Page 3 of RedPlanetClaire Travel Blog Posts

The original plan today was to go on a narrow gauge railway, but upon further investigation I realised it was a 10 hour round trip and much of it goes through scenery we have already driven through. Plan B was a half hour drive to Sapareva Banyans, where a bunch of women were blocking the road rollerskiing and making it look like hard work. From there we drove up to the Rila Mountains towards Seven Lakes, which are glacial lakes situated between 2,100 and 2,500 metres above sea level. Glyn had though that as we were hiking to lakes, that it would be flat, ha ha, he was wrong! On the way up, Glyn stopped so we could do a Pokémon raid in a woodland walk where naff fairytale character paintings were nailed to trees. They ... read more
roadside well.
Turkish woman in the forest, apparently .
the chair lift up to the hike start point

Europe » Bulgaria » Blagoevgrad Province » Belitsa June 21st 2018

The cruel practice of forcing bears to dance for entertainment was banned in Bulgaria in 1998 and now the rescued bears need somewhere to live. Thus the badly named 'Dancing Bear Park' started in Belitsa. The bears no longer have to dance, but instead have huge enclosures in thick forest where they can please themselves. They can't go back in the wild because they don't know how to look after themselves and would not get on with the 450-600 wild bears still living in the national parks. Because of the mountains, everywhere is a long drive away, so we decided to make it more of a 'photographic, leisurely drive', like a Sunday afternoon drive only on a Thursday morning. The majority of the journey was thick forests of fir trees or snowy mountains in the distance. ... read more
tank at Raduil
Rescue bear park at Belitsa.
Rescued bear at Belitsa.

Mountains generally have a variety of routes up that are labelled for the competency of the climbers. In the Rila Mountains, Glyn and I needed the incompetent route but ended up on the complete and utter numpty path. There's no mountain rescue in the Rila Mountains that I could see. Not even a map or sign telling you how far it is to the top (yes I know we could google it but where's the fun in that?) The weather forecast for today in Borovets was sunny, so Glyn and I decided to take the gondola up to Yastrebets and then take a hike to Mount Musala. Nothing like the gondolas in Venice, these cable cars are for carting skiers and snowboarders up to ski slopes. At 12 lev each return (£6), it wasn't much to ... read more
Cable cars up to Yastrebets
the journey begins to Mount Musala.
Redundant ski lifts on the way to Mount Musala

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia June 19th 2018

My hubby could have been a Palace Guard in Bulgaria once upon a time. Out of a whole group of tourists from UK, Canada, USA, Chile, South Korea, Russia, Australia and Spain, he was the only one who fitted the criteria to get this once well paid and illustrious job. All he had to do was catch an eagle and pluck a tail feather to wear in his hat and the job would have been his. What is this illusive criteria you ask? You just have to be blonde, blue-eyed and over 185 cms in height. However these days those rules are relaxed as there's not many blue-eyed blonde tall Bulgarians to choose from. Plus there's an eagle at the local zoo that supplies the feathers and the job is less prestigious with less pay. We ... read more
Street art on concrete flats, Sophia
Rotunda of Sveti Georgi surrounded by communist buildings
Ex Royal Palace with yellow brick not fit for purpose riad

As the crow flies, Rila Monastery is really close to us in Borovets. However, those who know me can verify that I'm no crow and so Glyn had to drive us around the mountains, taking around 1.5 hours to get there, but it seemed a lot longer. The sky was dark with storm clouds, but it was very warm. The last bit of road up the mountain was twisty as always, with a huge landslide covering half the road at one bend, that wasn't worrying to see, no not at all! I struggled to stay awake as did Glyn, but we got to the Monastery safely and soon woke up. There were a few tourist coaches, a car park attendant who charged us 5 levs and the obligatory stray dog. Rila Monastery is buried deep in ... read more
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Rila mountains.
Cat at Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia Province » Borovets June 17th 2018

Today I have become an Urban Explorer in the mountains! This is easily done in Bulgaria due to the declining population, the fall of communism and the failure of capitalism, resulting in an extremely high amount of derelict dwellings, factories and public buildings. Glyn and I had driven near to Mount Musala looking for moody, misty mountains (which we found) but ended up exploring what we think were derelict hotels, literally in the middle of nowhere. We arrived in Borovets in the small hours of the night, having driven from Sofia, and after much confusion mixed with stroppy night receptionists, we eventually dragged our luggage past the only rowdy bar in the area and found our apartment. To Glyn's utmost horror, there was no bogroll and he was getting anxious about his morning poo. So he ... read more
Bobby’s Bar, Borovets

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 19th 2018

Tromsø has certainly been more than all I hoped for. And I had hoped for a lot. I'd hoped to see the Northern Lights, but I never expected to get them three nights in a row. Or to get a show so spectacular that even a local photographer whose family have lived in Tromsø for generations was in awe! I don't think I can ever beat that and so, I've bought the t-shirt - the most expensive t-shirt I have ever bought. Lots of snow as expected. But far more beautiful than I anticipated, as the snowy landscapes were crowned with saturated blue skies to the extent that when people see the photos, they may think photoshop had been used to enhance it. Plus golden and pink sunsets glowing over the snow. If you did nothing ... read more
Wenger, the Norwegian Forest Cat

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 18th 2018

Getting up at 6.45am is no joke when you didn't get to bed until 3am after a long day of two trips. However, we don't have much time in Norway and none of it is to be wasted, so we soon set off on the walk into town for our pre-booked snowmobile trip. Shattered, we arrived at the Radison Blu to be told it was double booked and there was no room for us, maybe come back later. I was not happy, this was a very expensive trip already paid for with extra travel insurance required. The receptionist guy was completely unapologetic and it took a lot of reasoning with him to confirm whether or not we would be on the later trip - we could always plan something else instead and almost decided to do ... read more
walking through Tromsø
South peninsula of Tromsø
South peninsula of Tromsø

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 17th 2018

In North Norway it is acceptable for the locals to refer to the police as 'you f***ing horse d!ck' when speaking directly to anyone in the force. However, in the South this is frowned upon and will get you arrested and slapped with a fine. Unless you are visiting from the North, as it is generally accepted that the Northerners are rougher around the edges due to harsh living and so 'you f***ing horse d!ck' is known to be a friendly salutation. Apparently this has been highlighted in the press recently when a northerner visiting Oslo required help from local police due to car trouble. I'm not sure if it's OK for tourists to use this term, and so when we drove past the police station, I did not stick my head out of the window ... read more
Northern Lights bear Tromvik, Troms

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 16th 2018

I've finally seen the Northern Lights! Right on the doorstep of my accommodation too, impressive but they did keep me up bloody late! The trip to Tromsø was via Oslo and the airport must be the most expensive airport I've ever passed through. It's around 10 Norwegian Krona to the pound, so working out that the advertised fish and chips cost over £16 was quick. A smoothie bowl was almost £13 and the prices on the ski gear and jewellery were out of this world! I didn't do any shopping whilst we waited for our transfer to Tromsø. As you would expect, it's a fairly large airport - with staff zooming around on scooters, some pushing carts on the scooters, I wasn't expecting that. Weaving in and out of the tight throngs of people, it was ... read more
Northern Lights over Tromsø
Very faint Northern Lights over Tromsø
in our air b'n'b

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