time.  We were glad that we had taken most of our photographs yesterday.  The interior of the cathedral was every bit as stunning and fresco covered at the outside porches.  Every inch was covered with darkening frescos.  The iconostasis was at least three stories high and made of carved walnut covered with gold leaf.  No photos allowed of the inside.

Since we had seen so much artistry from the Samokov school of icon painters, we decided to take a detour to see the town of Samokov on our way to Sofia.  Our first stop was the Bairakli Mosque.  The building was in the National Revival period style and the entry porch greets visitors with trompe-l'oeil murals.  Sadly the mosque, now a museum, was not open.  Peeking in the windows, we could see that this style of lovely murals covered the interior as well.

The History Museum was open and like last night's dinner, it was also a surprise.  The second floor held a collection of beautiful icons painted by the founding artists of the Samokov School of Icon Painting.
Archangel Michael
by Hristo Dimitrov, 1813
Archangel Michael

John the Baptist by Zachari Zograph, 1852

Back on the road we headed toward Sofia.  Along the way we saw people selling cherries.  My taste test found them not quite ripe, but the farmers were dealing with rainy conditions and probably picked them early.  Samokov was formerly an industrial town.  Now it is the central potato growing region.  Heaping bags of red potatoes and yellow potatoes for sale lined the roadways.  

We arrived in Sofia, finally, and checked into the Grand Hotel Sofia in the center.  We were meeting one of Dan's colleagues for dinner at 7:30 so we had a few hours to walk around and see the nearby sights of Sofia.  

The Neo-Classic National Theater
Russian Church (1914)
Backside of Aleksander Nevsky Memorial Church (built 1882-1924)

Interior of Aleksander Nevsky Church
During our few hours in Sofia, we kept seeing cars decorated with balloons blowing their horns and racing down the streets.  We also saw limos, hummers, a Rolls Royce, hummer limos, tow trucks, exotic sports cars all decorated with balloons and filled with teenagers.

In front of the very somber Aleksander Nevsky church, a party was going on.  Girls were dressed in eye-catchingly fabulous or bizarre outfits.  Roma musicians were drumming and young couples were dancing to the beat of the drums.  

This is high-school graduation--Sofia style.  Girls wear fantastic dresses, paparazzi, us, family members were everywhere taking photos of kids celebrating.  At each large hotel downtown there was a noisy graduation party.  

In front of our hotel, it looked like the academy awards.  Only the red carpet was missing.  Cars pulled up, girls dressed to be noticed stepped out, photographers took photos, friends hugged, and they walked into the hotel party.  

We quickly began getting ready, but just five minutes after we entered our room, Dan's colleague (Temenushka) called and said she and her husband Boyan were downstairs.  We thought she was early, but after dinner and after we had returned to our room, we realized that Bulgaria is an hour later than Macedonia.  We were late-they were on time.

Dinner was at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant called Manastirska Magernitsa.  Our dinner was so good.  I thought the choices would be similar to Macedonia, but the menu listed dishes I've never seen on a Macedonian menu.