Two of my three weeks away were spent in the beautiful country of Bulgaria. A place of beautiful nature, unspoilt countryside, Christian Orthodox churches filled with beautiful icons like the one above which is in St. George’s monastery in Pomorie and so much more….
An abundance of produce which grows easily in the long hot Summers. The Winters there are short and sharp. Every house has a garden and lots of fruit trees. Plums, Peaches, Grapes and Walnuts seem to grow everywhere. Tomatoes here taste like nowhere else…so sweet and delicious.
The land here is open…no fences. The animals are taken out to graze daily by a shepherd who gets paid a fixed amount for each animal in his care. At night the Cows, Goats and Sheep are milked and kept in the yards behind the houses. It’s lovely morning and evening to hear the bells the animals wear tinkling in the distance before you see them.It’s a long day for the shepherd…7.30 in the morning to 7 in the evening. Each shepherd has 3 or 4 dogs to protect and herd the flock.
There are about 5,000 pairs of Storks in Bulgaria. Their arrival at the end of March is seen as an indication of the beginning of Spring. Bulgarians have great fondness and respect for Storks…they are associated with good luck and fertility.
Nests are never interfered with and it be considered very bad luck to kill a Stork. They have a great fondness for nesting on top of electricity poles. To protect the birds and stop them causing power outages special nesting platforms have been placed on top of the poles.
Small villages are dotted throughout the countryside. Always the same…stone and brick houses with red tile roofs. Most of the houses were built in the 50s by the Communist Government. Sadly many of the houses are now needing repairs but rural poverty means that the living conditions are less than we in the west would find acceptable. Bulgaria is now an independent republic.
Every town has a fruit and veg market. This one in the town of Elhovo is held twice weekly. The stalls are run by locals selling fresh local produce. Cherries were in season when we were there…so delicious. I bought a kilo for 6 leva. A lev is worth about 50 cent. Also on sale is the traditional drink Rakia. Made from Plums or Grapes it packs a punch but is delicious as a hot drink with honey. A brought home a couple of bottles for medicianal use in the Winter. No pleasure of course!!! The local honey is gorgeous too. Raw and unpasteurised…straight from the hives…just as Nature intended. I suppose that’s what I like most about Bulgaria…it is still pure and unspoilt…a bit like Ireland was 40 or so years ago.
Click on pics to enlarge.