And A Shed….
13th May 2016
Early in the morning, after a good breakfast with delicious date jam and cottage cheese, we left our hotel in Serbia.
On the road, it was a beautiful spring morning and everywhere we went, people were working very hard…. The women working in the fields and the men driving their tractors along the highway. Today we were going to Bulgaria where mother had booked us a wooden hut to live in for two days. The border to this next country was only 5km away, but when leaving we discovered (like in Serbia), our Sat NAV, Sabina doesn’t know many places in Bulgaria…..In fact she only knows the capital Sofia, and we weren’t going anywhere near there!
After a short drive, we reached the border where we waited…. And waited and waited, until eventually we showed our passports, and re-entered the EU again.
It should be mentioned that it’s been noticed throughout the trip, that every time we cross a border the scenery of the new country is dramatically different to the country we have left. It is surprising that a matter of a few miles can make such a huge difference. As we entered through the border into Bulgaria the landscape changed- from flat and small hills, to a large rolling meadows and snow capped mountains could be seen in the distance.
The last time we tried to stay in Bulgaria, mum had another ” we’re not stopping here!” Moment. We were in a town environment in a place called Plovdiv, it was very dirty and it didn’t have a very good atmosphere, this time we were staying out in the country side, quite rural, and the villages were small and pretty.
For this country we once again needed to buy a vignette so after stopping of for some food and to buy the vignette, we got straight back on the road and headed deeper into the countryside. The road surface also improved. The road in Serbia was so bumpy my spine had been broken…..in Bulgaria though, it was like lying on a cloud….ahh.
As we passed Sofia we turned off again and were now completely in the boondocks, where the green meadows and snowy mountains were beautiful… It was like a scene out of the “Sound Of Music”-(cue Julie Andrews). We followed a mountain road, running along side a rapidly flowing river churning with white water. More by luck than judgement, and definitely not because of Mums amazing navigational skills we found ourselves in the Rila Monastry region ( which is where we wanted to be!) and in turn passed the famous monastery “Rila Monastry” , the road became a lane and we saw signposts for “Hebnla Bungalows”, encouraging in itself because the sign was written in English!
By this stage in the journey we had virtually given up trying to learn any of the languages, the language in the East of Serbia had changed dramatically from the language in the West, the reason I spotted this was because Geoff was insistent on watching CSI on Serbias only decent TV channel, the program was in English with subtitles. In the West of Serbia the subtitles were almost readable, in the East the language had taken on a strange alphabet, which looked similar to Russian. In Bulgaria it was worse! Mix some Russian with a bit of Greek, add a pinch of Slovak and there you have it!?!?
Anyway……. I digress, the road became a lane, the lane then became a track……. Then it appeared that we should just randomly drive across a field, erm, OK.
Then we arrived in what appeared to be Butlins in the 1920s.
Wooden shacks stood dotted higgeldy piggeldy around want looked like an alpine meadow. In their prime there was evidence that they had been painted in bright cheerful hues, pink, blue and green. These evidently weren’t their prime years.
The paint was flaking off and some were propped up on boulders, there were a collection of mis matched chairs sitting out on what I suppose was the chalets front porch, a wonky stove and a Formica topped table with rusty legs! I had an inkling that we might have another ” we’re not stopping here” moment, I looked over at Mother and was alarmed to notice a twinkle in her eye…….
Oh dear! I know that look, I feel a “Homes and Gardens” photo shoot coming on.
The lady, “Valentino ” who greeted us and showed us to our “shed” looked almost embarrassed as she illustrated where beds, blankets, fridge etc were, mums eyes sparkled, I’m sure Valentino must have thought mum was a loon!
There was an area marked out in rocks outside the hut where we could have a fire and Valentino pointed to a few areas in the forest where it would be good to find and collect wood, she lead us around the back of the hut and showed us a tall standpipe and tap flowing continuously over a stone basin, this was our sink and the water was coming off the mountain snow melt. It was the clearest and purest water I have ever tasted.
Mum had to change out of harem pants and flip flops, with reluctance we opened the back of the truck and waited for the stuff to boing out like a magicians trick flower, surprisingly it didn’t happen, all the bouncing about seemed to have flattened things down a bit, there was in fact space?! So, we succumb to the pending fear of death by exposure, or at very least chilblains on flip flopped feet and dug around for some boots and trainers……….. These retrieved, everybody piled on some extra layers and headed into the forest.
Mum and I went off collecting and Geoff was sawing. Soon we had quite an impressive pile of firewood, all sorted into specific piles; kindling, little stuff, big stuff. We had collected groceries on the way out here, and mum had bought two big mackerel for dinner. As Geoff and I began work on the fire, mum went off to play ” changing rooms” and to prepare the fish.
The three Bulgarians that lived in the Alpine meadow were stood, motionless in the middle of the field frowning and staring at our hut, when I looked up from setting the fire and laying sticks, to see what they were staring at and followed their gaze, I realised that it was because mother had actually organised a “Homes and Garden” photo shoot and was currently busy draping fairy lights around the doors and windows…. It really was a good job those cushions hadn’t fitted in at the start of this trip!!
We pulled the wonky chairs up around the fire after dinner and sat there, listening to the fire crackling, and the birds singing and the crashing of the river as it rushed down the mountain