Yagodina, Bulgaria *New Year’s trip*

When December came around, I realized I have no clue how we are going to be spending New Year’s Eve. My social calendar was getting crazier and crazier as 2015 progressed and by the end of it, I found myself craving some peace and quiet. Turns out my s/o shared my feelings so we got online and found a charming villa in a small village (population 431) up in the southern Bulgarian mountains.

Yagodina, Bulgaria is a gorgeous little village, hidden up in the Rodopi mountains, right by the border with Greece. it’s about 2h with a car from Sofia. The scenery on the way alone is absolutely worth taking the extreme one lane road for the last 20 minutes going up with your ears popping. There are plenty of beautiful towns that offer guest rooms and houses throughout the year but the history and the Mother Nature’s tourist attractions in the area made us choose this one.

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getting off the interstate, going up

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higher and higher

The village of Yagodina dates back to 5th century and it burned down 3 times throughout it’s existence. It’s best known for the two impressive caves located near by: “The devil’s throat”- because it’s so deep (but we couldn’t visit because it was closed due to extremely icy floors) and the Yagodinska cave that was opened. It’s a very unique travel spot, even for a cave! Permanent temperature is 6º С, all year-round, 10 km long, consistent of 3 levels with the remains of a “village”on the first floor that was inhabited by humans around 4000 B.C. Scientists found quite a few clay and ceramic dishes, dating back from the same time frame. The cave is also the home of 11 different types of bats, 6 of which are endangered from extinction across Europe. I was lucky enough to capture the little guy below! Without a flash or sound of course!!

bat

The Yagodinska cave has naturally forming pearls, unique rock formations and a naturally formed lake inside the cave! Below are some more pictures:

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insideriver

 

 

pearls

Naturally forming pearls

 

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cave-woman fashionista

The cave is located right by Byunovska river, revealing a breathtaking view

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river

Our villa was gorgeous, 2 minutes from the town square where there is a huge celebration, with fireworks, music and traditional dances to celebrate the new year.

townfire

It’s like renting your own apartment and you can cook but I also recommend you let the host make you some traditional for the region dishes with homegrown organic ingredients. It’s peaceful and the perfect place to reconnect with nature and recharge from the “big city life”.

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the view from our bedroom

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breakfast in the garden, I made friends with a mountain kitty 

This 3 day trip turned out to be the perfect start to a new year! I’m refreshed, recharged and ready for a fabulous 2016!

Xo, Silvia Mèlange

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Tsari Mali Grad

IMG_8265Last Sunday I went on a little getaway with my significant other. We visited Belchin; a small town in western Bulgaria, about 40 minutes out of Sofia. The village stands since Roman times and back then it was called Tsari Mali Grad. There’s a cabin lift that takes you to the top of St. Vlas hill, revealing a breathtaking panorama of the whole town.

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Church entrance and a plan how it used to look like in the 4th century

First we visited a gorgeous little church St. Petka that was built in the 15-th century. It’s a very unique place due to the fact that it’s foundation is the remains from a 4-th century Christian church. Right next to it with three towers still standing, is the Tsari Mali fortress built between 2-nd and 4-th century. You can walk through the grounds and even look down from the towers, daydreaming of how it once was. The main part is turned into a museum full of coins, ceramic dishes and weapons discovered on the grounds, some of which date all the way back to 4-th century. The whole place is surrounded by nature. I strongly recommend taking a stroll on the Eco path next to the fortress. Enjoying the pure air and spending some time around the centuries old forests. It’s an amazing place for picnics, meditation and reconnecting with nature. There’s also a very nice mineral pool and spa complex just a few miles down in town if you are in a mood to spoil yourself. With population of less than 500 people, the locals resemble one huge, happy family. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful (of course we got lost!) and eager to let us sample local organic fruits and vegetables and various kinds of homemade cheese. We had an amazing day and came back refreshed and inspired for the new week, glad we discovered another amazing place somewhere in the world! Don’t forget to ask which road to take on your way back so you can check out the 22 stork nests, homes of about 100 white storks annually. To the Bulgarian people storks are like shooting stars so make a wish if you see one! XO, Silvia Mèlange

View on the way up

View on the way up

Vintage weapons

Vintage weapons

Inside the chapel

  Inside the chapel

Coin collection with Roman emperors heads found in the ground

Coin collection with Roman emperors heads found in the grounds surrounding the area

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Inside the fortress

Миналата неделя, с моят любим решихме да избягаме от града за ден. Посетихме Белчин- малко селце в западна България, на около 40 минути от София. Селцето съществува от римски времена, когато е носело името Цари Мали Град. Кабинков лифт ни качва на хълма Св. Влас, разкривайки невероятна панорама на градчето. Първо посетихме църквата Св. Петка, построена през 15-ти век. Уникално място поради факта, че основите й датират от 4-ти век, също от църква. Точно до нея с три от кулите все още използваеми, е крепостта Цари Мали, строена между втори и четвърти век. Човек може да се разходи до наблюдателницата и да си помечтае как е било някога. Част от крепостта е превърната в музей, помещаващ монети, керамични съдове и оръжия датиращи около четвърти век. Цялото място е заобиколено от природа! Препоръчвам разходка по Еко пътеката,за да се насладите на вековни гори и чист въздух. Страхотно място е за пикник, медитация или за приятно прекарване сред природата. На няколко километра надолу има страхотен спа център с минерални басейни ако сте в настроение да се поглезите. С население по-малко от 500 души, местните са дружелюбни и отзивчиви (разбира се, че се загубихме) и предлагат домашни органични плодове и зеленчуци и домашно сирене. Прекарахме си страхотно и се върнахме освежени и вдъхновени за новата седмица, щастливи че открихме още едно невероятно местенце на света! На тръгване не забравяйте да попитате по кой път да тръгнете, за да видите 22-те гнезда, подслоняващи около 100 бели щъркела годишно! За българите щъркелите са като падащи звезди, така че си намислете желание ако ги видите! С обич, Силвия

The Eco path

The Eco path entrance

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Chillin’ in the tree

We made a few wishes

  We made a few wishes on our way out