Rila Monastery

And so we set out for an adventure, Linda and I. If you have never been here, you should know that Rila Monastery is not the easiest place to get to, but so so so worth seeing. I had read in the bible that a bus left Sofia Ovcha Kupel bus station at 10:20 and headed to Rila. I asked Mark to ask the swamis if this was true. The swamis returned with a time of 6:30am. I know, a ridiculous hour. But we were up and ready to go at 6:30 and headed out to the bus station…

…that was closed.

That’s right, peeps, CLOSED. So we went to the central bus station to see if perhaps there was a bus out of there–even though the bible said no bus from that station went to Rila Village (mind you, once the bus gets to the village, you still have to take yet another bus to the monastery itself). Umm….no. No bus from the central bus station goes to Rila.

But, according to the bible, there is a bus that goes to Dupnitsa. From there, you can take a bus to Rila Village and then catch a bus to the monastery. Yes, 3 buses. We were up for the challenge, and, at this point, we decided the bible knows all truths. Rely solely on that.

And so we climbed up on to an ancient looking blue bus headed for Dupnitsa. See, I prefer to travel by train because all the train stations have signs at the stops. The bus stops do not. And so I was not surprised when the bus driver dropped us two off at the side of a desolate highway and told us this was indeed Dupnitsa. We got off the bus and crossed said highway, but could not see any buildings at all anywhere. But…there was a random guy just sitting there on the side of the road. So I asked him in my flawless Bulgarian (go ahead, laugh, snort, chortle) if he knew where the bus station was. He said to go up a hill and to the right. Which we did. Still no bus station. Then there was another person I asked again. Same directions. So we walked another small hill and went to the right and lo! and behold! There it was. The bus station.

I went into the Kasa to buy some tickets, but the lady just yelled “Autobus!’ at me. When I asked which number sector I should be at, again she yelled “Autobus!” BUT WHICH NUMBER!!! “AUTOBUS!!”

So you can see, she was very helpful.

I knew from the bible that the bus would come at 10:00, and with my superior Bulgarian reading skills, I knew we needed to be at sector 3. But it was only 8:30. So we sat and had some snacks and watched pigeons and fed stray dogs until we saw two tall, very white people with large backpacks on them and khaki clothes. Aha. Tourists. There is only one place they could be headed…Rila Monastery! We would follow them.

The bus came on time, as the bible prophesized, and we got on. The ride to Rila Village was beautiful…and cute. The houses had grapevines growing all over them and everything was so quaint. Linda especially loved all the donkey and cart drivers in the middle of the road. Good times.

When we made it to the village, we saw we had more than 2 hours to kill before the next bus came. But, the white backpackers had an idea. Why not share a cab? Brilliant. And so we did. It cost us 5 leva each and we got there lickety split.

And here is what we saw (for fun, compare these with the winter pics):





Pretty amazing, huh?

After a few hours walking around, we went and had lunch–a whole other experience.


(Me, at the restaurant)

Linda cannot have garlic and onions. I wasn’t sure the waiter had understood her request, so I repeated it in Bulgarian (bez luk y checin) should you ever beed the phrase. Well, the dude brought all the luk (onion) to ME. He put raw onion on my potatoes. At first I thought it was my Bulgarian, but judging from the service we received and others did as well, I realized it was NOT me, it was HIM. We had a similar expereince with dessert. We wanted a crepe (palachinka) and he said he only had sheeps cream and blueberries. We thought he meant the filling would be that. Uh, no. He brought us a whole bowl of that with NO crepe. Grrr…

The bible then told us that a 3:00 bus will take us all the way back to Sofia. I asked the shopkeepers, and indeed that was true. Never doubt the bible. NEVER.

We got on that 3:00-oh-my-G*d-I-can’t-believe-how-bad-it-smells-in-here bus. BAD. It smelled REALLY REALLY bad. It took us to another bus which took us home. The second bus moved at the pace of a donkey and was hotter than…well, you know….


(You see how I am enjoying this ride…)

And so that concluded our adventures to Rila Monastery. Just like on the Travel Channel….

**I am leaving for the Amazing Race today, so I will finish the “Mother In Law” series when I return. There will, however, be updates on my Race trip (but no pictures until I return), so keep checking.