Arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria’s 7,000-year-old capital, and enjoy a traditional dinner.
Day 3: Tour Sofia & travel to Sandanski
Walk down the “Yellow Brick Road” as you pass through the historic section of Sofia and view sites from the time of Constantine the Great to post-communism and through to the modern day. Walk on a Roman road in the Ancient Complex of Serdica, see iconography of the Eastern Orthodox church at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and explore the underground museum of tombs featuring mosaics and frescoes beneath the Saint Sofia Basilica.
Day 4: Rila Monastery & travel to Plovdiv
See the countryside as you travel to Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, withcolorful woodcarvings and frescos inside and out. This example of Bulgarian Renaissance architecture is striking against the backdrop of the highest mountain range in Bulgaria.
Day 5: Tour Plovdiv & travel to Stone & Compass Center
Wake to the ancient city of Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe. Boasting over 200 Thracian, Greek, and Roman archaeological sites, this city of seven hills lives up to its title of European Capital of Culture for 2019. Sit in the ancient Roman amphitheater that is still used today and visit the TrakArt museum where you will find Roman mosaics and intricately beautiful 1700-year-old glass vases. Sample traditional Bulgarian, Turkish, and Armenian fare as you walk the cobblestone streets of Ancient Plovdiv, lined with restored houses from the Bulgarian Revival period.
Day 6: Etara & Sokolski Monastery
Step back in time as you enter the gates of Etara, a living museum featuring a traditional craft marketplace. Waterwheels power machinery used for woodcarving, pottery, weaving, and silversmithing, among others. Try traditional apple pastry from the bakery or Turkish coffee brewed over hot sand while you watch the artisans at work and shop for unique handcrafted items. Up the hill from Etara, Sokolski Monastery features a vibrantly painted exterior, beautiful views, and serene gardens.
Day 7: Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanasi
Explore Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of Second Bulgarian Empire. Climb the steps of the medieval fortress of Tsarevets for panoramic views of this city and the river that winds around it. Inside the reconstructed church atop the fortress you will see unique modern frescoes reflecting the long history of this site.
Day 8: Troyan Monastery & cultural dinner
Visit Bulgaria’s third largest monastery to see frescoes inside and paintings outside by Zahari Zograf, a famous painter of the Bulgarian National Revival, a wood carved altar and a unique icon known as the Three-Handed Virgin. There are cafes, shops, and art galleries to enjoy near the monastery. Return to The Center for a traditional dinner and celebrate with a Bulgarian performance group sharing music, song, and dance.
Day 9: Tour Dryanovo Monastery
Dryanovo monastery, founded in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 17th century, was used as a preparation site by revolutionaries for liberation from Ottoman rule. There is a restaurant and traditional craft shopping within the complex. A short walk offers views of a waterfall and the picturesque cliffs of the Dryanovo river gorge, as well as an opportunity to explore the caverns of Bacho Kiro Cave.
Day 10 & 11: Travel to Sofia & farewell dinner, departure
Awaken your senses with one last morning cup of coffee or tea in the barn. Breathe the fresh air and relish the peace and serenity that is STONE & COMPASS. Enjoy views of the countryside as you travel back to Sofia. Take a last stroll down Vitosha boulevard and enjoy a traditional dinner as you reflect on your experience with your travel companions and imagine when you will return...as you will want to return!