In Bulgaria we spent our time in 3 main cities…
The first was Pancharevo just outside of the capital city, Sofia.
Pancharevo is famous for its beautiful artifical lake and mineral water hot springs. But because it was cold, and we already planned to have a spa day in the next town, we decided to get some city time in Sofia. We even went Salsa dancing one evening 😉
The next stop was Sapareva Banya town to explore the Seven Rila Lakes. When we drove into the town the weather got noticeably colder. It was 5 degrees when we checked into our room and at night it drop below 0 degrees so we shouldn’t have been surprised that there was snow when we rode up the mountain to check out the Seven Rila Lakes.
There was ice and snow on the road leading to the lift. This was our very first “true winter” riding experience. Our Michelin Anakee III tire seemed to do ok, but we were very careful and Stefan made sure to use the brakes as little as possible.
When we got to the lifts, we were told they weren’t in service yet (ski season hadn’t officially started) but it would take around 3-4 hours to hike up to the first lake! We weren’t sure what we were going to do but an enterprising 4 wheel truck driver offered to take us up to the cabin for the same price as the lift–about 5 euros per person 1 way.
We had no idea what we were getting into! It the most scary, yet exciting ride of my life! I was hanging on for dear life and getting thrown off my seat into the truck ceiling every time the truck maneuvered over massive rocks or blocks of ice and snow. I really had no idea those heavy duty 4-wheel jeeps could even drive through that sort of terrain!!
Here a couple of videos to get an idea how it was. And what was even more crazy… there was a couple who brought their 2 year old and their 5 year old kids with them. There were no seat belts, child seat or anything they were just clinging on to them and trying to make sure their heads weren’t smashed on the windows or jeep ceiling. I still don’t know how they manged to keep their seats and keep their children from being injured…
***You can’t see the extreme condition of the road in our video, but believe me there were large rocks, cliffs, ice and massive ditches!!
I decided to stay in the rest cabin as my feet were already too cold after only 20mins of hiking through the snow. Stefan pushed on and took a 4 hour hike to see some of the Rila lakes. Watch our video at the bottom of this post to see the Seven Rila Lakes during the winter!
Our last stop in Bulgaria was Nesebar (also spelt Nessebar)
Nesebar is a must-visit-destination if you are in Bulgaria. It’s an old town built on a peninsula and it has such an amazing ambiance. It feels like a coastal fishing village and an alpine village all at the same time.
There was no snow (but it does get cold, it was around 10 degrees during the day and 2-4 degrees during the night) but what gave it an alpine feeling to me, was that the old town is built on rocky hills… so the narrow, winding cobbled roads with wooden houses, wood piles, chimneys and ancient churches made it “feel different” than most coastal towns I’ve visited. I really can’t explain it, so you’d have to visit the place to see for yourself.
Nessebar fortress wall ruinsIt’s also a World Heritage Site so you’ll get to see some exceptionally well preserved ancient and medieval ruins.
That’s our Bulgarian experience in a nutshell.
Watch our video to get a better look 🙂