At this stage, I still feel like being somewhere else. After such a trip, one needs time to adjust back to daily life, to collect thoughts and to reflect on the accumulated experiences. This trip is no exception.
The truth is, before taking on this venture, I didn’t know what to expect.
The only thing I had planned was the very beginning.
Everything after that experience at 5:30 in the morning of July 1st was completely unknown to me and got clarified with each passing day. Every visit, every new acquaintance, every recommendation showed me the next point I had to visit.
All I had prepared beforehand, very superficially, was this map with the approximate itinerary and the time I was planning to spend in each region. Apparently, I had put quite a lot of precision on it, because the end result in terms of time spent and the specific days allocated to each region coincided almost entirely with this seemingly chaotic scheme.
During these 66 days I covered exactly 7605 km, or 20 times the distance between Sofia and Burgas.
Our wonderful country is bigger than we think, and I probably haven’t even visited 10% of the places that are worth discovering. Curiously enough, after visiting a particular region, I often received questions such as, “Did you visit…?”, “Did you explore…?”, “Did you meet…?”, while most of the times the reply was: “Unfortunately, Not”. I have definitely left many tasks for the future.
Every day, without exception, I was on the road.
During the day I traveled, while almost every night I slept in a different place. A huge thank you to all those guest houses which responded to this initiative and invited me to stay over. Having the opportunity to be guest in so many different people’s houses from all over Bulgaria, I can safely and confidently state:
We Bulgarians are exceptionally hospitable people!
For a long time, I firmly believe that family owned accommodations (be it guesthouses, family hotels, campsites, or similar) play a significant role in the overall impression of the whole experience of any trip. If it depends on people, such as those who I had the pleasure to stay with, I am sure that every single visitor of Bulgaria is in safe hands.
My understanding of hospitality goes way beyond the warm welcome, cozy atmosphere and being provided all you need, but about a complete immersion into the local environment and lifestyle.
I’m talking about places like Old Lovech, an authentic 200-year-old house whose owner, Dimitar, has built a museum like place that preserves the history of this ancient city; about dedicated hosts such as Boris and Svetlana from Guest House “Ray”, Chelopek, Vratsa, who will not only welcome you but also walk you around the region; for people like Krasi, the hostess from Eco House “Darina”, Ivaylovgrad, a true encyclopedia of local customs and traditions, as well as a skilled cook who preserves and recreates ancient recipes (as seen in the post above); etc.
It’s impossible to accommodate in a single article the impressions of nearly 60 places, each of which with its own unique style, leaving lasting impressions and friendships for a lifetime.
Organic, Botanical and Animal Farms; Nature protection centers and animal observation sites; Tours by foot, on a horse, cycling or in water; Wineries, Craft Beer places, Dairy farms, Chocolate factories and other tasting places; Rose oil factories, Pottery workshops, Weaving ateliers, Ethnographic complexes and other places preserving customs, traditions and crafts; Cave visits, kayaking, 4×4 safaris and countless other adventures …
…there is a wide diversity of experiences waiting to be enjoyed by those travellers daring to truly explore Bulgaria!
I do not know if it will take me a lifetime to travel to all the places that I would like to, but what I set out to do is continue travelling in this, conscious way. If there is something that has personally enriched me, broadened my worldview, allowed me to see the world through the eyes of other people, and given me direction, it is precisely trips like this and the cycling trip across the Bulgaria few months ago. It is experiences like this that are truly worth it and that have left a lasting footprint in my life.
What’s next for Insaiders from here on?
– Multiple articles: in the course of such an intensive journey, at a certain point I was unable to cope with producing the written content that I wanted to, so I focused more on experiencing it first and writing later. Therefore, I have yet to share my impressions for the period from the middle of the 4th week to the end of this 10 week journey.
– Experiences in the web platform: After hundreds of meetings with Insiders from across the country, the experiences they offer will be soon added to the platform. The ultimate purpose is to allow anyone wishing to get to know these hidden gems to be able to do it in a quick and easy manner.
– New initiatives and activities that will continue to bring authentic and alternative places and the people behind them to travellers willing to truly get to know our beautiful country.
The best is yet to come…