This week I was unexpectedly delighted when I realized (thanks to Facebook) it was my four-year anniversary since retiring. Unlike the past three years I hadn’t even thought about marking the date with an introspective blog as I had done in previous years. My career days are well in the rear view mirror and I hardly ever think about that part of my life anymore. Life is full and entertaining on the Grand Adventure and I am present. Retirement rocks.
My work history may be well in the rear view mirror but ancient history is very much a part of our daily travels. I really enjoy learning the incredible geological and cultural history of every place we have traveled over the past six months. Here in Bulgaria
this ancient country has endured a great deal during its 6000 year history and learning about the many cultures that have left an imprint on this region is fascinating. History rocks.
The best part about the Grand Adventure is how we can spend so much time getting to really know each place we visit. We’ve noticed here in Bulgaria several Chinese and German tour groups. On the bus, off the bus. Follow the leader. On the bus, off the bus. Sleep. Eat. Start again. I am so grateful that our travels allow us to sit and sip a beer overlooking the amazing houses of Veliko Tarnova seemingly hanging from the cliff. I am so glad our travels allow us to spend eight hours hiking in the surrounding mountains while never encountering another human being. I am so glad our travels allow us to take a day to do nothing when it rains and just lay on the couch and read. The Grand Adventure rocks.
I’ve always had a fascination for the seemingly impossible structures produced thousands of years ago before modern tools and technology. I’ve been lucky in my life to see first hand some of the earth’s most amazing stone architecture including my two favorites – the mind-
boggling Lalabella Rock Hewn Church in Ethiopia and the Lost City of Machu Picchu. Both remain in my mind some of the most amazing things I have seen in my lifetime for sheer determination of construction and skill. Here in Bulgaria the trend continues as we have seen many beautiful medieval and renaissance ruins, all built from stone. The most incredible was the lovely Rock Hewn Monastery of Ivanovo. The caves here provided shelter to Stone Age tribes and Medieval hermits before the Monks arrived in the thirteenth century to create the rock monastery. Visitors today can witness a fairly well-preserved “church” cave with a variety of murals depicting Christ’s betrayal by
Judas. It’s fascinating to me how, prior to modern building materials stone and rock served all purposes and thankfully for us, the stone endures and we can enjoy these rock marvels even today. Stone rocks.
It’s not just the caves where we see the stone marvels but everywhere in the city of Veliko Tarnovo the stone is there; the cobblestone streets, the stone cathedrals, the stone walls, the stone houses, the stone bridges, the fortress wall, the stone castle and the craggy cliffs in the
distance. Stone is abundant and preserved and Tarnovo is a testament to the cold hard truth that lays within the substance. Rock rocks.
And so our journey continues. We have really fallen for Bulgaria and all that is hidden in this quiet and unassuming country. The food is incredible. The prices are low. The people are friendly. Very few tourists (and zero Americans). The scenery is breathtaking. Bulgaria rocks.
Four more days in Tarnovo before we head to the Black Sea and the medieval town of Sozopol where we will be for 16 days.