An hour after leaving Sofia you will became a time traveler. The time passes slowly by, the people are happy and the food is prepared with love. This might be the Bulgarian Yogurt’s well-kept secret. You must try not only the local cuisine. You should visit also the eco trail at Erma river gorge or have a bath in the spring waters in Transka Bankya. Why not to cross the border along the ridge of the mountain Rui too?
Stamen Grigorov is a significant name of the Bulgarian who discovered the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus which is the true cause for the existence of Bulgarian yogurt. He was born in the village Studeni izvor, in Tran municipality. In memoriam was built the Museum of yogurt there.
The Bulgarians from Tran are producing pottery with green glaze. This potteries are the best for the yogurt fermentation. The most famous craftsmen were from Businci. Today in this village you could visit the authentic pottery museum.
In the Middle Ages all this villages were gathered in Znepole area. This region is well-known with its’ hardworking people and delicious cuisine. Its religious center was the Fortress Zelenigrad. After the Ottoman invasion in Bulgarian lands the fortress was destroyed but the village kept its name.
Today the village Zelenigrad is a part of Znepole Renaissance, lands known in nowadays as Kraishte. In the last 50 years the increased industry and urbanization of Sofia causes depopulation of the area. But still the dreams are alive because in Kraishte the locals hand down the traditions.
Zelenigrad is a marvelous place. Among the breathtaking views in the outskirts of Rui peak at Serbian border, you could feel the magic of the rural tourism. This must be a place to visit before you die.
What’s the common between Sofia, bread and a dream for a better world? Eight years ago I met a young girl with dreams for Breadhouses all over the world. Today her dreams are living via the smell of homemade bread following the Bulgarian traditions in bread-preparing.
Nadezhda (*the name means “hope” in Bulgarian) is a synonym of the phrase “to rely on”. Nadezhda Savova-Grigorova gives new life of dreams and builds up bridges. Her husband Stefan Grigorov is an heir of the discoverer of Lactobacillus Bulgaricus.
Nadezhda Savova-Grigorova is PHD in Social Antropology from Princeton University, USA. In 2012 she was a “TRAVELLER OF THE YEAR with worldwide mission”, according to National Geographic. She has crossed five continents due to her “bread’s dreams”. She also built up a unique social model for sharing smiles – the so called “Theater of crumbs”. At Lobosh, the village where her grandmother was born, she founded the first rural Breadhouse in Bulgaria.
Not so long ago Nadezhda opened the Breadhouse “Nadezhko” (*comes from the word “hope” in Bulgarian – a short name for little child) in Sofia. After the long travelling she has returned in Bulgaria and started searching for a job. Nevertheless she had a PHD degree and experience at the beginning it was hard for her to be a professor at the university. She and her husband speak ten languages and are dream employees for every company. But to be able to pay their bills they have to sell at least 200 000 breads every day. Nine month after they started their own business they succeeded to do it.
At the same time they opened a Breadhouse in Lobosh and it is now opened for tourists’ visit. Lobosh is located an hour away from Sofia. After the construction of the Pchelina dam, impressive views, the village was moved but the traditions were kept in the hearts of the locals.
That’s how the old villages in Kraishte are settled with young people who start their own touristic businesses. Zelenigrad is a flagman of their efforts. Now is the moment to visit the region before the big touristic invasion. At the end of the summer the smell, the spirit and the taste couples the Vladimir Dimitrov-The Master’s art. An hour away from Sofia the dreams are vivid.
Author and photos by Gravrail Gavrailov