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5 Reasons why you should try mineral bathing in Sofia

If you are the adventurous type and always searching for the best local experience, then check this out. Asen, the founder of Balcanic: will explain to you why soaking in the mineral water is his number 1 way to keep viruses away and stay healthy.

  1. It’s coming deep from the ground at 47 degrees / 117.6 Fahrenheit.

This quality makes the water an amazing idea not only during the cold winter months, but at any day of the year actually. Soaking helps relieve physical pain, arthritis, heals the joints and calms the nervous system. When you enter the bath, you will find signs on the walls saying: “Water heals in silence” and this is so true! Try for yourself to just sit still for 10-15 min and see how the mind starts to quiet too.

  1. There are no other tourists, so you feel like a local too!

Believe it or not, there are no tourists in the local mineral bath. Asen usually goes in the early hours of the day around 9am and 11am when it’s less busy and calm. Doing something special like this, helps you feel the spirit of the culture and makes this experience even more valuable.

  1. Calcium, Magnesium and other minerals are best absorbed through the skin

The magic healing water contains 1000 mgr calcium and 1000 mgr magnesium per 1 ltr of water. This is a lot! Just to give you an example, 1 banana contains 27 mgr of magnesium. Magnesium is important for the nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation. Unfortunately, nowadays most of the people suffer from magnesium insufficiency. Why not just soak in the water and take care of the level of the minerals in your body right away.

Oh and by the way – as your skin is the largest organ in the body, you can imagine it absorbs stuff much quicker ? That explains the rise in energy after the bath as well as the improved mood!

  1. It’s just soo good for your skin!

Mineral water makes your skin soft. Soaking in the water for 10-15 min makes it easier to scrub your body and release the dirt and accumulated dead cells. In some bath houses in Bulgaria, you can encounter the local “bath men”. Their job is to literally scrub the dirt off your body. The effect on your body and mind is immediate. You will notice that your body never felt so clean! After a mineral bath the skin glows and has a healthy complexion.

  1. Last but not least – you can fill up your bottle and drink the water!

Mineral water is healing not only for soaking, but also for drinking. It’s best to drink it when it cools down. In many local baths, you have a source just right outside the bath, where you can fill up your bottle and continue the treatment even when you go back home!

Asen organizes regular experiences to his favorite local bath house just 10 km away from Sofia. He combines them with a silent meditation hike with a beautiful view.

Join Asen to his morning inspiration experience to the local bath house.

Read more about this experience by Kara Mosseso, digital nomad – nurse, who joined his special edition experience for Remote Year.

For questions or special requests, send us an e-mail at info@balcanic.com 

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How to get to and sleep over in the Rila monastery

About the Rila monastery
The monastery was built some 10 centuries ago by Ivan Rilski. It has 5 floors, 4 of which are visible and one is “hidden” due to requirements at the Ottoman time. This is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and therefore a real must see, housing the biggest collection of icons on the territory of the country. Moreover, the beautiful scenery of the surrounding Rila mountain will help you find peace and tranquility.

Best way to experience it?
Imagine being able to stay the night at Macchu Picchu? Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to immerse into a place, is to sleep over and there are very few tourist attractions in the world where you can actually do it. This is possible in the Rila Monastery, for a very low price and we strongly recommend it, so you also get the chance to feel the surroundings!

How to get there?

  • By public transport: There is a regular shuttle bus going from Sofia to the Rila Monastery. It departs every day from Bus and Coach station Ovcha Kupel at 10:20 AM and the journey takes 3 hours. The cost of the ticket is 11 BGN and you can buy it at the bus station or in the bus. To get to the bus station, you can take tram 5. You can buy the tram ticket from the tram stop, from the machine in the tram or from the driver as last resort. It costs 1,60 BGN and it’s always better to have the exact amount prepared. The tram stop is situated behind the Palace of Justice on street Lavele. Get off at the 11th stop at Bus Station Ovcha Kupel, that is approximately after 20 minutes depending on the traffic. Mind you, the return bus is at 3PM from Rila Monastery back to Sofia.

 

  • By car: It takes about 2 hours to drive the 120 km to the Rila monastery from the center of Sofia. Once you get there, there will be a Parking to leave your car. Don’t park in front of the monastery if you are going to stay for the night, as this parking is just for short-time visitors. Go around and park behind at the designated area. You can rent a car from Val & Kar starting at 20 EUR per day, as well as have your rental delivered to your door from Dream Rent.

Sleeping over in the monastery
This is an amazing experience which we would definitely recommend. The monastery has a specially designated area for hosting travellers. Don’t expect anything luxurious, but do expect a tranquil time with the monks. Here is what you should know about sleeping over.

  • Make a reservation by calling at +359 70542208. The reception doesn’t speak English, so some basic Bulgarian is recommended. Here is a phrase you can use: “ Mozje li da rezerviram leglo za dovechera na imeto na ….(fill in your name).” – meaning “May I reserve a bed under the name of…..”
  • The price is 25 BGN per night and check in is before 6PM, otherwise the door will be closed 🙂
  • There are many restaurants in the area but you might want to bring some snacks for breakfast just in case.
  • At 9pm the doors of the monastery close, so make sure you are in your room before that.
  • As of 9:30am, there is fresh Mekici for breakfast. The breakfast is not included, but you will find the shop behind the monastery.

Things to do around the monastery
Once you wake up fresh and vibrant, you might want to walk around. We recommend visiting the Ivan Rilski cave. It’s around half an hour walk from the Rila monastery. The saint spent 7 years of his life in this cave and there is a legend that you will be clean from all sins if you pass through the stone hole in the cave. Stay tuned for more detailed information about how to get to the cave and what to do there.

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4 easy walks around Sofia

If you are wondering what to do during your free days in the city, then our advice is to get out in the nature a much as you can.  Here a few ideas for easy walks in and around  Sofia.

Golden bridges, Vitosha mountain.

There is a belief that the mountain you see from Sofia city center is an extinguished volcano. Whether that’s true, we don’t know but the stone formations, as known as “moreni” are pretty interesting and hint of an impressive past.

The name of the area golden bridges, comes from the belief that the river running under the stones actually has small particles of gold. You will find many small paths in this area leading to “Cherni Vrah”, “Momina Skala”, “Aleko” and “Boyana waterfall”.

The area impresses with hundred year-old oaks and super long spruce trees.

How to get there? The cheapest way to get there is by using public transportation. The only bus that goes to the area Golden Bridges (“Zlatni mostove”) is bus 63. To plan your trip, we advice you to use the website of sofiatraffic  and navigate your journey. It takes about 1,5 hours to get there.

Recommended time to go: all year round is a good time to visit. However, always take into account to dress with extra layers as weather in the mountain can be tricky.

Where to grab a bite: there are a few huts in the area. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to bring along some snacks to be on the safe side.

Kamen Del peak, Vitosha mountain

Another beautiful place, in close to proximity to Sofia is Kamen Del. Kamen means stone. It’s a part of the mountain, completely covered in stones and it offers picturesque views to Sofia. Starting point is 100 metres from Aleko Hut, there is a path that goes through the forest. It takes around 60min walking to the top, where you can contemplate the last rays of the sun. Take some extra layers because the mountain is cold once the sun goes down.

Recommended time to go: April-September.

How long it takes?
It takes around 4 hours in total, including the travel time.

Walk around Pancharevo lake

The lake Pancharevo is artificially created, situated some 12km away from Sofia. Back in the days, it was widely used for water sports training and competitions. The surrounding area offers opportunities for walks around the lake (a 10km long trail), hikes in the forest and visit to the local mineral bath. The hikes are rewarding and if you find the right path, you will end up at the top overlooking the whole lake ad the surrounding Vitosha mountain.

Best time to visit? This is an year round destination, offering the comfort of the forest whenever you need it.

How to get there? If you prefer public transportation, the lake is best reached with bus 1, from metro station Tsarigradsko Shose. Get off at stop  БАНЯТА ПАНЧАРЕВО (the Pancharevo bath). The  bus ride takes around 15 min.

The monastery St. Ivan Rilski in German village

The beautiful monastery is 15km away from Sofia in the Lozen mountain. Given that it’s one of the oldest monasteries around Sofia, it is very well maintained. In the yard, you will find 2 beautiful and tall redwood trees, planted back at the days if Maria Luisa and Ferdinand.

How to get there? Take the metro to metro station G.M. Dimitrov. Take bus number 5 and after an hour, get off at bus stop Firma Sisten. From there it’s 3,4 km walk to the monastery.