Hiking the Pirin Mountains 30 June – 11 July
Thinking back to the wonderful week and a half I spent walking in Bulgaria with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, it’s hard to pick out my highlights – there’s so much to choose from. The walking, the food, the culture… here are just a few of the experiences I won’t be forgetting any time soon:
Walking in Bulgaria was a delight, with something new in the terrain, scenery, and sights every day. Steep wooded slopes and high meadows ablaze with wildflowers and butterflies in the Rhodope Mountains, magnificent rocky peaks in the Pirin Mountains and in the Rila mountains, and a day of gentler walking with spectacular views of all three ranges.
Starting our days with lavish breakfasts with homemade yoghurt and local honey was a treat, as were the plentiful regional specialties we tasted as we travelled – the food was really worth walking for!
Serendipity was on our side when it came to hotels – it never feels like good news when a holiday company has to phone you two days before the off and say that your first hotel has been unexpectedly closed for a week!
But as it turned out, our first substitute, the ‘Authentic Houses of Kosovo’ was the most quirky place I’ve ever stayed and well worth the extra bus travel. We got our first taste of regional cuisine for dinner and breakfast, with each one carefully explained by our hostess.
Then to the Hotel Yagodina, which didn’t have the swimming pool that the scheduled hotel did, but for me more than made up for it in thoughtful touches like the laundry basin and balcony clothes dryer for each – it also had the most spectacular breakfast specials: bottomless yoghurt pot and a different type of local honey each day.
We were lucky with the weather, too – Bulgaria was having a heatwave, which did make the ascents a bit harder, but reliable sunshine and blue skies were a welcome change from storm-lashed, flash-flooded Britain.
In retrospect, even the sole exception, the malteser-sized hail which battered us on our descent from the highest peak in the Pirins was a positive experience… though I’d hope it would be a once in a lifetime one!
Overall, this was an excellent D+ holiday which fully justified the grading. It met my expectations in every respect and exceeded them in most.