28 March 2016


(village of Zagrazhden, village of Banite)

I opened my eyes and saw the light dawn through the blinds slits and the sky was in interesting colours. ‘Oh, the sunrise! Hurry up, get up! Wow I have a headache!!!’ I could barely get up. Last night the drink toasts might have been more than usual. We hadn’t overdone it but still …
We are in Zagrazhden, Banite municipality, district of Smolyan (for those who have missed part 1).
I left the house and the fresh mountain air was blowing softly! I took a deep breath and followed the path to go to the open. There was a pine tree forest on the left and the pine smell woke me up. I saw almost the entire village on the right that was starting to wake and far away the mountain curves and the pale sunrise colours.

I reached the meadow which the road was passing by. The green grass was covered by fine dew drops and under it there were some fresh Fairy ring champignons.  

I was staring at the horizon – the view was lovely.

I heard a dog barking after a while and saw a shepherd leading a flock of sheep down the road.
I looked at the whole sight around me going round at 360 degrees. It was just incredible – tranquility, peace and such a beauty. I took photos and went back. I met a woman on the path who greeted me immediately by saying, ‘Good morning! Welcome! Where are you from?’, and it was hard to answer all the questions. She told me that about 400 people lived in the village but she added sadly that young people were not there anymore and that the number of the people was decreasing. There used to be a tailoring enterprise as well as a department of a machine-making plant. I asked her where she was off to and she said she was going to buy some milk from an old woman. She wished me a nice day and we parted smiling.
Everyone was sleeping when I got back but it was breakfast time. I was still feeling dizzy but the fresh air had a good effect on me.
Some warm pancakes and raspberry jam were waiting for us, made for us as a welcome greeting. We agreed on our next visit to order one of the local specialities for lunch or dinner in advance which she would prepare and we found out sadly we had to leave on that day.
After having breakfast we were on our way to Zagrazhdenska River. Our hosts were so kind to direct us how to go on foot to the local eco path (waterfalls and wooden bridges) and a Roman bridge which I insisted on seeing. Besides, they allowed us to leave our luggage and not hurry to leave our rooms, ‘Whenever it is convenient, don’t worry! We aren’t expecting anyone today!’
We got equipped well because it was certain it would be very wet and muddy. It was cool and cloudy. We were passing by rural streets, stone houses and green meadows.



Some local people were looking at us with interest, others started talking to us. Nothing unusual, only the fact that people were so smiling and cordial. Not only did they greet us by saying ‘Good day’ and then to walk by but they also said, ‘Welcome! Where are you from? Where did you stay at? Do you like our village?!’.
Yes, mountain life is tougher especially in the remote places which unites people and makes them friendly, hospitable and always ready to help if you are in need! We felt that upon our arrival and afterwards in other small villages and quarters we visited.
Finally, it turned out the female team had a headache but at least thus mouths were shut. In some cases there were only eyes sparks!
We were near the river.

We went through the door of a wooden fence and went to a meadow but it was so wet and muddy, almost a swamp. By making an improvised stone path we reached the river and the old Roman Bridge, connecting both river banks, was above it.

In order to get to the eco path we had to return, to cross the other part of the village and to go to the river again. However, we decided to go near the river as close as possible and at one point we should reach the eco path.

We kept on walking along the stone road after the bridge up to a green glade with a stone fence. There was a beautiful cottage opposite it in a typical architectural style for the area and a lovely yard.

It was probably a guesthouse that we had passed by before with a big wooden padlocked gate.
Then we went to a fountain and turned left to keep on following the river.

We entered a stunningly green forest. We tried not to touch the tree branches because they were still wet from the yesterday morning’s rain and dew.

Another fountain, streams, the river was cranking up and down and in the end we reached it.

There was a noise of running water. We had obviously got to Vodenitsite area and the beginning of the eco path which was 13 km long. Of course we wouldn’t have to go along the whole path – we didn’t have the necessary time. There was a pavilion which was a beginning and a sign where wooden bridges started.

To our horror we noticed a board showing the path was closed.

Later, I don’t remember where exactly, we found out that the bridges were to be replaced. They were decayed in some places. Passing by them would have been quite dangerous and the waterfalls were so high-water. It would have been a real extreme experience. However, we wouldn’t play with our luck, would we?
We kept on walking through the forest hoping we would reach at least one of the big waterfalls.

That didn’t happen either. We wandered about some paths up and down and eventually we decided it was high time we went back. It was almost noon and we had to travel. Just before getting to the pavilion it started to rain. We had sandwiches, rested and enjoyed nature, the waterfalls and the rain sound. When the rain diminished, we put on our raincoats and dragged ourselves up the hill to the village centre. We had to go up a lot.
By the way, I had forgotten about my headache. I even didn’t remember when I got rid of it but apparently the pure mountain air and the puffing along the forest paths had saved me.
It was great it stopped raining as the hill was steep, wet and muddy, and the raincoat made you sweat and most of all I couldn’t take photos. The sun rose just when the steepness diminished. It was perfect. 

I fell behind but couldn’t take my eyes off it.


We walked along the rural streets again, past the stone houses covered with roof stone tiles, typical chimneys, blossomed cherry trees. So idyllic!



We talked to the local folks again as they were sitting on a bench or on a meadow accompanied by some lambs or a cow. They awarded me with a smile and invited us to visit the village again because it was raining then.
It was drizzling again and after a turn it started raining. We put on our raincoats again and the raindrops were falling on them. We got really wet until we reached the village top where the house was situated. It was good our hosts allowed us to leave our luggage there. So we managed to dry up and get ready to travel.
It was time to leave. We were really sorry we couldn’t stay for one more day in that ambience. Who would have known we would enjoy it so much?!
Zagrazhden village, Banite municipality, Smolyan district, located between green hills and sheltering cordial and hospitable people, saw us off in the same way it met us in after the rain evaporation. We stopped at the last turn before leaving the village to say goodbye and seal in our cameras, memory and heart that magnetic view.

Another place where I left a part of my heart ….
We continued travelling along the picturesque mountain way to Banite.

It rained, then it stopped and then it drizzled but right before Banite the rainy weather proved its advantages in regards to photography. Holding an umbrella and a camera I was staring at the scene before me and I was taking photos hectically.


We had sunny weather in Banite. It is a municipal spa centre.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to use the warm spa or the famous baths in Banite.

As the day was passing by, we established time had stopped here. Everything was so carefree, and the people were slow, calm and not impatient. There were some small mistakes all the time (we almost lost our accommodation despite the reservation and at least three confirmations) but as if no one cared. At first we were annoyed but when we realised that things were like that in Banite everything turned into a great fun.
In the evening we went for a walk. After a day or two the village holiday was going to take place and the folks were getting ready with a stage, a big BBQ and anything you could possibly imagine.

We had dinner at ‘The White House’ (a restaurant in one of the hotels) which was the most popular place in the village. We had the local ‘patatnik’ and we fell in love with this Rhodope dish. We already cook it at home.
After dinner we got to the hotel and went to bed.
On the next day there was going to be a walk to Ardino, the Devil’s Bridge, Kardzhali dam, a few villages and lots of sightseeing!

To be continued ….

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