Plovdiv – Amphitheatre Performance

We were lucky enough to be in town to catch a performance of traditional Bulgarian dancing with live music in Plovdiv’s amphitheatre – a truely magical experience … seeing this millennia old theatre full of spectators with a performance on stage.

Narrow-gauge to Plovdiv (via Septemvri)

We left Bansko in the early morning, now heading for Plovdiv.

The first part of the journey was by an old narrow-gauge train from Bansko to Septemvri (5 hours for about 100 km); here we changed to a modern train – to get into Plovdiv just another hour later.


Belitsa Bear Sanctuary

We left Gorno Draglishte and continued to Bansko … here we changed vehicles and carried on to Belitsa and its Dancing Bears Park. This park serves as a refuge for former dancing bears, freed from their previous lives.

Morning in Gorno Draglishte

This morning we had a further opportunity to explore Gorno Draglishte – this time by horse carriage.

Rila Monastery

From Sofia we made our way South into the mountains, the Rila Monastery being our destination. This Orthodox world heritage listed monastery is the largest and supposedly most impressive of all monasteries in Bulgaria.

The roots of the monastery go back to the year 927, however it was only in the 14th century, that it was moved to its present location. Its church – the Church of Nativity – was built in the first half of the 19th century, it is surrounded by the monastery, a beautiful four level building with nicely decorated balconies. The mountainous backdrop adds to the atmosphere – allowing one to easily forget the hundreds of other tourists.


From Veliko we continued to Bulgaria’s capital – Sofia – a three hour bus ride away (without toilet stop … ).

After arrival we went for a quick lunch in a market hall – to the have an orientation walk around town, taking in the most important sights and leaving plenty of time for personal exploration.