This weekend after the Fulbright conference I went on a group trip to Melnik, also known as the "smallest town in Bulgaria." Nestled between sandstone cliffs in a lush valley in Southwestern Bulgaria, Melnik is most famous for its local wines. You can find them in any Bulgarian grocery store, but this trip was special because we visited an historic merchant's house with an ancient wine cellar underneath where we tried some of their vintages. It's definitely not a taste that everyone loves, but I really do enjoy the earthy, tart and dry Melnik red wine. It's chalky flavor comes from the tunnels where cellars have been dug out for centuries. Apparently Winston Churchill was a big fan. I brought home a big jug of homemade wine for about 6 dollars.Not bad!
Before heading to Melnik we visited the Rohjen Monastery, just a short drive away. This was my third monastery visit in Bulgaria and although they all have a similar structure and purpose, each one is unique in its own way. Rohjen is situated on top of a hill, up a winding mountain road, and the scenery from the top is gorgeous with the surrounding cliffs. It was a perfectly sunny day, enough for me to get a little sunburned but that's okay. I'll take it over the rain any day. Like Troyan, Rohjen was small compared to Rila, and seemed to be the least touristy of the three, which is a good thing. The scenery and gardens were beautiful and calming.
After a long weekend of meetings, traveling and parties, I am exhausted. Luckily I'll only be working for a little over two weeks this month! I have a couple of friends who will be traveling through Bulgaria in the coming weeks and hopefully I'll make it down to Istanbul around my birthday. The end of the school year is quickly approaching and everyone wants to make the most out of our remaining time here. It's a little sad but I'm also looking forward to going home and visiting family and friends before coming back in September. I can't believe it's almost summer!