It was Friday, a day promising a surprise journey without directions and many encounters with places and things so far unfamiliar. Friday is a day before the Saturday when Red Sneakers’ trips start with “Where are we going, George?!” and he usually looks at me silently for a few seconds. However, in his silence I can read “Oh, do hold on for a while! I’m not giving away anything.”
It’s Saturday. Over the past night my imagination has produced dreams of “surprise” locations. We quickly share the first cup of coffee and get in the car. We pass the End of Sofia road sign and soon reach the one marking the beginning of Pernik. And then I am very, even extremely surprised. But we drive on. Scenic views like the ones George calls desktop landscapes follow one after the other. What beauty! And what a great sky we had that Saturday! As blue as the azure of the sea.
This part of the country looks familiar. I quickly remember the tiniest details from the autumn of 2014 when I first set foot in the region of Trun. Then I was tracing back a family history starting in 1883, which I had endeavoured to tell, as I am a story teller, a seeker of facts and an experienced journalist. Today this story can be found in my computer in a file named File 1. It was my first project in my new state of freedom to choose my own time to work.
When George promises me a surprise on Saturday, I can’t make a single association with the Trun region. But it was then and there that I remembered Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov’s words about this area: “The scenic beauty of the frontier region surprised us; the countryside here is a kind of a Bulgarian Switzerland.”
The landscape is still breathtakingly beautiful.
5 years ago, when I travelled in the region on my own and researched church archives in order to gather a whole family through the records of their life, such as christening certificates and other, I went as far as the Erma river gorge, but I just reached it, I didn’t enter the heart of the gorge. I was in a hurry to get back to Varna. Back then I thought I made my plans myself. Now I am convinced that in the giant plan of the Universe I was to see the most beautiful river gorge with … George.
Our red sneakers love the rustle of dry leaves, the cool of the forest, the high of a bridge and fast flowing water. They love unfamiliar places as well. And we find all these this Saturday in Trun. From the gorge we climb to a gazebo but decide to go on walking. Being always hungry, we are tempted by a sign reading “Ribarnik”( Fishery). We follow the sign as children from a fairytale who try to find their way by the breadcrumbs they had scattered. We walk through the wood for about 40 minutes and we even pass under a cave tunnel. At a certain point the path descends and suddenly we see a several houses huddled together. The sign “Ribarnik” keeps tantalizing our culinary fantasies, or rather, our hunger. We don’t imagine we’ll have whale meat; it will in all probability be trout. I’ve heard George lovingly speak of roasted fish as often as I mention the word “beach” when I have some leisure time. That surely makes plenty of times. We walk along a road lined with old houses, some deserted as in a film set… one thinks of a couple at the table, over cards, over dinner or over a bottle of sour plum brandy. There are many sour plum trees around, with the fruit left unpicked. A delicious whiff of roasted fish is in the air.
The fishery is below us, in the lower part of the road. We could have continued along the eco trail to the hot springs in the village of Bankya, but we turn left and decisively head for the large marquee put up between two trailers with several beehives nearby. This is the Ribarnik.
George finds a table and I, under the excuse of washing my hands, get carried away in a conversation with the owner’s daughter-in-law. We struck the acquaintance at the wash basin. We talk about the villages in the area, some of them divided by the mountain ridge. Later uncle Peter tells me that that this neighbourhood, Bogoina, was before the Neuilly Treaty one of the five neighbourhoods comprising the village of Petachintsi. Many years ago French officials drew the border, beyond which four neighbourhoods remained on Serbian territory. Peter built the fishery Ribarnika seven years ago, together with several men from the hunting group. Today he is running the place with his son and it is the family business. All the family is involved and it shows. The fish is delicious and they serve it sprinkled with a mix of local Trun herbs. They also bake wonderful bread buns and potatoes in embers.
We are thinking of returning by the same road, but uncle Peter heartily recommends taking the second eco trail, which goes around the area in the opposite direction and closes the circle at the Erma river gorge. We follow the advice and wide panoramic views unfold before our eyes.
We get back to the car after 50 min treck along forest paths and gentle hills. Then we reach Vrabchanski waterfall in the Greben mountains. Although the part of it, which remains on Bulgarian territory is very small, it offers beautiful sights – The Stakyov Kamik mountain, the Dragovsko Vrelo (a waterfall), little caves and other small waterfalls. From this point several hiking trails of varying difficulty can be chosen.
From the Trun region we take home some jam made from hot peppers, nettles honey and home-made fruit juice. It is all meant for our good health. And for breakfast on Saturday.