Gordon: This morning we climbed 300 metres above Dospat and then spent most of the remainder of the day on an undulating plateau at around 1500 metres. It was quite reminiscent of Canada, with a mature conifer forest, a number of lakes, and no towns in the 50 km ride. We did meet about a dozen Bulgarian cyclists, out for tours of four days to a week. Long-distance cyclists are rare in Bulgaria: in three weeks we have met only three other foreigners on bike. This is a shame, as we have found Bulgaria to be an excellent country for cycle touring.
After reaching an elevation of 1667 metres, our high point for the trip, we descended 600 metres through beautiful conifer and beech forests to the town of Batak. This is a pleasant but nondescript town that nonetheless has a prominent place in Bulgarian history. In May, 1876, during the struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, it was the scene of a particularly horrific massacre. About 80 percent of the town, some 5,000 people, were killed by Ottoman irregulars in a saga of deceit and cruelty. (Stomach turning details can be found in the Wikipedia article.) The event is commemorated by a museum in town, as well as two glassed ossuaries in the former church.