Monday, May 19, 2008

A Hike to 7 Lakes and a Mask Festival

TWO NEW GUIDES! That's what I discovered yesterday at Border's - a fantastic Eyewitness Guide to Bulgaria filled with color photos and a stark black and white Frommer's Guide to Eastern Europe filled with good ideas. Frommer's had a number of "Top 5"s in Eastern Europe, and they listed Bulgaria as having the best festival, the best hike, and the 2nd best quaint medieval towns. The hike and the festival interested me particularly, so here is a quick run down.

Bulgaria's Award Winning Hike: Rila 7 Lakes

Beginning from the Rila Monastery, hikers spend a long day walking to a hut where they can spend the night. From the hut it is easy to set off the next day and explore this beautiful chain of alpine lakes. Read all about it at:

Bulgaria's Award Winning Festival: The International Mummery Festival

Held annually in Pernik (just a short jaunt from Sofia), the festival drew 5,000 participants and 25,000 revelers last January. Radio Bulgaria covered the goings-on; here is a short excerpt from the article: "The festival jury of ethnologists was to single out and award the most authentic costumes, masks and rituals. In fact the festival seeks to preserve the diversity of the old local traditions. In the past the dancing pageant of mummers, old men and Xmas carol singers preceded the season of hard work in the fields. The ritual meaning of those rites was to drive evil forces away, while today carnival dancing is chiefly for entertainment. However, traditions are still alive, uniting local communities. Masked performers put on fur coats and belts with strings of copper bells. Among the festival’s guests was Italian anthropologist Prof. Cesare Poppi who studies the carnival traditions of various peoples looking for the common roots of European culture. " You can read more and see more pictures at:

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