If you’re ever near Sofia, Bulgaria and the sun decides to rear its head again, go for a day trip to the village of Dolni Pasarel and Plana Mountain. This area is the smaller, way unpopular sister of Vitosha Mountain, but it’s a great place to escape the city, without actually leaving it. Here’s how to have a nice hike to Peyova Buka hut, before winter settles in permanently.
Two girlfriends and I had arranged to go to a hippie campsite for the weekend but our plans fell through at the last minute – literally as were locking our front doors. So, he had to come up with an easy alternative. Plana Mountain turned out to be a mystery to us all, even though it’s just a quick ride away, with public transport. Instead of spending another lazy Saturday in Sofia, we dropped the tents, but got a bitch, beers, chocolate, and set out to Dolni Pasarel.
We hopped on suburban bus line №3, where we got to know a gang of grandmas and the bitch found an admirer. For 1.60 leva (€ 0.80) we received an hour-long panoramic tour of Sofia’s vicinities, including a lake, a dam, and a monastery. So, if you decide to impersonate a Bulgarian high-school student and get drunk on the bus, you can still say that you’ve been on a trip in nature.
To go straight on the hike, you have to get off the bus just before the bridge (at “Bridge Dolni Pasarel”). Naturally, we missed the stop and hopped off at the square. There, we found two old ladies and a few pub-dwellers, whom we asked for directions to the hut. Both groups were adamant, “Oh that’s so far! You’ll get lost. Just go the caravans, 10 minutes away from here, or better yet – have a seat at the pub.” But we are 3 modern, independent women (and a bitch) so there was no dissuading us.
In reality, the hike is only about 1-2 hours, on a well-marked path. The journey is beautiful, with alternating lush forests and vast meadows, and since it’s not particularly steep, this hike is nothing more than a pleasant walk in Plana Mountain. Besides, every now and again you get a peek of some thermal power plant in Sofia, as well as Iskar Reservoir. Even though we were still completely sober, nature gave us a buzz and every now and again we’d stop to admire its intricacies – Plana might not be the most exotic spot on the globe but it’s certainly pretty.
Peyova Buka hut was locked, but you can eat whatever you’ve brought and pat yourself on the back while taking a break at the wooden tables and benches nearby. There, you’ll also find the century-old oak “Peyova Buka” and, apart from an ignorable pile of trash, it’s a nice place to chill before heading back.
On our way to the village, we plunged deep into a conversation about the zodiac, men, and men’s zodiac signs (we are 3 independent women, after all), the sun was shining and life was great. However, about an hour in, I thought that the landscape looked unfamiliar and upon sharing this discovery with my compatriots they both said, “Well yeah, I thought that this was the wrong path but just didn’t think to mention it.” So, we laid on the grass for a smoke, some chocolate, and regrouping. After trying a few other wrong paths and a “shortcut” through the forest, we finally had to face reality and go all the way back to the hut. Apparently, we got confused at the very beginning of our way back but refused to accept it until the very end.
We were determined to be real mountaineers and end the hike with a classic – rakiya at the local pub. Pure old-school village romance – lacy curtains, plywood seating, pungent smell of fried onions, hand-written receipts, Gobelins hanging on the walls, and outside – the local hunting company chain-smoking and glass-clinking. The waitress who took our order had a nicely pressed, though stained apron, and treated us, along with the village drunk who joined our emancipated group, as if we were dear family. The dishes were oily and delicious, just like your grandma would make them, and created a small symphony with the Katnobatska rakiya.
Like genuine children of the mountain, we spent more time at the pub than in the forest, until we finally had to take the last bus home. Our carriage might’ve been decorated in soccer hooligan profanities, but we were cozy anyway. Smoldered the bitch with drunken hugs, while confiding in each other about life, love, and the beauties of female friendship.
And so, if you ever have a free Saturday on your hands, take a trip to Plana Mountain, and knock back a rakiya or two in the name of modern women.
What is your favorite spot for a day-trip outside of Sofia? Share in the comments below