Ruth: We have spent the last three nights in towns within about 10 kms of each other, but each is located up a different valley and hidden behind deep gorges. The road up the Buinovo Gorge,  that we have been exploring for the past two days, might even rival the Trigrad Gorge that I earlier proclaimed as my best ride ever. I am not travelling with a GoPro but here is a link of  a video showing one of  the narrowest bits. 

Yesterday we visited the Iagodina cave and then climbed up a steep road to spend the night in a town of the same name. I rested while Gord hiked up to the Eagle Eye, a viewpoint cantilevered over a precipice with views in all directions. 

The people in the Rhodopes are so friendly and we have been having fun communicating with them. Sometimes the conversation is carried out completely with google translate and sometimes with the help of a son or daughter who speaks English.  The Rhodopian food has also been a delightful treat. Two of my favourite dishes are Patatnik,  made with grated potatoes, onions and flavoured with spearmint and Tarator, a cold cucumber and yogurt soup. Our hosts in Iagodina sent us off with a large lump of fresh homemade cheese made by grandma from their own cow’s milk. We were again treated to a feast of Rhodopian food here in Kojari.

Gordon:  We went for two interesting hikes today, each a couple of hours in length.  In the morning we walked up from the Iagodina gorge to the Devil’s Bridge.  This is not the Roman bridge of the same name that we thought we were headed for, but a natural arch over a shockingly deep and narrow canyon.  The walk was simply wild: like sections of the West Coast Trail, but with the added exhilaration of rustic Bulgarian engineering, or perhaps like an easy via ferrata without the annoying ropes and carabiners.  It was physically challenging and very beautiful.

This afternoon we walked the five kilometres from our hotel to the Greek border.  The town of Kojari has a pleasant end-of-the-world feel, with rural charm and friendly locals.  Along the way we met a cowherder with a herd of dairy cattle and a pet calf named “Africa”.  The calf was entirely focussed on the cowherder, and bawled when called by his name.  The cowherder gestured that the calf was his great love.
We were curious how the border would be demarcated.  It is a Schengen boundary, and portions of Greece’s northern border are heavily fortified.  As it turned out, the border is just a cutline in the forest, like much of the US – Canada border in B.C.
On this trip we have now cycled 1,850 kms, covering the distance between the borders of the Ukraine and Greece.

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