The destination for this week’s get-together was a bit of a stray from their usual outing, but was well worth the trip (unfortunately, I only have a few photos taken with my phone, as Ellis had the camera…).
We started out visiting a Monastery at Balsa, a short distance north of Sofia. We drove through a small village, and then parked in the fields at the edge of the village, and hiked up to the monastery.
The walk took about ½ hour, but most of it was very much uphill (and I told Ellis that I didn’t want to come with him, since it was too much hiking!). The monastery itself is not lived in, and there’s a small chapel with very pretty paintings inside.
After we returned to our cars, we drove a couple kilometers to the small village of Dobrovlasci, in order to watch a celebration of local dance groups performing traditional Bulgarian folk dances. Each of the surrounding villages sent their local troupes, often in traditional costumes.
Before the dancing started, women came out with the traditional Pogacha bread, and we all broke off pieces of these beautiful loaves and dipped them in salt.
The organizer of our outing also arranged for a traditional meal for us as we watched the dancing – there was Banitsa, with cheese and egg, Kebacha (small pork patties, but they kindly made me a chicken fillet!), Shopska salad and a beautiful, home-made marble cake. And – plenty of beer!
The program started, and each of the troupes got up and did a couple dances – the dances themselves are very similar to Israeli folkdances – and interestingly enough, they’re called “Horo” – while the most famous Israeli folkdance is the “Hora”.
The dancing continued for hours, and the organizers had even asked us to perform a small dance for them – they were very excited to have so many international visitors at their local celebration. We practiced an easy Scottish line dance, and were getting ready for our turn, when the huge black cloud that had been getting closer and closer to the village, finally arrived with gusts of wind and a huge downpour – and, so, the afternoon ended and our dancing debut never happened (or, as most of us said – Saved by the rain!).