Living Monkish

Our destination in the mountains was Rila Monastery.  The outside looks like a fortress, but inside it is beautiful.  There is an open courtyard with incredible views of the surrounding mountains: snow-capped peaks at a distance and green rolling hills all around.  The view wasn’t so different from New Hampshire, but from the vantage of a monastery it was incomparable.  We spent the afternoon hiking in the moutains and admiring the frescoes on the church walls.  We decided to stay at the monastery that night, which was an interesting experience.  One I’m glad I did and glad I’m not doing again tonight.  The rooms were stark and cold.  The toilette was on the other side of the courtyard and was merely a hole in the ground.  The only water was ice cold and the beds had no springs or board, but rather were just thin mattresses on sagging chainmail.  That said, I had my first full night of sleep (without the now familiar Steve-Hazel 2-3am jetlagged chat).

We awoke to bells and Monks walking the courtyard banging on wooden planks, which really did sound like nailing.   We attended a service of Monks chanting in Bulgarian, with an occasional candle lighting, and lots of Catholic cross signing and kissing (not Catholic I guess, Eastern Orthodox).  We were definitely the only non-devotees there.

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