Superlative Galore

Traveling in the past few days I keep finding myself using superlatives–best meal, prettiest vista, most delicious wine…In other words, so far everything is great.  We ate at an upscale Armenian restaurant our last night in Sofia and it was, well, one of the best meals I’ve ever had.  Of special note was the Bulgarian Cabernet (only sold by the bottle, no glasses) and the yogurt dish.  Oh, the Bulgarian yogurt!  To die for.  This particular dish was strained yogurt topped with green onions and walnuts with a honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil dressing. I know you’ve never thought of yogurt in this context, but let me assure you, it was spectacular.  In fact yogurt is everywhere here and always spectacular.  It’s much thicker and sourer than American yogurt and is usually eaten plain.  We’ve had cow yogurt, sheep yogurt, and buffalo yogurt! 

 Moving on from Sofia, but not from yogurt, we took a bus into the Rila mountains.  The scenery as we entered the mountains was beautiful.  After a totally positive experience in Sofia, I was surprised by how great it felt to leave.  Sofia, like any car centric European city, is pretty crowded, smoggy and smoky.  But out in the country it was all fields and mountain vistas.  People work in their fields pulling weeds by hand, travel around in carts pulled by donkeys, and live in houses with vine covered trellises.  The balanced life struck me as well: everyone seemed to use just what they needed.  The fields were in plots just big enough for a family and the rest of the land was left wild.  Donkeys and horses were kept only as they were necessary for farming, transportation, etc.  There were no ranches, plantations, hoarding, or excessive houses.  And it’s not because the people were poor–the houses were modestly sized, well kept, and with gardens.  I really wanted to get out and explore the fields, take photos of the donkeys, and get a better feel for the neighborhoods, but not knowing when the next bus would happen along we stayed aboard.

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