Leaving the beautiful city of Istanbul in Turkey my parents, Melissa, brother & sister met up with a larger group in the capital city of Sofia in Bulgaria. Al Mellinger and a youth group of too many names to mention here got rooms set up in a rented-out facility near the subway of the city. We quickly embarked on an adventure…
We headed on a bus with all of our luggage and drove three hours into Borovets, one of the highest mountain resorts in the Sofia Provence, reaching an altitude of 1350m. Borovets is the oldest Bulgarian winter ski resort with a history that dates back to 1896. We didn’t get to do any skiing while we were up there but did spend a total of 5 days exploring Hotel Rila, almost all to ourselves.
Bulgaria has some beautiful landscapes… I was particularly amazed by the waterfalls and natural springs. I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked of the Gypsies (Romas) who lived in villages throughout the carved road leading up to the highest peaks. What struck out to me most was the invisible line separating this Roma village with dark-skinned people the wealthy city with ice cream shops, Mercedes, and pretty much all light-skinned people.
The only person who made the travel with us from a Roma village was a boy named Emo, who followed us into a soccer game at an outdoor youth park. He rode his BMX bike and was always having a good time, teaching Catherine & Mitchell Galloway, Hannah, Meghan, & Jamie Shuffett, Adriel Ewert, John-David, Gant Bone, John Williams, David Manolov, and I a game you play using patterns in hand-slaps and teaching us how to count in Bulgarian. These were some of the best times, traveling on foot just walking around the city.
Bulgaria is a hidden gem and I am extremely thankful I was able to visit. I want to thank my parents and Al & Diane Mellinger for putting this event on.