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BULGARIA

"Every day is a new adventure."

Mazouz Acene

Bulgaria surprises us on several levels. It offers us very varied landscapes, often breathtaking and allows us to practice two of our favorite activities. We had a big crush on the mountain bike trails that we can discover in the country, among the most beautiful that we have been able to discover since the beginning of our trip! In addition to this, although at first glance the population seems quite cold, it is actually very kind and generous.

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A source of hot water

When we arrived in Bulgaria, the weather was not the best. It is cold and gray there. So we plan to go swimming in natural hot springs near the village of Roupite. 

 

Arriving there, we are surprised to see almost only locals with their caravans for the weekend. No tourists, just us and a Dutch girl with whom we exchange 2 words. 

 

These water sources are very different from the one in which we bathed in Greece. The pools there are smaller and shallower, but here we can choose the water temperature that we like the most. They vary between 35 and 70°. We wonder, moreover, how do people manage to bathe in this boiling water? The water doesn't smell like a rotten egg because it doesn't contain sulphur, but it is rich in minerals. We could drink it, but it is advisable not to abuse it.

 

At the bottom of the pools there is mud, which to be honest I only like moderately even though it's supposed to be good for the skin. We are surprised to find that, at depth where the water is less often renewed, the temperatures are cooler, even cold. We suddenly cold quite quickly and do not stay there for hours.

 

A few days later, we will have the opportunity to discover the hot springs near Stara Kresna which will convince us much more.

Mountain biking in Bulgaria

Not far from the city of Blagoevgrad, in the Bachinovo National Park, we discover several bikepark-type mountain bike trails. The ones we decide to take convince us from the first pedal strokes on the way up. Indeed, they do not only take us through roads or passable paths, but also through single trails with perfect slopes, neither too steep nor too flat. As for the descents, they are among the most beautiful that we have had the opportunity to discover since the beginning of our journey. The slopes are clean and there is something for all levels!

 

Later in our journey, we discover the Varvara/Velingrad region and its 37 superbly indicated official trails. We don't have time to go through them all, but we are blown away by the quality of the ones we do. We remember that, for lovers of bike, enduro and single trails, in Bulgaria we are served.

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Skiing in Bulgaria

It's mid-April and just when we thought the ski season was over, heavy snowfall has us wanting to get back up the mountain and play extra time to put our skis back on.

 

We arrive in the Rila National Park, where we park in the ski resort of Markudjik. From here we plan to explore the 7 Rila Lakes. These are small lakes surrounded by many mountains, magnificent to see both in winter on skis and on hikes in summer.

 

We wake up at dawn and prepare our things. Lucky, as always, when we get ready to go skiing or mountain biking, is impatient and would like to leave immediately. It's very funny to see him like that! During the climb, we have the right to a magnificent sunrise which illuminates the snow with its magnificent red and orange colors. It's just magical to relive such moments so quickly when we thought we had to wait a long time given the advanced season and the mild temperatures of the last few weeks. Unfortunately, a strong wind came to spoil the party and prevented us from reaching the lakes and forced us to turn back.

Sofia

Capital of Bulgaria, Sofia quickly gained importance. Already in Roman times, it was a key node in the trade route from Constantinople to Rome. There are also many vestiges of the key periods of the city and the religions that have been important there (Judaic, Christian, Orthodox and Muslim).

 

We discover a city that we like a lot, especially with the many traces of its history (especially around the Nezavisimost square) and with its restaurants and bars full of charm.

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Musala, first night in a tent.

We are planning to climb Mount Malyovitsa which is a popular peak in the 7 lakes region where we were last time. Knowing that because of the lack of snow, we will have to carry our skis over several hundred meters of vertical drop, we are only moderately motivated. We know, however, that this time it is indeed our last opportunity to get out the skis.

 

Passing near the ski resort of Borovets, Sevan has the good idea to go see if on the ski slopes, since the snow has been packed down there, there is still a way to go up in sealskin. Luck is on our side and we discover a "beautiful" band of white snow tending to brown which descends in the middle of the pastures and the forest which have already taken on a very green color. We therefore have the opportunity to climb, on skis, the highest peak in Bulgaria, Musala, which culminates at 2930 m.

 

We evaluate the outing and imagine being able to do it over 2 days. So we have to sleep one night in a tent in the snow.

 

It's 4 p.m., the sun is beating down, but here we are, ready to leave. We begin to climb on this spring snow made very soft by the sun. The weight of our bags is well felt, but after 800 m of altitude difference we finally arrive at the point where we want to land for the night.

Musala suite

We prepare our camp and Lucky observes a little what is happening around him. It's not only our first night in a tent with him, but it's also a first for Sevan and me.

 

We savor the sunset, all orange, gently descending behind the mountains. At night, the cold is very quickly felt. So we take refuge very quickly in our tent to sleep.

 

In the early morning, we begin the remaining 600 m of elevation gain to the summit. The snow is still well frozen which is not unpleasant to go up. However, because of our more relaxed pace, fatigue is felt and we are not the fastest.

 

We nevertheless arrive at the summit from where we see a magnificent panorama of all the surrounding snow-capped peaks. We are not long in descending, because the snow begins to turn. We savor the view one last time and prepare our skis for the descent which promises to be long because of the many false rising flats that we will have to cross.

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Plovdiv

Plovdiv, the second largest city in the country after the capital Sofia, is a city that has a lot of charm. We particularly appreciated the old Plovdiv (the old town) with its influences from the different great eras and its architecture dating from the 19th century. One of its most remarkable monuments is its Roman theater which is located in the middle of the city.

First real family photo

We stop in the middle of the woods to take a picture of the three of us, because we found that since Lucky has been traveling with us, we haven't taken a family picture yet.

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