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Bulgaria

BY Lisa Lindblad

October 5, 2011

I have recently returned from an intriguing long weekend in Bulgaria, a country with diverse landscapes, deep history, magnificent treasures, and a challenging future to grapple with.  Just a short 2.5 hour flight from London, the purpose of the weekend hop was to visit a lovely house, Villa Gella http://www.villagella.com/, located in the alpine scenery of southern Bulgaria’s Rhodope mountains.  There will be more on the house itself, but the context for the house is important to describe.

A country of 7 million people, 2.5 of whom live in the urban areas, this is a country of mountains and fertile plains, gorgeous painted Christian Orthodox monasteries, iconic domestic architecture, and a cache of Thracian gold treasure that astounds.  Its capital, Sofia, is rich with parks and buildings reminiscent of Paris or Buenos Aires.

The countryside is beautiful and pristine.  Two-lane mountain roads wind and climb through majestic alpine landscapes of dense pine forests with high aqua blue lakes, deep-cut gorges and trout-filled streams.  Bulgaria is gorgeous in all seasons, for meandering in wildflower meadows, skiing on blanketed pistes, hiking through blazing Autumn colors.  Add to the natural beauty once in a lifetime experiences of age-old festivals – ‘martenitsas’ in the spring when Bulgarians gift each other small figures made of red and white thread to herald spring, the play-off of scores of bagpipes on a ridge in the Rhodope mountains, the rose festival at the foot of the Balkan range.

A little visited country with reasonable price, rich treasure, delicious food and exquisite wines, Bulgaria offers an experience that is at once ancient in feel yet contemporarily pleasing.

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There is a magic to this valley, they say, with its flowered meadows

and aspen groves cut by the Roaring Fork.

And those sublime snowcapped peaks that dominate it all.

There is a kinship here, nurtured in the mountain’s fold,

as well as a fierce commitment to protect what is so dearly loved.

Photo:  Forest Woodward

Location:  Aspen, CO

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Meditations #75