A tour across Pirin and Rila – local crafts, tastes and new energy

Daily Tour 2 days Availability: 2021-10-02
2770 Bansko, Bulgaria Southwest Tour Guide: Ekaterina Terzieva

What can connect the famous nafpavok sausage, the unique colorful Banitsa socks, and embroidered aprons, the Bansko “kapama”, the Persian carpets for the Palace of Versailles, the sheep and goat cheese, the horseback riding in the mountains, the church in Dobarsko and the falling of couscous? All these local dishes, old crafts, and traditions are included in the program of our new gastronomic and cultural tour “A tour across Pirin and Rila – local crafts, tastes and new energy”, which will transport us like a magic carpet in the secrets of history and local tastes.

Deshka Kroteva – a guardian of the traditions from Gorno Draglishte, who managed to turn her native village in the Razlog region into a small capital of rural tourism, will treat us to delicious local dishes. On October 2, at her house in Gorno Draglishte, she and her neighbors, better known as the “Naughty Grandmothers”, will greet us with folk music and songs, dress us in traditional local costumes, water us and feed us, and tell us funny stories.

Deshka Kroteva is among the seven hosts – producers of farm food, owners of horses, goats, sheep, knitters of embroidered socks and aprons, healers with riding and masters of traditional dishes from the Pirin and Rila mountains, who will cook, give us experience and they will inspire us with their stories and food. And this time the experiences will be in many beautiful places – Bansko, Kostandovo, the villages of Dobarsko, Gorno Draglishte, Bachevo, Breznitsa, and Banichan, and the hosts will tell their stories and show the romantic and harsh side of their mountain region.

Place of departure / arrival

Departure hours07.00 from Plovdiv, 07.45 from Pazardzhik. For travelers from Plovdiv – a departure from the bus stop to UBB on Tsar Boris Obedinitel Blvd. opposite the Ramada Trimontium Hotel. For travelers from Pazardzhik – a departure from the bus stop opposite the parking lot of the hypermarket “Billa” at 12 Georgi Benkovski Street

The price of the tour includes

  • Breakfast
  • Two lunches
  • Dinner
  • Overnight
  • Tasting of organic goat cheese
  • Tasting of Banichan “banitsa”
  • Tasting of sheep cheese and sheep yogurt
  • Demonstration of making sheep cheese
  • Demonstration of carpet weaving in Kostandovo
  • Demonstration of couscous rolling in Breznitsa
  • Demonstration of sock knitting in Banichan
  • Transport
  • Entrance fees for the museums visited
  • Full tour guide service
  • Tourist insurance

The price of the tour does not include

  • Horseback riding

Opportunity to purchase

Opportunity to buy fresh and natural farm products (various types of tahini, honey, wine, canned vegetables, milk, cheese, and yellow cheese) at producer prices.


What to expect?

What can connect the famous nafpavok sausage, the Bansko “kapama”, the unique colorful Banichan socks and embroidered aprons, the Persian carpets for Versailles, the sheep, and goat cheese, the horseback riding in the mountains, the church in Dobarsko, and the falling of couscous? All these local dishes, old crafts, and traditions are included in the program of our new gastronomic and cultural tour “A tour across Pirin and Rila – local crafts, tastes and new energy”, which will transport us like a magic carpet in the secrets of history and local tastes.

Deshka Kroteva – a guardian of the traditions from Gorno Draglishte, who managed to turn her native village in the Razlog region into a small capital of rural tourism, will entertain us with these local dishes. Nafpavok – one of the biggest secrets, shrouded in mysticism, old stories, and wood ashes, is the name of a famous local sausage, similar to the “Banski starets”, but with different techniques and spices. On October 2, at her house in Gorno Draglishte, she and her neighbors, better known as the Naughty Grandmothers, will greet us with folk music and songs, dress us in traditional local costumes, water, and feed us, and tell us so much funny stories that we will want to come back here again.

Deshka Kroteva is among the seven hosts – producers of farm food, owners of horses, goats, sheep, knitters of embroidered socks and aprons, healers with riding, and masters of traditional dishes from the Pirin and Rila mountains, who will cook, pass on experience and inspire us. with their stories and food. And this time the experiences will be in many beautiful places – Bansko, Kostandovo, the villages of Dobarsko, Gorno Draglishte, Bachevo, Breznitsa, and Banichan, and the hosts will tell their stories and show the romantic and harsh side of their mountain region.

The journey begins on October 2 with a visit to Kostandovo, where hand-woven carpets have been preserved in their pure form. The skillful hands of about 30 women spin, cut, and turn the yarn into works of art that adorn the Palace of Versailles, the summer residence Osborne House of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the homes of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Jane Churchill – granddaughter of Winston Churchill, Mick Jagger.

In Bansko we will visit the smallest goat farm in Bulgaria, and its owners will treat us with organic cheese and yogurt, pie, and the traditional among Bansko and Pirin region specialty Banska kapama. Our journey continues with a walk and a guided talk in the Pirin capital Bansko. We will visit the Church of the Holy Trinity (1835) – one of the symbols of the town, which until before the construction of the cathedral “St. Alexander Nevsky ”in Sofia was the largest church in Bulgaria. The native homes of the Bulgarian Revival writer Neofit Rilski, as well as of the poet Nikola Vaptsarov are also located in Bansko. One of the theories is that the author of “Slavo-Bulgarian History” Paisii Hilendarski was born here.

In the afternoon in the village of Dobarsko we will visit the late medieval church “St.St. Theodore Tyrone and Theodore Stratilat ”(XVII century) – one of the brightest examples of art and Christian culture in our country, for which the people of Dobarsko started a subscription for inclusion in the list of cultural monuments under the protection of UNESCO. In Dobarsko we are also waiting for the family of the veterinarian Dr. Ivana Kotsakova – a family of breeders who raise sheep and cows and have a closed production cycle. The oldest woman in the family will show us how to make the traditional sheep cheese for this region. The dinner is with traditional dishes prepared by Deshka Kroteva in Gorno Draglishte. In the evening, the cute “Naughty Grandmothers”, dressed in traditional costumes, will entertain us and teach us the local dialect of Razlog.

The second day of the tour is dedicated to local crafts in the Pirin region. The women in the village of Breznitsa will show us how to “roll” couscous. Its preparation is an old tradition, almost forgotten in our country in recent years. Couscous sessions used to be not only for their preparation but also a place for exchanging love signs and vows – a handkerchief, beaded jewelry, or candy as a sign of shared love. Maidens often molested their fiancés after a couscous sitting, and then called them “grabnushi.”

In Banichan the local hosts will welcome us with the typical for the region pie and will show us the magic of embroidering their famous colorful socks. Only here the tradition of knitting socks has been preserved for centuries, as the combination of colors and ornaments conveys information about the way of life, the worldview of the former Bulgarians, Christian beliefs, family, morals, human relationships. There are as many as 9 models of banitsa socks – “apneites”, “packs”, “cat steps”, “caps”, “locks”, “turkeys”, “blue”, “stars”. The models that have passed through the centuries are still preserved today – they are different because some are only for girls, others for married women, for the elderly, for women and men. The village of Banichan also has a unique map, embroidered by hand and reproducing an exact cartographic copy of Banichan.

We will meet the people and stories behind:

  • The factory for hand weaving of carpets in Kostandovo
  • The smallest organic goat farm in Bulgaria
  • The family of Ivana Kotsakova, who live four months a year without electricity and water in a pen in the mountains to raise their flocks of sheep
  • The church in the village of Dobarsko, where the blinded Samuel’s warriors passed
  • Deshka Kroteva – the queen of rural tourism in Razlog and the only guardian of the recipe for nafpavok
  • Horse base for hippotherapy – treatment by horseback riding
  • The falling of couscous and the love sittings for its preparation in the village of Breznitsa
  • The embroidery of colorful socks and aprons in the village of Banichan

Маршрут

Day 1: From the carpets in Versailles to the Bansko kapama [/ su_heading]

The journey begins with a visit to Kostandovo, where the hand weaving of carpets has been preserved in its pure form. The skillful hands of about 30 women spin, cut and turn the yarn into works of art that adorn the Palace of Versailles, the summer residence Osborne House of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the homes of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Jane Churchill – granddaughter of Winston Churchill, Mick Jagger.

In Bansko we will visit the smallest goat farm in Bulgaria, and its owners will treat us with organic cheese and yogurt, pie, and the traditional at Bansko and Pirin region specialty Banska kapama. Our journey continues with a walk and a guided talk in the Pirin capital Bansko. We will visit the Church of the Holy Trinity (1835) – one of the symbols of the town, which until before the construction of the cathedral “St. Alexander Nevsky ”in Sofia was the largest church in Bulgaria. The native homes of the Bulgarian Revival writer Neofit Rilski, as well as of the poet Nikola Vaptsarov are also located in Bansko. One of the theories is that the author of “Slavo-Bulgarian History” Paisii Hilendarski was born here.

In the afternoon in the village of Dobarsko, we will visit the late medieval church “St.St. Theodore Tyrone and Theodore Stratilat ”(XVII century) – one of the brightest examples of art and Christian culture in our country, for which the people of Dobarsko started a subscription for inclusion in the list of cultural monuments under the protection of UNESCO. In Dobarsko we are also waiting for the family of the veterinarian Dr. Ivana Kotsakova – a family of breeders who raise sheep and cows and have a closed production cycle. The oldest woman in the family will show us how to make the traditional sheep cheese for this region.

We stay for dinner and overnight at Deshka Kroteva in Gorno Draglishte. The dinner is with traditional dishes for this region, prepared by Deshka on a wood stove – barren pie, sui peppers, waiting. We will have a special tasting of the famous nafpavok sausage, similar to the “Bansko starets”, but with different techniques and spices. In the evening, the nice group “Naughty Grandmothers” will greet us with folk music and songs will dress us in traditional local costumes, will cheer us up, and teach us the local dialect of Razlog.

Day 2: Rolling couscous, banitsa socks and a horse in the mountains [/ su_heading]

The second day of the tour is dedicated to local crafts in the Pirin region. After breakfast, the women in the village of Breznitsa will show us how to “roll” couscous. Its preparation is an old tradition, almost forgotten in our country in recent years. Couscous sessions used to be not only for their preparation but also a place for exchanging love signs and vows – a handkerchief, beaded jewelry, or candy as a sign of shared love. Maidens often molested their fiancés after a couscous sitting, and then called them “grabnushi.”

In Banichan the local hosts will welcome us with the typical for the region pie and will show us the magic of embroidering their famous colorful socks and aprons, called here pistachios. Only here the tradition of knitting socks has been preserved for centuries, as the combination of colors and ornaments conveys information about the way of life, the worldview of the former Bulgarians, Christian beliefs, family, morals, human relationships. There are as many as 9 models of banitsa socks – “apneites”, “packs”, “cat steps”, “caps”, “locks”, “turkeys”, “blue”, “stars”. The models that have passed through the centuries are still preserved today – they are different because some are only for girls, others for married women, for the elderly, for women and men. The village of Banichan also has a unique map, embroidered by hand and reproducing an exact cartographic copy of Banichan. The map is unusual because it uses 23 unique and typical for the village embroidery relics, which are found in ancient costumes. This is how the ancient embroidered memory of the village is preserved.

At noon we arrive in the village of Bachevo – the equestrian capital of Bulgaria. Horses and riding are a symbol of the village, and the horse is an element of the local coat of arms, so we go to the horse base “Perivolas”, where the Nakovi family has been breeding horses for years. Through the so-called hippotherapy (therapeutic horseback riding) help children with various diseases such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, dyslexia, spinal deformities, autism. The name of the base comes from the nearby area and translated from Persian means “beautiful view, beautiful place”. Nakovi will treat us to local dishes prepared on-site at the horse base. We will be able to ride in nature and enjoy the crystal clear mountain air and the view of the Pirin Mountains.

In the bosoms of the Pirin and Rila mountains, life flows at a different pace. The beauty of nature and the big hearts of the locals take us on a fabulous journey far into the past.

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