Valley Of The Roses
My sister (Marilyn) and I had a lovely 2 week holiday at our apartment late September 2011. As well as wanting a nice relaxing break we also wanted to see a bit more of Bulgaria, particularly where the roses are grown Valley of the Roses. Bulgaria is well known for its beautiful roses and produces a wide range of products derived from roses including soaps, perfumes, bath and shower creams, honey, yoghurt and jam to say just a few. So we booked a day trip to Kazanlak and had an absolutely brilliant day.
Although it was coming to the end of the summer season (everything starts to wind down towards the end of September – even earlier some years unfortunately) the weather, like the UK in late September/early October can still be very good. We were lucky enough to find a tourist office in St Vlas that was still arranging tours. The lady in the office made a few enquiries to see if there would be enough people to go on the trip and thankfully there were just enough to fill a mini-bus. At the height of the season they would normally use a 52 seater bus and do trips on several days of the week – and be able to fill it easily! At the time of year that we wanted to go, there was only a handful of people enquiring about it and because there were several nationalities interested in going, interpreters would also need to go. We were split into 2 groups – english and bulgarian people in one and german tourists in the other group. It turned out that it was so much better to go in a mini-bus anyway as the groups were obviously smaller so we would be able to go to more places than the large bus load of visitors. Another bonus of booking the trip in the village is that we were picked up on the main road close to our apartment, instead of having to go into Sunny Beach – we were being picked up at 6.30am!
So Well Organised
There were a couple of people already on the mini-bus when we were collected so there were just a few more to pick up from several hotels in Sunny Beach. This didn’t take too long so by about 7 am we were off on our excursion. It was obviously going to be a long drive (can’t remember exactly how long but it was probably 3 – 4 hours). We stopped at a cafe after a couple of hours or so and enjoyed a welcome comfort break and then continued on to our first destination. I’m afraid I didn’t take enough notice of where the actual places were that we visited …. note to self – write some details down next time!
As well as heading towards the main destination Kazanlak , our day included visiting several tombs. Have a look at the website – it’s very interesting Tomb_of_Kazanlak . We were also taken to a place where there was an amazing church. The photo below doesn’t really do it justice. It can be seen nestling in the hills from a long way out and once you eventually arrive and get closer, you realise how stunning the building is – both inside and out.
As I said before, I wish I’d taken notes of some of the places we visited and then I could have named the photos better – but I didn’t, unfortunately.
The picking season for the roses is early June and this area is famous for its Rose Festival. You can even book a trip to the area and join in with the festivities Kazanlak Festival. A walk around some of the roses was included and then a guided tour to show the process of harvesting the roses to produce the fragrant rose oil. Obviously, if you’re not particularly interested in roses then this isn’t the place to go but we found it fascinating. The ticket price also provided us with a 3-course lunch, which was very pleasant, and then you were given some free time to stroll around and also visit the shop which had a wide range of rose products.
Another Long Drive
After lunch we were also taken to a monument very high up in the hills. As we were in a mini-bus we were able to continue up some of the way without having to climb goodness knows how many steps to reach the very top – had we been in the larger coach we wouldn’t have been able to get as far up as we did (so that was a blessing!). Although when we did get to the top, the view was fantastic …
The Last Visit
Oh I do wish I’d taken more notes of where we went! The interpreter was brilliant – telling us so much about the history of where we had been and it really was very interesting. And because we were such a small party, there was enough time to take us to a place where there was no electricity connected and everywhere was powered by water (at least I remembered that bit!). In some of the buildings you could see how things were made and you were able to buy touristy stuff such as gifts, sweets etc.
We arrived back in Vlas at about 8.15 pm after an exhausting but very enjoyable day out …..