Pamporovo, August 2021
I organised my very first workshop, which took place in my heart country, Bulgaria, with 19 participants. We arrive in Sofia around 21:00 and what better way to start the journey than with an authentic Bulgarian meal? Most people in the group are students in my Stretching/Yoga classes and, as I am the only one who knows everybody, I ask everyone to introduce themselves… It seems like we are a very diverse group and I can already tell that this is going to be a fascinating trip! We all head off to bed early, as tomorrow’s schedule is packed.
The adventure begins! This first day takes us to Sofia: the fabulous Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Saint Sofia Church, the national theatre, the Rotunda of the Church of Saint George, as well as a number of buildings and sites from the communist era. The weather is beautiful with blue skies and, with 38 degrees and almost all of us living in Belgium, these weather conditions are a true blessing. It feels like the holidays…
At the end of the day, we depart for Plovdiv although the actual visit will only take place tomorrow. In the meantime, we take a little tour of the old town and take some group pictures… Apparently, the thermometer will reach 40 degrees tomorrow. Wonderful!
The morning is dedicated to our visit of Plovdiv, the oldest – still inhabited – city in Europe. The first traces of civilisation date back to the Mycenaean period, around the end of the 2nd century BC. The old town is absolutely gorgeous but… it’s 40 degrees…
We decide to cut the visit short and head back to Pamporovo and its more benevolent temperatures. We arrive around 16:00 and decide to dive straight into an impromptu stretching/yoga class. And what a pleasure to discover the fabulous spa and 25 meter/5-lane hotel swimming pool.
Nicely settled in Pamporovo, our day starts with a yoga class at 08:00.
After breakfast, it’s time for a hike! On this first day of activities, we climb up to the Snezhanka Peak, at 1928 meters altitude. Bulgaria is an absolute treasure trove of communist era buildings and the view from the top of the Snezhanka Tower is breathtaking!
We return to the hotel in the late afternoon for some stretching, which is more than welcome after the long hike! After the class, we take a few hours to relax at the hotel’s spa. The massage centre is, once again, quickly overrun!
In order to give everyone the opportunity to truly enjoy the hikes, at their own pace, we create two groups: one for those who prefer a 2 – 3 hour hike and, another for those who are fine with 4 – 5 hour hikes. Schedule for this day: the Canyon of Waterfalls, a 12 km hike. We are in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains, the largest of Bulgaria’s mountain ranges. The landscapes are just awe-inspiring and we quickly realise that this trip is going to be a visual stunner. At times, it feels like we are in Avatar and I am walking around on Pandora. After all that physical effort, the evening yoga class is exactly what we need for our bodies to recover. The massage therapist’s schedule is still solidly booked!
And off we go again! We meet Asen Rashev for the first time. He will be our guide for the next two days. This athlete was a trainer for the Bulgarian national snowboarding team, but during the summer months, he is one of the managers in charge of the hiking expeditions at the resort. Every year, he opens up new trails and today, we head off to Falcon Rock and the Neviastata eco trail. Once again, we are blown away by Nature’s majesty in this part of the world!
After 14 km, the evening class is a welcome relief and as always, the exercises are geared towards relaxing the legs and the back. And… did I mention the pool? Nirvana…
We have a nice little routine going and, what a pleasure to be able to do classes outdoors, in a balmy 22 degree Celsius… perfect!
For this last day of hiking, we decide, with Asen, on a trail called Pamporova 360°, a hike of immeasurable beauty all around the resort.
Throughout this entire week, we worked on our Sirsasana, head stands, and everyone really seems to have grown to like it. The pool remains one of the absolute moments of relaxation!
The last day of our trip and nobody really wants to head home… After one last outdoor class, we leave Pamporovo behind us and head to Sofia, where we visit the Bachkovo monastery, the second-largest in Bulgaria, only outdone by the Rila monastery.
There you go… this first workshop in Bulgaria was exceptional in many ways. Aside from the incredible natural surroundings and the magic that resides in these places, it was the group of individuals that made this trip such an enchanting experience. Our time together was filled with kindness, humour and compassion. From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank all 19 participants for being there!