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As a "guide" I visited places and attractions, the greater part of which I already knew. I could also see, however, things new to me. Of course, I also visited my friends in Kazanlak / Stara Zagora. I arrived on Friday. In line with our old tradition, the first day was reserved for eating and drinking. This time it was Kazanlak’s turn again.


Visiting my friends in Kazanlak







If you look at the two full bottles of homemade brandy (rakiya), you could guess how difficult the task ahead of us was.



Look again: We did it!



Our itinerary for the next day envisaged a trip to Perushtitsa and Batak. Both towns are known for their monstrous massacres that the Turks did in the defeat of the April uprising in 1876. They killed Bulgarian civilians, women and children too. But by doing that, they went too far. The European newspapers spread the news of the atrocities in millions of copies. A wave of indignation passed over Europe: William Gladstone published an article about the atrocities against the Bulgarians, Victor Hugo held an impassioned speech in favor of Bulgaria at the French National Assembly, and Giuseppe Garibaldi in Italy raised the issue during the demonstrations. In Russia, writers like Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ivan Turgenev rose voices. In short: Suddenly Bulgaria was on top of the political agenda of Europe, something the Turks definitely did not want. This led to the Russian-Turkish War of 1877/78, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman yoke that lasted almost 500 years.



Arriving in Perushtitsa



The memorial











A view to Perushtitsa



The plain of Perushtitsa





On the way to Batak





Arriving in Batak





The entrance of the church where one of the massacres took place



Collective coffin for the victims








After this impressive visit we continued our travel to the dam near Batak. Stefan had to quickly transform our car into an SUV (sports utility vehicle), as there was no real road to that place. But he managed it!





Maryanna as a fisherwoman



A lot of people camped out there



In the Rose Valley near Kazanlak


On the second day we mainly wanted to enjoy nature. First, we went to a lake, then – near Kalofer – to a river, where many Bulgarians had put up their tents.






We had lunch in a restaurant which evidently has international contacts






Then we crossed the Balkan Mountains through the Troyan Pass travelling to the north. There was still much to be desired in terms of road conditions, which required a significant effort by Stefan.





A monument on the top of the Troyan Pass



The monastery of Troyan





On the way to Shipka Pass





The village of Apriltsi, named after the April uprising, during which it was destroyed






On its northern side I found the Balkan Mountains more powerfully impressive and spectacular than on its southern side. We got back to Kazanlak through the Shipka Pass.

My conclusion: I spent three exciting days with my friends and I already expect our next meeting in September.

 
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