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Travel Diaries And More by Samloka

11-12.08.13 — Tel Aviv – Sofia – Borovets
by Garik and Tomash

Well, even though I haven’t finished my previous travel diary from 2009, here I am starting my new travel diary of my second attempt to success the Rila mountains trek from Borovets ski town to the Seven Lakes and the White Brotherhood annual meeting on the 19th August this year.

  • The day began very early when I woke up at two and a half AM. Few hours before, when I went to sleep I herd a message alert from my phone but decided to leave it since Tomash told me that he is going to sleep at seven PM and asked not to bother him from that time till we meet at three AM. Then, at two and a half AM I looking at the message and see that Tomash asked me at nine PM to print his boarding ticket, since he was still net-less. So I had to turn on my computer to print his boarding ticket. Soon I figured out that there is a slight problem – I can’t see the content of the ticket in my gmail account?! The only solution was to let Tomash use my computer in my bedroom at three AM at the morning so he can access his own email account and print the boarding ticket. In addition, he accidently closed one of the IE tabs I keep and I had no idea what was that tab. Just for the record – I hate to loose an IE tab which I keep and can’t recall what was on it!
  • My dear wife woke up more than she thought she would. We said good bye and left to catch a cab to the airport. Business lounge is waiting!
  • Tomash asked the taxi driver to turn his meter on, he assumed that this could saved us some money and I was not arguing. When we arrived to the terminal, it was so crowded that we had to wait couple of minutes till the driver could park and let us go! I have never saw the BGN departures terminal so crowded! Inside the terminal it was the same, enormous amount of people trying to find their way. We were lucky not to wait too much time in line since Tomash ordered a business class, that shorted the waiting time for us.
  • The time till boarding we spent by walking around in the Duty Free shops and stopping at the King David lounge  for a glass of beer in four AM at the morning and a small snack. We bought two bottles of whiskey, one for Tomash (Singleton 12 years) and one for the trek (Glenlivet Nadurra 16 years). I was the carrier of the Nadurra whiskey, which is the reason why I called my backpack Skinny Nadurra. Tomash eyes caught the Talisker 25 but it was way too expensive, for no less than 369$! One minute of “Google it” revealed the true price of the whiskey, standing around the 160$ mark.
  • The King David lounge was a nice place to visit for me for the first time. Free meal, booze and quit… what else a man needs before he takes off? It was a preface of what was expecting us at the airplane. Tomash had his “kosher” meal of fish while I had a true salmon sandwiches with a cream. It was still to early for me to drink alcohol at eight AM at the morning, but I can’t tell the same about Tomash who just asked for every sort of alcohol they have on board! For me just tomato juice…
  • The flight was too short to experience the business class. We received journals like National Geographic and newspapers but I couldn’t stand with the pace. And as Tomash promised me, we got the tooth brush set! From now on, I think I’ll stick with the business class in the future, why downgrade? I have plenty of room for my long feet there, can’t ask for more! Meanwhile I promised to myself on the way back home to Israel to ask for Martini red and Cognac.
  • We landed about 10 AM and after half an hour we were outside the airport waiting for a bus to Sofia. Bus #84 stopped a bit far of the station where it should stop, so we had to ran with our backpacks.  At the bus station we met another Israeli hiker that planned to walk to Montenegro and Macedonia and then to Dubrovnik in Croatia. I wonder if he make it. While we were standing in the bus, talking with the Israeli guy, Tomash decided it was too hot for him in the bus with his business class shirt, so he just took it off and change to a t-shirt… I think no body in the bus have ever seen a man changing his clothes in bus while the bus is moving!
  • Last night I’ve came up with a new trek route, that Tomash accepted. Instead of walking to Ivan Vazov hut from Malyovitsa hut and then to Skakavica hut and back in two days, I suggested to go straight to Skakavica hut from Malyovitsa hut and then to Ivan Vazov through the Seven Lakes and the white brotherhood on the 19th of the month. Since we agreed about the new route, it allowed us to stay a night in our start point – Borovets, and not be on a tight schedule on our first day in Bulgaria.
  • Our first stop was the Galaxy Center in Sofia with a Sport Depot outdoor gear shop and Billa supermarket, where we planned to buy a gas cartridge, water supply and bread. Everything was smooth with our first day in Bulgaria until we reached Sport Depot. We discovered that they don’t have the correct gas cartridge with a thread. Some girl in the shop convinced us that a gas cartridge without a thread will fit Tomash MSR stove. It didn’t! We went outside the shopping center just to figure it out. We had no choice but to get back into the store and buy a fitting stove for the gas canister we just bought. We were so upset we didn’t noticed that there was another camping store just in front of Sport Depot store – the Stenata, but we’ll get to it at the end of the diary. However, we decided not to try the gas canister with the new gas stove we bought, we had a little hope that may be in Borovets we’ll have a better luck. After the Sport Depot, we stopped at Billa and bought water, bread, a giant cucumber for Tomash and hankies because I forgot to bring from Israel something to clean our hands while we are at the wild.
  • Our next stop is the Yug bus station, situated not far from the Galaxy Center. In the minute we came there, the minibus to Samokov began to fill up. We were among the last to get in. We were lucky to have a seat, because some of the locals that took the minibus on the way had to stand all the way. Me and Tomash took a nap and missed some of the view to Samokov, but I can’t say it was a good nap because the ride was not so smooth. At Samokov bus station we waited about 15 minutes for the minibus to Borovets to arrive. This time there were less people. One of the passengers, a local pensioner began to speak with us on Hebrew! He was kind and suggested us a youth hotel to stay in Borovets for 15 Leva per person. Well, we took a four star (that what they say) hotel Flora for 28 Leva for both of us, but still, he was very nice old man.
  • After we settled down a bit in our room, we went outside to look what’s in Borovets, where is the red route to Musala peak starts and where can Tomash get a nice trout for a decent price. On the way we noticed the Sport Depot store that looked like it is closed just outside the Samokov hotel. Despite our phone call to Sport Depot from Israel and emails we sent to them asking about this store, receiving negative answers about existence of it, the store was there and it was OPEN! Moreover, they had the exact gas canister we needed for Tomash stove! Lucky us! We bought the canister and decided to try to return the gas stove and canister we bought in Sofia on our last day in Bulgaria prior our flight to Israel because the guy refused to accept it and refund us. We tried to understand what is the difference between the stores but without a success, except the fact that they sell a different products, thus we couldn’t return it here… Go figure, Bulgaria…
  • Later, we found a small and a nice restaurant not far from Flora hotel. Tomash took trout, I was more in a Shopska salad, beans soup and a pork kebab. We asked for tap water only because we wanted to buy later a beer in one of the small stores near by. When we bought later beer, we walked and drank, and me of course had to spill some of the beer… as usual… Tomash says it’s because I don’t keep a space between my lips and the bottle when I drink, so that there will be equal pressure inside and outside the bottle.
  • When we came back to hotel, we had our 50cc of Nadurra whiskey, watched the athletics world championships for a while a went to sleep. Tomorrow is a difficult day and since there is no breakfast in the hotel, we’ll start the day as early as we can. Tomorrow we are about to  ascent almost 1300 meters to the Everest shelter.
View from Flora Hotel to Yastrebets Gondola

View from Flora Hotel to Yastrebets Gondola




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