Sofia, Bansko, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo,
Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival
Dorkovo Folk Festival
Black Sea Extension
Folk Culture, Folk Dancing, History, Art, Music, Adventure
When: July 22-August 4, 2024
Black Sea extension: August 4-8
Led and guided by: Ventsi Milev
with Bulgarian folk dance teacher Niki Enchev, and musician (gaida)
● Dorkovo and Koprivshtitsa Folk Festivals
● Meet and dance with local Bulgarian folkdance groups
● Daily folk dancing with Bulgarian folkdance teacher, Niki Enchev,
music with gaida player, Ventsi Andronov
● Explore world famous Seven Rila lakes
● Enjoy traditional cuisine and wines
● Visit 10th century Rila Monastery, a UNESCO site
● Price includes city tours, transfers, hotels, two meals daily, and our private bus
THE MAGIC AND ADVENTURE OF BULGARIA!
Join us as we travel with local musicians and Bulgarian folk dance teacher to attend the local Dorkovo Folk Festival and Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival. We’ll explore monuments of ancient Thrace, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and medieval Bulgaria, visit Sofia, scenic Bansko in the Pirin Mountains, artistic Plovdiv, and the 10th-century Rila Monastery with its icons and murals. We’ll conclude with a dramatic visit to Veliko Turnovo, medieval capital and birthplace of the Second Bulgarian Empire, and then extend our tour to the Black Sea.
Black Sea Extension: $1195
I can’t wait to go! Reserve my place with my $200 deposit per person.
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Welcome to Bulgaria!
Day 1: Monday, July 22: Depart on airline of your choice.
Day 2: Tuesday, July 23: Arrive in Sofia
The magic adventure in Bulgaria begins: Check into our 5-star Grand Hotel Sofia.
Orientation, meet-and-greet, followed by a welcome dinner.Bulgarian dancers
Day 3: Wednesday, July 24: Sofia
Guided walking tour of ancient and contemporary Sofia. Built on top of Roman Serdica, next to Vitosha Mountain, the Bulgarian capital is a blend of historic monuments, churches, parks, tranquil squares, imposing socialist buildings , and neoclassical architecture. At the crossroads between Europe and Asia, the city is socially diverse and tolerant, and admired for its “square of tolerance,” formed by a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a catholic cathedral all standing together close to each other. Afternoon free. Or visit the National History Museum in the outskirts of the capital. Dinner with live folk dancing in “Chevermeto” (the Spit roast). Overnight at 5 star Grand Hotel Sofia.
Day 4: Thursday, July 25: Sofia – Seven Rila Lakes – Sapareva Banya
Drive to Rila Mountain to explore the 7 Rila Lakes. Situated at an altitude of 8300 feet, highest on the Balkans Rila Mountain, this exquisite mountain phenomena, draws visitors from all over the world. A scenic path curls from bottom to top. Each lake has its own beauty, character, and individual name: Okoto (“The Eye”) after its oval form is the deepest lake in Bulgaria, Babreka (“Kidney”) has the steepest shores of the entire group, Bliznaka (“Twin”) is the largest. Trilistnika (“Trefoil”) has an irregular shape. The shallowest lake is Ribnoto Ezero (“Fish Lake”) and the lowest one is Dolnoto Ezero (“Lower Lake”), where the waters that flow out of the other lakes are gathered to form the Dzherman River.
But this place isn’t only endowed with natural beauty and pristine air. The Seven Fila Lakes were deeply loved by Bulgarian spiritual teacher Peter Dunov (1864-1944) who spoke of them as the most healing and energetic place in the country. He would gather his followers here, share with them his life-changing wisdom and teach them to dance “Panevritmia”. Even today hundreds of his admirers gather on certain dates to dance, connect, and recharge in this sacred mountain. We shall do the same.
Lunch on the mountain. Then on to the major SPA resort town of Sapareva Banya. After dinner we’ll stroll to the symbol of the town- a hot spring known as the only geyser in continental Europe. Folk dancing and overnight at modern SPA hotel.
Day 5: Friday, July 26: Sapareva Banya – Rila Monastery – Bansko
Travel south to the 10th century Rila Monastery. UNESCO listed, it is one of the most impressive religious sites on the continent with its size, abundance of frescoes and unique architecture. Dine on a local specialty for lunch – fresh river trout and traditional Bulgarian bean soup – then continue south to Bansko, a stronghold of Bulgarian revival architecture, culture and traditions. Enjoy sightseeing in Bansko’s cobbled-stone alleys and panoramic mountain views of the slopes of Pirin National Park . Late afternoon drive in the Pirin mountains to a picnic dinner and folk dancing at Chalin’s Farm! Overnight at 5 star Kempinski Grand Arena.
Day 6: Saturday, July 27: Bansko – Dobursko – Dorkovo
After breakfast, drive northeast through the Rhodopes, birthplace of mythological Orpheus. Visit the mysterious village of Dobursko, where the local choir Doburski Babi (Grandmas from Dobursko) will give us a private performance followed by a traditional homemade (by the grandmas) Bulgarian “Banitsa” pastry and yogurt snack. Travel along a mountain road to the village of Dorkovo and its International Festival for Authentic Folklore. Dinner, folk dancing, and overnight in Velingrad often called the spa capital of the Balkans! Overnight at Velingrad SPA Hotel.Jim Gold travelers dance Pravo horo in Kovachevtsi village. Photo by Jack Seltzer
Day 7: Sunday, July 28: Dorkovo – Batak – Snezhanka Cave – Plovdiv
Enjoy the festival! Noon departure for fresh fish lunch on the banks of picturesque Batak Lake. Visit town of Batak. Hike to one of Bulgaria’s most stunning caves, named “Snezhanka” or “Snow white” for its beauty. End in Plovdiv – Bulgaria’s 2nd largest city, known as its artistic capital, and European capital of culture for 2019. Folk dancing and overnight at quality Plovdiv Hotel.
Day 8: Monday, July 29: Plovdiv – Bachkovo Monastery – Plovdiv
Morning sightseeing tour of the old town art galleries and antique shops. View masterpieces of 18-19th century Bulgarian Renaissance architecture, Thracian and Roman remains, orthodox churches and a 2nd century Roman Amphitheater. Explore the country’s richest Ethnographic Museum, then walk Plovdiv’s lively pedestrian street offering cafés and restaurants. See the Roman Stadium, Roman Forum, and 15th century Mosque and the newly opened Bishop’s Basilica. Afternoon visit to 11th century Bachkovo Monastery – second-largest in Bulgaria and known for its architecture, murals and icons. Lunch in traditional restaurant overlooking a scenic mountain river. Return to Plovdiv for free afternoon and evening of folk dancing. Overnight at Plovdiv Hotel.
Day 9: Tuesday, July 30: Plovdiv – Rose Valley – Shipka Pass – Etur – Veliko Turnovo
Travel north through the Valley of Roses and Valley of the Thracian Kings (in UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 1979). After visiting the Thracian Tomb and the gold-domed Shipka Memorial Church, we’ll cross the Balkan range through scenic Shipka Pass and stop at open-air Village Museum of Etura depicting authentic housing and crafts traditions from the past centuries. Afternoon arrival in Veliko Turnovo. Lunch along the way! Folk dancing and overnight at family owned Gurko Boutique Hotel.
Day 10: Wednesday, July 31: Veliko Turnovo & Arbanassi Village
Sightseeing tour of Bulgaria’s mediaeval capital, built on the steep cliffs of the meandering Yantra river gorge. We’ll visit the remains of fortress walls, palaces and churches on Tsarevets Hill, see the Four-Horsemen monument and Samovodska Street, meet pastry cooks, master goldsmiths, potters and wood carvers to talk with, and see their crafts. Afternoon visit the village of Arbanassi, situated on a high plateau above the city of Turnovo, and known for 18th century architecture and decorated churches. Dinner in a traditional restaurant. Folk dancing and overnight at Boutique Hotel.
Day 11: Thursday, August 1: Veliko Turnovo – Beklemeto – Koprivshtitsa
Heading south we’ll cross the Balkan Range, driving past green meadows and pine forests to town of Koprivshtitsa. Here in 1876 was fired the first shot of the April Uprising, which marked the prelude to the end of the five-century Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. Miraculously, Koprivshtitsa survived the Uprising and is now one of the few preserved architectural reserves from the Bulgarian Revival Period. Dinner in “Diado Liben” (Grandpa Liben) traditional restaurant. Lunch in Troyan along the way. Folk dancing and overnight at family-owned traditional country lodge.
Day 12-13: Friday-Saturday, August 2-3: Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival
Two whole days at the festival – included in UNESCO’s list of immaterial heritage since 2016. The small town gets full of musicians and visitors from all parts of the world. Days of unforgettable folk dancing, singing, ethnic costumes, performing groups, and photo opportunities! Plus visit preserved houses from the Bulgarian revival period. Overnight at family-owned traditional country lodge.
Jim Gold Bulgaria Tour: Dancing at the Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival!
Dancing Kopanitsa horo in a field at the Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival
Day 14: Sunday, August 4: Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival – SOFIA / BURGAS
Morning departure for Sofia and your flight home. Or to Burgas for more
exploration along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Travel time to Sofia – 2 hours.
Travel time to Burgas 3 ½ hours.
5-day/4 night Black Sea Extension
Day 14: Sunday, August 4: Burgas
Evening arrival in Burgas, 4th largest city in Bulgaria. Your hotel is situated in a charming sea garden, a walk away from the sea and near the pedestrian part of town. Hotel Primoretz also offers SPA facilities. Overnight at 5 star Grand Hotel Sofia (SOFIA) or 5 star Primoretz Grand Hotel & SPA.
Day 15: Monday, August 5: Free Day in Burgas
Overnight at 5 star Primoretz Grand Hotel & SPA.
Day 16: Tuesday, August 6: Burgas – Nessebar – Varna
Enjoy a leisurely morning at the beach or in town. At noon, we’ll visit a Thracian tomb unique for the Balkan Peninsula. Dated from the end of the 2nd to 4th century, it’s the latest Thracian tomb discovered in Bulgaria. Then explore Nessebar--a narrow peninsula, bursting with winding cobbled stone alleyways, timber houses, churches, medieval fortification walls. It is one of the oldest towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. We’ll lunch at a delightful restaurant with a delightful view, then continue on to Varna (Sister City to Miami!). Overnight at a quality Varna hotel.
Day 17: Wednesday, August 7: Varna – Balchik – Dalboka Mussel Farm – Varna
Varna, Bulgaria’s third biggest city. has the tranquil air of a coastal resort. Highlights of our city tour include 2nd century Roman baths (largest on the Balkan Peninsula), the Archaeological Museum housing the “Oldest Gold” (from 4600 BC), Varna’s shopping streets and the Sea Garden. Noon drive to Balchik. In 1913 the region around the town was annexed by Romania and returned to Bulgarian sovereignty in 1940 along with the Summer Palace of Queen Marie. We’ll explore the palace together with Balchik’s botanical garden. Lunch of fresh mussels and fish at the Dalboka Mussel Farm and Restaurant, overlooking the beautiful Kaliakra Bay. Evening return to Varna. Farewell Dinner. Overnight at a quality Varna hotel.
Day 18: Thursday, August 8: Varna – Sofia
At 8:35 a.m. a short flight to Sofia airport, landing 9:25 a.m. Flight home.
Registration: I can’t wait to go! Reserve my place with my $200 deposit per person. Single supplement: $795. Black Sea Extension single supplement: $395. Additional charges: $185 hotel taxes and service. Gratuities and drinks during meals not included. Program subject to change without notice. Cancellations 90 days prior to departure: Total refund: Less than 90 days: No refund. Travel insurance always recommended. Total balance due April 25, 2024.
Black Sea Extension: Yes_____No_____
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