HIBAFWT

Bulgarian Art Fusion - Workshops &Travel

Route: Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Rila Monastery, Bansko, Kovachevitsa, Leshten ,the Devil’s Throat cave, Shiroka Laka, the Bachkovo Monastery, Plovdiv, Koprivshtitsa, Sofia
11 days / 10 nights
Transport: Coach
Price from: T/A

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Sofia!

Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival, escort you to the hotel and assist you with the check in. The rest of the day will be dedicated to the Bulgarian capital Sofia! Our guided sightseeing tour will take you to the imposing St.Alexander Nevski cathedral - the seat of the Patriarchy of Bulgaria, the St. Sofia church after which the city was named back in the 14th century, the ancient ruins of the Roman fortress “Serdika”, the Martyr Saint George Rotunda, the National Theatre, the old Bath House, The Covered Market built in the beginning of the 20th century, the Banya Bashi Mosque - a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria that lasted nearly five centuries. In the late afternoon we will have a cup of aromatic coffee and discuss the activities and visits during the trip. In the evening we will be welcomed in a folklore-style restaurant to have a traditional welcome dinner and try some delicious Bulgarian dishes.
Overnight in Sofia. (D)

Day 2: The Martenitsa – get in touch with the ancient Bulgarian tradition
We will start the day with a visit of the Ethnographical Museum in Sofia, where you get your first impressions of the traditional local crafts and folklore. Our next stop will be the National History museum which provides exhaustive and intriguing information about the Bulgarian people and their land since the foundation of the Bulgarian state back in 681 AD. Here we will be introduced to one of the most interesting Bulgarian (pagan) traditions, unique to Bulgaria - The custom of wearing “Martenitsa”. On the 1st of March the Bulgarian people celebrate a traditional holiday called Baba Marta (or Grandma Marta in English) and it is related to welcoming the approaching spring. On that day, we exchange, so called "Martenitsi” and tell each other, "Chestita Baba Marta!" (Happy Grandma Marta!). This custom is essentially to wish great health, good luck, and happiness to family and friends. The name "Martenitsa" is taken from the Bulgarian word for March. By wearing the red and white colors of the Martenitsa our predecessors asked Baba Marta for mercy.They hoped that it will make winter pass faster and bring spring. When someone gives you a Martenitsa you should wear it either pinned on your clothes, on the hand tied around the wrist, or around your neck until you see a stork, or a fruit tree in blossom for the first time in the season. After that you can tie it on a blossoming tree for fertility. It is believed that the Martenitsa bring health, happiness and longevity. During the whole month of March everybody has one on the collar of their jacket or on their wrist. The Martenitsa making follows centuries-old rules. Today you will have the chance to create a Martenitsa with your own hands. What can be a better souvenir to take home from Bulgaria than a Martenitsa you created on your own? Later we will drive back to the hotel to enjoy some leisure time.
Overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)

Day 3: The Rila Monastery & Blagoevgrad
The highlight this morning will be the Rila Monastery - a true architectural masterpiece of its time, fascinating with its distinguished works of art and hidden in the heart of the majestic Rila Mountain. After visiting the Monastery museum and beautifully decorated church we can take a walk in the romantic surroundings around the monastery to the last resting place of the founder of the monastery St.Ivan Rilski. For lunch today , we will try some local mountain specialties in a family-owned tavern nearby. Then we will tavel to the town of Blagoevgard nested at the foot of the Rila Mountain.
Overnight in Blagoevgrad. (B, L, D)

Day 4: The Bulgarian folklore music, trills and dances
The Bulgarian people posses an enormous wealth of folklore styles. Although relatively small in territory Bulgaria’s diversity in terms of folklore music and dances is outstanding! Each region has its own distinguishing rhythm variations, costumes and traditions. For example, the threnodies typical for Central Bulgaria contrast with the love songs and melodies from the North-eastern part of the country. The same goes with the dances. Whether a traditional `horo`(where the dancers usually  hold hands and perform synchronized dance patterns) or a type of a ritual dance – they all vary in rhythm and emotional charge; the calm slow folklore dances from the region of Dobrudzha in North-eastern Bulgaria oppose the nippy, jerky moves of the `Shopska rachenitsa` dance performed in the Sofia region ( North-western Bulgaria).
The Blagoevgrad folklore region is renowned for the distinguishing singing technique used here also known as “singing in two voices”.  The music from Blagoevgrad and the South-western Bulgaria region is characterized by unusual harmonies and odd rhythms. The favored instruments are gaida (bagpipe), tupan (large double-headed drum), tambura (lute) and zurna. The zurna, originally from the Middle East, came to the Balkans via the Ottoman Turks. The musicians from the region loved it and incorporated it into their folk music. It has a double reed like an oboe and it's loud enough to wake the dead!
Today we will take part in a workshop, which will reveal to us the diversity and richness of the local folklore music, dances and songs. We will learn how to sing, dance and perform “horo” like locals and get one step closer to understanding the Bulgarian culture.
In the evening a special show will be organized for us during which we will be able to demonstrate the dances and songs that we learned today.
Overnight in Blagoevgrad. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Bansko & the Pirin Mountain
Today we will travel to the charming town of Bansko at the foot of the spectacular Pirin Mountain. We will take some time to stroll down the curving cobbled streets of the preserved Old quarter of town and peek at the craft workshops and little art galleries. Next we will hike and explore The Pirin National Park included in the UNESCO World Heritage List for its hear-capturing beauty - crystal-clear ponds, lush green forests, diverse fauna and flora species, gorgeous panoramic views. We will relax and unwind under the shadow of the oldest tree in Bulgaria, the 1300 years- old “Baykusheva Mura”. Then we will return to Bansko where for lunch we will try some delicious home-made specialties at a local family’s home.Tonight we will be welcomed at one of the best taverns in town for traditional dinner. A special folklore program featuring songs and dances from the region will be performed for us while we wash down the mouth-watering charcoal-cooked meal with fine local red wines and spirits!
Overnight in Bansko. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Cook the Bulgarian way!
The Bulgarian people appreciate good food and know how to prepare it. The Bulgarian cuisine is extremely diverse and cannot be pinned down to one or two dishes. It is more of a culinary fusion with strong Greek, Turkish and Romanian influences. Moreover, every Bulgarian region has its own typical dishes and recipes passed from generation to generation. The secret of its tastefulness however lies in the fact that traditionally high quality vegetables and fruit produced in ecologically clean areas are used. Today “we will drink from the spring itself” as the locals like to say, and we will learn how to prepare some dishes typical for the Bansko region. For dinner we will enjoy the meals we have prepared and have the chance to discuss the subtleties and techniques behind the Bulgarian culinary mastership with some local experts.
Overnight in Bansko. (B, L, D)

Day 7: The beauty of the Rhodope Mountains: the lands of Orpheus
Today we will discover two of the most tranquil and remote Bulgarian villages in the heart of the mystic Rhodope Mountain, which according to the legends is the birthplace of the legendary Orpheus, a musician, poet, and prophet in the ancient Greek religion. We will take some time to stroll down the cobbled streets of the villages of Leshten and Kovachevitsa to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the rolling green mountain peaks and dramatic lush valleys. Here the time seems to have stopped centuries ago when the people used to live in simple wood-and-stone facade houses and grow vegetables in their gardens. The serenity of the place along with the unspoiled natural beauty and the welcoming smiles of the few locals represent the very heart of the Bulgarian spirit and nature. Next we will drive through the Trigrad Gorge, one of the most spectacular rock phenomena in Bulgaria to reach and reach the Devil’s Throat cave. The name of the cave comes from the belief that you can see the face of the Devil himself reflected in one of the stone walls of the spacious gallery inside. After visiting this mysterious place, we will enjoy a picnic in the open and travel to the town of Shiroka Laka where we will spend the night.
Overnight in Shiroka Laka. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Singing and dancing classes in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains
We will start the day with a healthy, homemade breakfast after which we will pay a visit to the Folkore School of Shiroka Laka. We will dedicate our day to the Bulgarian music and dances. We will have the opportunity to learn from the talented students how to sing folklore songs and play traditional musical instruments.
Overnight in Shiroka Laka. (B, L, D)

Day 9: The Bachkovo Monastery & the Old Town of Plovdiv
Our day starts with a scenic trip to the Batchkovo Monastery - the second in size and importance monastery in Bulgaria founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and impressive with its picturesque location in the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountain and its extensive icon collections. In the afternoon we will explore the nearby city of Plovdiv. We will go for a stroll in the Old Quarter of Plovdiv famous for its spectacular Roman Theatre, the multitude of tiny art galleries and the authentic cobbled streets lined with Revival period houses.
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)

Day 10: Painting in Koprivshtitsa
Today we will travel through the Bulgarian Rose Valley sheltered by the mighty Balkan Mountain chain. We will drive passed the little towns of Karlovo, Kalofer and Sopot which used to be important cultural centers during the Bulgarian Enlightenment period.Our highlight today is the town of Koprivshtitsa situated in Sredna Gora Mountain. This is one of the most beautiful museum-towns in Bulgaria impressive with its revival architecture and authentic atmosphere. Here we will take our time for some painting and  Koprivshtitsa will be our “muse”.
Overnight in Koprivshtitsa. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Trip finishes in Sofia
We will enjoy a morning at leisure to explore the city on our own, after which we will travel to the foot of the Vitosha mountain where we will have a delicious lunch at  atraditional restaurant. Then it will be time for us to say   “Goodbye” with the promise to keep the beautiful memories we created together. (B, L)

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • Explore Bulgaria’s unspoiled mountainous villages in the heart of the Rhodope Mountain!
  • Learn how to dance and sing like a Bulgarian with the students from the Shiroka Laka Folklore School!
  • Prepare a traditional dish of your choice with the women from Bansko!
  • Create your own colourful “Martenitsa” and take it home for good luck!
  • Be inspired by Bulgaria’s stunning nature and revival architecture to create your painting masterpiece in the idyllic museum- town of Koprivshtitsa!
  • Get to know the Bulgarian capital Sofia - a blend of ancient historical heritage and modern-day landmarks
  • Visit the Rila Monastery and the Bahckovo Monastry – two of the most important Orthodox sanctuaries within the territory!
  • Take a stroll in the charming Old Quarter of the city of Plovdiv with its spectacular Roman!

Route

Photos


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What Is Included

  • 11 days / 10 overnights
  • 10 breakfasts (B), 10 Lunches (L), 10 dinners (D)
  • 5 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • 5 nights 3 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
  • Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
  • Group Size: T/A
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
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