Rila Monastery, Bulgaria – 26/7/2010

Jay walking around the completely empty and silent Monastery

Jay walking around the completely empty and silent Monastery

We woke up in Velingrad and the weather was still shitty. Our plan to use thermal baths and spas didn’t really work out because we felt too cold and lazy to even walk around to find one. For some reason our sim card didn’t work so we couldn’t use the Internet and we desperately wanted to waste our time on Facebook.

Jay then had a genius idea: he drove around the town veeery slooowly while I sat in the back with my button, constantly looking for an open wireless connection.

Rila Monastery - detail

Rila Monastery - detail

After about 20 minutes of driving around, we found a full-strength, unprotected connection. We parked right there in front of someone’s house and happily sat in the back of the van with our coffees and full speed Internet. At some point, we heard some rattle around our van and looked through the window to find people putting clamp on our wheel! It turned out we were parked illegally or didn’t pay for our parking or something similar, but giving the guy some cash made him forget about the mistake we made and he allowed us to stay there for as long as we want.

After lunch in the same restaurant where we had dinner the previous night, we left Velingrad and started driving towards Rila Monastery. Ever since I read about it, I wanted to visit it. It looked amazing in the photos and the fact that was almost hidden up in the mountains, made it sound somehow mysterious and secret.

Entrance to the Rila monastery at 7 p.m.

Entrance to the Rila monastery at 7 p.m.

My online research told me that the monastery is believed to have been founded by a hermit, John of Rila, in the 10th century. He in fact lived in a cave about half-an-hour walk away from the present-day monastery complex and the monastery itself has been built by his scholars, who came to the place to be taught by him.

The drive from Velingrad lasted about three and a half hours and by the time we arrived at the Monastery, it was already 7 p.m. There was almost no one there and it was incredibly beautiful. We walked around the complex feeling very special for having a chance to be completely alone in what is usually a very popular tourist destination. We slept peacefully in the parking lot in front of it, with complete silence around us. A wonderful experience.

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