Rila Travel Blog› entry 63 of 80 › view all entries
I have 3 days in Sofia so time to get out of the city and see the country. In the hills about 100km SW of Sofia is the Rila monastery, according to the friendly hostel staff one of the highlights of Bulgaria.
The road up to the monastery winds up a narrow valley with small farms and guest houses by the side of the road. Beekeeping is obviously popular here as most houses have a stall of honey for sale by the roadside. It is tempting to buy some but it will take me far too long to eat even a small jar and I don't trust myself to carry it too far.
The hostel runs day trips to the monastery but need a minimum of 3 people. There are two girls, one German and the other American, who want to go today but they are keen to try the local bus which is OK with me and they seem happy enough for me to tag along with them.
There is only one direct bus a day to the monastery which we miss by 5 minutes. The bus station staff realise what we want and stick us on a minibus that manages to catch up with the direct bus at a petrol station 10km out of town. It ends up costing us twice the price but that's life. The bus takes 2 1/2 hours arriving at 1pm and returning back to Sofia at 3pm, but two hous is enough time to see the monastery and eat a picnic lunch that the girls have brought with them.
The monastery is in a beautiful setting with vivid green mountains rising steeply on either side and is an impressive complex. The paintings on the inside and outside of the chapel are particularly fine.