Thursday, June 05, 2014

Melnik

Upon first arriving in Melnik one wonders why he has come. The city map and bus schedule posted by the bus stop are not for Melnik but for Sandanski a larger city 30 minutes to the northwest. The village - the smallest town in Bulgaria we are told -  sits in a narrow sandy valley between two ugly hills. And what appears to be a river flowing through the town turns out to be a drainage ditch - and it's dry.

However, we spend two beautiful days in Melnik. Our hotel is run by a friendly, by Bulgarian standards, family. We have two tasty dinners at two different family-run restaurants. The tour of the Ottoman-styled Kordopulov House in town ends with free wine tasting in an ancient cellar. The peculiar geology of the area, responsible for the dusty, sandy streets turns out to make great hiking with dramatic views of pyramidal sandstone peaks, hidden churches, above-town fortifications, and twisting trails up sandy gullies. Tourists wander around town. Wine tourism is big as Melnik has its own grape variety with a distinctive (to us) taste.  Art students sit and paint the old buildings. And we witness an Orthodox Christening at the cozy Rozhen Monastery Church 6kms away.

Melnik is beautiful and unique.

The town.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Inside the Kordapulov House with its Turkish stylings and stained glass windows.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

The huge wine cellar is carved out of the sandstone. This is just one small room. 
Melnik, Bulgaria

Shopska Salad - a tradition.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Red peppers and mish mash.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Big tree on the town square with our hotel at right.
Melnik, Bulgaria

On the trail to Rozhen Monastery - up the gully!
Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Out of the gullies with a view back to Melnik.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

The trail narrows and the railing has fallen away. Yikes!
Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

View to Rozhen Monastery.
Rozhen, Bulgaria

Rozhen, Bulgaria

Stained glass window of the Monastery's church.
Rozhen, Bulgaria

The refectory dinner table.
Rozhen, Bulgaria

The cozy courtyard with grape arbor (in a light rain).
Rozhen, Bulgaria

Wine tourism country for sure. ;-)
Melnik, Bulgaria

Almost every house has a blooming rose bush and a spreading grape wine.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Above Melnik there is a trail linking several old fallen down churches, a fortress, and great views all around.
Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Our last dinner in Melnik at Mehana Mencheva Kâshta - home cookin'.
Mehana Mencheva Kâshta - Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik is on the wine tourism route so the locals often sell their homemade wine by the plastic bottle.
Home made Wine - Melnik, Bulgaria









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