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Travel Diaries And More by Samloka
Aug
19.

19.08.09 – Blagoevgrad – Melnik
By Garik and Lena

  • We woke up in the morning in our nice hotel. The breakfast was at the restaurant where we ate last evening. When we came, there were a large group of French tourists. We took a seat at a side without knowing whether this is a self service or not, because no one asked who we are or are we staying in this hotel. So we sat there for about 15 minutes till Lena got so hungry that she went to ask where is the food. When she asked in the kitchen, they gave her two plates with bread, cheese, jam and honey and told her to go back and seat. Meanwhile a waitress came to the table and took an order fro two tea. On her way back she saw Lena with two plates, so she took the plates from her… So if you ask me, I’m still don’t know how things are working there.
  • After 10 minutes more or less the waitress came back with the two plates and two tea. Later another couple entered the restaurant. It turned out they are from Israel. They’ve rent a car in Sofia and spent three weeks in the area of Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia. They said that Bulgaria is the most civilized but we tend to disagree. They were heading towards the Rila Monastery, so we said goodbye and left the restaurant. We planned to take a picture of the hotel before we leave and maybe to pick some apples, but then we only took a picture of the hotel. We didn’t want to look like “tourists” picking apples from a tree. When we came back into hotel, we asked for taxi from the reception, to take us to the bus station.
  • On our way to the bus station I saw a horse with a carriage and a big black sack to his backside to prevent him from sully the ground. The taxi driver took us to the governmental public transportation bus station and not the private one that we wanted. So we had to walk a little to the private bus station, which is right near the railway station, where we approved that we can take a train to Greece from Sandanski station with Blagoevgrad tickets…. At least we planned to do that.
  • We returned to the station. Our bus departures at 11:00 AM. It’s about in an hour… So we stood and waited. We saw an old man buying a shirt in some small store at the station and he was wearing exactly the same shirt that I have back home. Can you believe it? When the bus arrived we took our seats and then realized that we have no water with us! That is a mistake in Bulgarian buses! It’s a two hour trip in a bus without conditioning and through small opened windows blowing hot wind! The bus driver tried to make the feeling better by opening some hatches in the roof of the bus, but I was sceptic about it and I was right.
  • When we passed Sandanski, we tried to understand what is all the buzz around the city. It was a simple bad looking for a tourists’ eye place. Just like Blagoevgrad more or less. I hope tomorrow we will find it more attractive.
  • We arrived to Melnik around 01:00 PM and just like LP says, as soon as we put our feet on the ground, couple of grannies jumped on us, offering a place to stay. Offering 15 Lev per person per night. We thanked them politely and started looking for the hotel we decided to take last night. The path to hotel was not easy, it was couple of steep stairs we had to go with our bags on. Also the path itself was not so clear, lucky us, someone walked ahead of us, and looked like he’s going in the same direction that we should, so we followed him. When we arrived at last, we discovered that the hotel is empty! Not only end of season, looks like the finance crisis of the world has it’s own impact here. Inside the hotel, we met the owners of the hotel, a really nice old man and his wife. The old man spoke quite a good Russian, since he was a Russian diplomat driver in his youth. He told us that back in the place where he was born , he was called “Russian Ivan”. He also showed us their own winery in a basement while his wife prepared a room for us. We agreed for breakfast tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM and went upstairs to our room. “Ivan” promised us wine tasting if we will eat dinner at the hotel, so we kind of agreed. The dining room was really authentic.
  • After some arrangements we left the hotel, we wanted to see the surrounding area and Melnik itself. The only map we had was the LP map, and we already know that their maps aren’t good enough. We headed first up the hills around Melnik. We visited on our way a small winery and tasted their red semi dry wine. The waiter inside the winery was really nice and had an Armenian accent or something like. Then we continued and stopped at some famous local merchants’ house. Inside there is a small museum and a winery. At this point, we were a little drunk because we had drank on an empty stomach. Lena asked to stop with the tastings, at least until she will see the local museum. So we went to see the local museum. The museum is not worthy visiting it in a place where you can taste as much wine as you like, so we left after few minutes and continued our journey. Suddenly we saw narrow passageway and a sign wrote in English, pointing for points of interest. So we turned and then discovered that the passageway leads upwards the mountain surrounding Melnik. It took us 15 minutes to get up and reach a split ways. Two points of interest to the left and two to the right. So we turned left, considering that all the sites are in a round trip. At the end we pretty much close to our presumption. The path took us between ruined old churches and monasteries. One of the points of interest supposed to be some sort of fortress. I don’t really remember now what did we find in the end; I can only recall that out of four sites we saw three. It was enough for us so we decided to go back. The whole adventure took us about an hour but we dehydrated a bit, because we didn’t have enough water. During the walk back to the town we got hungry so we ate the waffles we had still from the flight.
  • When we came back in town, we spent some time walking from store to store. After walking here and there we got ourselves fresh figs. Then Lena turned back to hotel, she was a bit tired, while I went to the local super market to get us water. Also, my dad asked me to bring him some Bulgarian waistband and a beer opener; so I bought one waistband on my way but didn’t find any opener… How the hell do they open a beer bottle?!
  • In the evening we went to eat dinner. We staid in the hotel restaurant and at first I felt weird that we were alone… But then we received so much attention!!! We ordered dishes that are served in casseroles, tarator soup and of course homemade wine! Everything was delicious and served in a traditional way. Homemade wine of 1/2 lt. cost us 5 Leva! In a time we waited for our food, we talked with the old man. At some point we talked about local tomatoes, so he went to the kitchen and brought a pile of tomatoes! A huge ones! Each tomato about 1 Kg! We had a great dinner!
  • Later we spent some time on the balcony, ate few figs and went to sleep. The dinner was the highlight of the day! This place is recommended ++

The hotel in Blagoevgrad

The hotel in Blagoevgrad

Melnik

Melnik

In one of the wineries

In one of the wineries

"Ivan" shows us his huge tomatoes

"Ivan" shows us his huge tomatoes




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