Discovering Little Gems

IMG_7263Recently, my husband was invited to present his books in SUNBGURLARE – a small town positioned in the southern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. He had never been there and we enjoyed walking round it.  Unfortunately, we could not get into the Church, beautifully restored, according to our hosts, but we were taken to see an attractive old house, which was nominally a Museum of Viticulture, but in fact much more than that!

As in and around the town there are several vineries – large and small, the viticulture is very important in this area.  The wine from Sungurlare had been extremely well known in Bulgaria and abroad for many years and continues to be sold extremely well!IMG_7267

In fact, as a young teach in the English Language School in Burgas, one of the first trips I went on with the students, was on grape-picking brigade in Sungurlare!  Every evening, we would take a lorrry-ful of grapes to the wine producing plant and the teachers were often rewarded with a drink of cold vermouth, strait from the “tap”. Good time was had by all!

IMG_7268Besides an exposition of the history of viticulture in the area, in the museum house, there is a good exposition of the life in a peasant house, with the furniture, examples of folk costumes, homemade cotton material, sown into handsome towels, blouses, decorational tablecloths, etc. There were beautiful examples of carpets, clothes and other woven woollen materials.  There were also examples of weaving, wool processing tools, gardening tools and many others!

But the best was still to come!  In the basement of the house, the town had created an icon gallery – the icons, salvages from a demolished church. The images were beautiful and very much deserving a wider audience.  I asked my hosts why they were not organising wine tastings in this house for tourists, which will also be supported by the lovely museum and the icon gallery! There are three vineries in the town, all with wonderful wine production – we have drunk wine form all of them! Let us hope that this idea will be put into practice soon!IMG_7272






















On our way back we were caught by a ferocious hurricane storm, with large pieces of ice-stones “raining” from the sky… The land around us was IMG_7295white with ice, the winds were tempestuous and it was barely possible to drive.  We stopped several times, but then, continued slowly, hoping to outrun the storm.  Eventually we came down form the Balkan mountain in KARNOBAT, with the view of getting to the motorway.  Down in the low of the town, we drove into a high pool of water, reaching the middle of the doors of the car.  The engine stopped twice.  On every occasion, the car, which had 3 passengers, and loaded with books and luggage was bobbing up and down floating at the passage of every large lorry by us! It was scary!! After some time, the engine lit again and eventually we came out to higher ground where there was no water.  When we went to the motorway – there was not even a sign of rain – the road was completely dry !

IMG_7298Will remember this trip!