Once we parked and paid, of course they earn money on parking, we headed off towards the massive entrance of the monastery. Once we got closer I noticed some big signs posted at the entrance which after the first glance was identified as rules for visiting the compound. Reading through I noticed one rule saying that short shorts wasnt allowed, what is short shorts? Speedos? So instead of having the trouble of being confronted with walking in as I was wearing shorts I decided to head back to the car and change into my jeans.
As I was performing the local strip show at the trunk of the car the guy who had sold me the parking ticket noticed me, and as we gained eye contact I just shrugg and he nodded confirming, without mentioning words we had spoken a whole conversation and agreed on the outcome of it. And as I walked into the monastery I couldn’t believe my eyes of what I was about to see.
I’ve been in many monasteries before it is not that, it is that I have never been in a monastery where they have depicted everything so outdamn right in paintings on the walls. It was beautiful, not to say the least, to see all these paintings showing all aspects of the bible. Not just the regular paintings of Jesus and Mary and the rest of the “holy” paintings but here they also had the devils, the demons, paintings showing how people were tormented in hell, all of those paintings you hardly ever see in any church or monastery. The paintings that are in a way forbidden. I have never probably photographed so much in a monastery as I did in Rila. After spending some reliable time in the monastery we started debating on where to go next and in the end after a whole lot of discussions and weighing options we decided to drive back to the village Rila and have lunch, which we did.
This must be the most useless place in Bulgaria that I have seen. More or less a small abandoned town as most of the houses were empty and a few off them even had boarded up windows. Felt like driving in to a ghost town as we could not see any living person, not even a cat, and a poster saying “Buy your new home in Stob” Felt more like an episode out of a zombie apocalypse movie minus the blood and guts. The reason we ended up in Stob was because of a sign along the road saying “Stob Pyramids” however this sign was only seen on the way from the motorway towards Rila but not on the way from Rila to the motorway.
Find our way up to what should be pyramids, I slowly had it explained to me that it is not pyramids, it is sand rocks. Why they call it a pyramid is still a mystery to me. Parked the car under the two trees standing by the entrance to try to get some shadow so the car wouldn’t be a sauna when we got back. The woman in the little entrance boot in the middle of nowhere sold us the tickets to enter and told us it is about a 3km walk that would take maybe 45min. What she forgot to mention is that the last 1½km was being a steep uphill. Here we go. I walked and climbed and walked and stumbled and in the sun the sweat was just pouring off me, making my eyes hurt as the little droplets managed to roll int my eyes. When I finally managed to get up I was a little disappointed as it was just sand rocks. Then again, what did I expect?
After catching my breath for a while and taking a few pictures I started the decent which went much faster while trying to get rid of all the flies that suddenly found me very interesting. I felt like shit and I guess that is why they were attracted to me at that moment. The clouds started to gather up and a rumble in the distance made me aware that maybe the weather that we had passed through on the way to Rila was on its way to us again. After stopping in the town center, a large square with a Soviet memorial statue in the middle, I found the local shop and bought some water to drink before heading off on the road back to Sofia.
It was the last day in Bulgaria, Day 13, and the last we would see of the country before heading back home to Czech Republic