I'd travelled through Bulgaria on my way back from Syria, but I only stopped in Sofia for a few hours.
However on my 'Silk Road' trip I managed to spend a couple of days in Bulgaria. I took a tour out of Sofia to the Rila Monastery, I wasn't sure if the tour was going to take place, so I didn't do any research about the place just in case it didn't take place.
The drive out there was exciting due to the twisty roads up the valley, and the speed that the taxi driver took the corners. I think that my fellow passengers were a bit worried, but I'd been acclimatised to interesting driving styles durning my travels.
The setting for Rila Monastery is stunning - it's at the head of a steep tree lined valley, with a river rushing through it, and a view of a snow capped peak at the very top of the valley. I was fabulous when I was there in the summer, it must be magical in the winter with a layer of snow all around.
The monastery itself is in the shape of a rectangle that shapes the courtyard where the main church and bell town sits. The surrounding buildings seem to contain the living quarters for the monks, but that's off limits to visitors. The church is covered in frescos (which feature the Devil quite a lot), and the surrounding buildings are brightly painted, which gives a very refreshing air to the place.
The monastery rents out very basic rooms and when I go back to Bulgaria I'm hoping to spend the night at the monastery.