Visiting an abandoned village in the Rhodopes

Visiting an abandoned village in the Rhodopes

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Rhodopean Explorer – Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Yesterday we started the day photographing the sunrise and later added a lovely cascading river, one of the hidden gems of Bulgaria, to the itinerary to return home late at night. Today comes with another early start and the visit of an almost wholly abandoned village in the Rhodopes before we head out for our evening adventure.

Sunrise over the abandoned village

Another crazy early morning, we are getting up at 4 a.m., skipping breakfast again to save time. Who would have been hungry for breakfast yet anyway? This morning Evo takes me to an almost entirely abandoned village in the Rhodope Mountains. At its peak time, 60 people of Turkish origin lived here, planting tobacco and farming for a living. Today less than 30 remain. The others moved to the towns of Bulgaria or even abroad.

Two larger houses that haven’t completely turned into ruins yet, capturing my eye and imagination. Have they once been used as offices? It looks like they might have done some scientific work there once upon a time.

But before I can investigate further, Evo calls me over to the best spot in the area to watch the sunrise. Once again, there is a little bit of fog lingering between the mountains.

Fading light, but still more to see

As the sun rises too high to capture more color in the sky, I start exploring the area on my own. That ruin further down the field with the fallen roof and the tree inside act like a magnet. I have to get closer.

The rocks behind it are intriguing too. However, I cannot spot a path that would get me on top of them. More photo spots are where I am, so missing out on one won’t matter too much. If I haven’t mentioned this before: Bulgaria is definitively a beautiful country.

Only too soon – have we been here for four hours already – it is time to return home for breakfast. Nuts and granola bars will only help you so much when you are out this early in the morning.

Preparations for another adventure

We spend the remaining morning relaxing and resting before heading to town for a tasty lunch and some groceries. This time Evo won’t catch me off guard again. This time I am taking my photo equipment with me. However, we end up going down to town only, so there are no photographs to make.

Returning home, Evo starts preparing our picnic for tonight’s dinner, while I spend some time at the computer. As always, it feels as if I only blinked twice before it is time to get moving again.

Hiking for sunset in a protected area

Tonight we are hiking for about two hours into the mountains, from where we shall enjoy the sunset. The hike itself is not demanding, except that it is going uphill through some forest.

However, when we arrive at the top, I soon learn that the best spots for some sunset shots are right at the abyss. One wrong step and I will try out involuntarily flying. Not to mention, you don’t reach these by a walk in the park. I have to climb at least a little bit to get where I want to. Did I mention my fear of heights last year? Thankfully, that seems under control now, or I would have refused to go anywhere close to the abyss. Of course, if I would not go there, I would not take these photos now.

Newfound bravery gets rewarded with some beautiful photographs.

It is plain amazing up here, though the thought to climb back only to get my other lens and then return sounds a little nuts. Well, I suppose that is why I go anyway.

Once the colors in the sky start fading, Evo takes me to another spot, just so that I can see where I just have been standing.

Good that I only get to know now where I have been standing and how deep it is going down from there. Not that I was completely clueless or ignorant, but it is a lot easier this way 🙂

Picnic and returning home

We have to get back to our backpacks before it gets too dark to see anything. It is finally time to enjoy our dinner picnic. Never before have Sandwiches tasted so good. OK, rolls with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and a big piece of tasty Bulgarian cucumber. Delicious.

It is time to start the two-hour hike back to the car. We both pull out our head torches, but it is evident that mine is overpowering everything. It is acting as an artificial sun – and a bug magnet. Next time I will have to bring my sunglasses with me if I want to use it again.

As always, we are chatting along, about everything and anything. It turns out we read the same books when we were younger too. So it is not only the love for Tolkien’s legendarium that we share.

Tomorrow we will start the second part of our adventure, a true road trip through the Rhodope Mountains.

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