Our day excursion to Rila Monastery was amazing. Our tour bus wound up into the Rila Mountains to reach the picturesque little monastery, which was nestled in a little crook shadowed by the surrounding peaks. There were elaborate and colorful frescoes covering most of the outer buildings within the monastery, and inside the church. We weren’t allowed to take photos within the church which was unfortunate because it was so beautifully painted. Every inch of surface was covered in Byzantine (I think?) iconography. The space itself was rather small and dark compared to the expansive setting of the mountains. The only light came from a few small windows and the altar area where hundreds of votive candles sputtered and smoked. A tiny, ancient nun wove in and out of the smoking flaming candelabra; plucking the lit candles from their holders, snuffing them out and tossing them into a basket at her feet.
After the monastery, we wound 3km down the hill to a little hotel/restaurant that’s owned by the monastery but family run. I had a lunch of tomato/cucumber salad and potatoes (big surprise!) and pan-fried fresh river trout that had been fished out of the river next to the hotel that morning. After lunch we stopped at a little roadside stand that sold honey of all kinds. I bought a little jar of honey to take home.
The girls (Candise, Carson, Amy, Sarah, and I) decided to spend our last night in Sofia together. We’ve been travelling together since Istanbul (almost 2 full weeks). So we walked to a grocery store and bought junk food, cheese, crackers, and fruit and came back to Amy and my hotel room to watch “Baby Mama” on my laptop. It seemed like so long since we’d watched any American media that wasn’t dubbed over in Turkish, Bulgarian, or German. To cap the night off we had a little earthquake! Later after everyone left for their own rooms, Amy and I were just reading in bed when the shaking began. I recognized the side-to-side shaking as an earthquake, but it seemed fairly mild in intensity. I checked the USGS website this morning, but there was no report of a quake in the area, even though several people I’d talked to this morning all felt the same thing. So someone should research that for me.
I’m in the Munich airport right now typing this all up. My laptop is about to lose battery power so I’ve got to cut it short and I’ll post this to the blog when I get to London.