Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday in the mountains

Today, I went to Mt. Vitosha with Ernie and Barb. Having no transportation of our own and, for the moment, a limited understanding of the intricacies of some of the bus lines, we cabbed it up to a little village called Dragalevtsi (about $4.50--beat that NYC!), where we caught a gondola towards the top.... Big fun.

The mountains outside of Sofia are beloved by city dwellers and visitors alike. While we were clambering around up there today, we saw people of all ages, attired and enjoying the scenery in all manner of ways--some dressed as if they had just come from church, some in serious hiking apparel; some smoking cigarettes on the walk up; a man in a Speedo...

Vitosha has several peaks; the highest is Cherni Vrah. There are various hiking trails all over the mountain, and there's supposed to be good skiing in the winter. After one excursion, I can imagine making this a regular part of the weekly repertoire, as the Sofians seem to do (the car park leading to the trails was packed by the time we left). It's a nice aspect of the culture of Sofia, too, that people so deeply enjoy "the nature," as it's referred to; from the bikini-clad sun bathers to the berry- and herb-picking ladies, everyone seems to have a particular relationship with this oasis of incredible views and the unquestionably superior air. 

Here are a few photos; they won't do justice to the flora or the vistas, but they may provide some orientation to the area.

Mountain bikers take their bikes up on the gondola and then bomb down the bike paths

Self-portrait, gondola ride up the mountain

There's Ernie and Barb in the chair ahead of me

A view to the east on the ride up

These are the lift chairs

Some of the flowers we saw on the way up

Another cool flower at the top of the gondola

Cherni Vrah is the peak shrouded in clouds

There's a flat-ish plain at the top of the gondola, surrounded by small peaks and rock outcroppings. From here you would keep walking up to Cherni Vrah, which would take about 1 1/2 hrs.

More of the mountain flora

This one was very velvety, like Lamb's Ear

More mountain flowers

Ernie and Barb, heading down the mountain

The view of Sofia on the ride down. The dark green space is a large park in the southern part of the city.

Another angle on Sofia

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