I left Vidin with a good feeling. A long though doable day was planned. I followed the main road towards Sofia but wanted to take a shortcut over a less used road. It took me only 20km to get lost. It wasn't difficult to navigate but I just loved the perfect tarmac of that road so much that I didn't check the map for a turnoff.
I was swearing and cursing while I was riding the bad road back to my planed route till I ended up in a small village. It was a very poor locking village and the road on the other side of it was nothing more than a dirt path. A shepherd stood there and looked at me as if I were an alien - who I actually was. I continued the dirt path and started to enjoy myself again. It was refreshing to realize that while this mistake cost me an additional hour of riding it gave me a totally different perspective of the countryside.
In the evening I ended up in Berkovista a small town surrounded by mountains. Tired and hungry I went for a small traditional looking restaurant and ordered the third from the top of the daily menu. I took a picture of the word and translated it after ordering.
Brain. Hmmm... Can't remember when I ate this the last time... It turned out to be really tasty. Served on a mushroom bed, the fried brain was sliced neatly. As sides I got peas and mashed potatoes. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a push to try out some unknown food.
The next morning I felt weak and sick. I think I got a cold. I cycled on nonetheless. The whole morning was just uphill until I reached the summit. The downhill drive was amazing but probably didn't improve my cold. I was so thrilled by the fact that it is only downhills from here on I ended up shivering and freezing. Somehow I made it to Sofia where I went to the Hostel Mostel.
Sofia is an interesting place. The density of different sacral buildings is amazing. That a Russian Orthodox Church, a Bulgarian Orthodox Church, a Catholic Church, a Protestant Church, a Synagogue and a Mosque could coexist more or less peacefully over so many centuries in such a small area gave me new hope in humanity.
I enjoyed Sofia for two days to recover. On the first day I did some cultural things, met friendly people and relished a beautiful sunset from a viewpoint. I also enjoyed some excellent local food from probably the best kitchen I had on the trip so far. You start to taste the influence from Greece and Turkey.
Sofia is really a place of churches. If you know me you should be aware that I'm not very fond of churches at all. But these buildings are really worth a visit. This is why I even decided to go on a day trip to the Rila Monastery.
About a two hours drive by car from Sofia away deep in the mountains of Bulgaria lies this very good looking and active Orthodox Monastery. It is definitely worth a visit even though it is a quite touristy spot.
I'm going to remember Sofia for all the newly found friends here. It was an amazing time! So now I just need to get well again... Some hard days of cycling lie ahead of me.