|The famous Bulgarian roses!|
But back to Bansko, I really enjoyed the conference, only actually took one course the last week (Bulgarian Culture, Art and Music) and had a great time. The second weekend we were there everyone went on a daytrip to Blagoevgrad, a nearby town where the American University is, and a smaller village to hear some traditional folk music and participate in a mock-wedding ceremony. That part was really hilarious because our two volunteers had to dress up in folk costumes, dance around with the singing babas (literally: old grannies) and drink homemade rakiya.
The next day our group took a bus into the Pirin Mountains just behind the town of Bansko and hiked to a few glacial lakes nearby. And while the program described a 'walk' to one of these lakes, whichever path our group ended up taking was definitely not the easiest hike. But it was well worth it and the views were amazing. Going up there definitely made me want to try skiing and I imagine it would be relatively inexpensive to try it here. Two of the girls (also ETAs) and I decided to take a mini-vacation to the Black Sea resort town of Sozopol following the conference, and that's where we arrived this morning after taking a night bus from Sofia. We didn't realize that the night bus would only take 6 hours, however, so we ended up waiting near our hotel for a couple of hours before it opened at 8AM. But Sozopol is absolutely stunning, with cliffs and sandy beaches on either side of the peninsula and an extremely walkable and enjoyable old town center. We walked around a fair amount today and plan on staying here for two more nights. Then I'm headed back to Sofia to spend the weekend with Ellen (who is teaching English at a high school there) and off to Pleven on Sunday!