I’m not exactly sure when the notion of Birthday Weekend was born. But at some point I was no longer satisfied with a run-of-the-mill one-day birthday bore-fest. I began to stretch the festivities out over two or (wherever possible) three days. Like a festival.
Come to think of it, more than one of my Birthday Weekends has involved buggering off to a random campsite, armed with fancy dress and as much booze as would fit in the car. One memorable year, we celebrated my birthday at the Spirit of Burgas festival, even though we’d only arrived in Bulgaria the day before. (Who needs unpacking or renovating when you can bugger off to a festival on the other side of the country?)
But I’m older now, and my Birthday Weekends are decidedly more sedate. Last year we went to Melnik and enjoyed a dawn hike through the majestic pyramids followed by (lots of) wine tasting at Melnik Winery.
This year, being both old and skint, we stayed closer to home and did a pizza-in-the-garden evening with friends on the Friday, followed by a couple of local hikes on the Saturday.
For the hikes, we started with an ‘eco trail’ that runs from behind Hotel Everest in Etropole up to a peak called Sveti Atanas. ‘Eco trail’ turned out to be a bit of a euphemism as, although it was well marked with blazes, it was really overgrown and we had to fight our way through head-height brambles most of the way. It was also reallyuphill, reminding us (again) how we’ve lost a lot of the fitness we built up for the Rhodope walking holiday last year.
Still, the view from the top was grand. From the peak you can see the main ridge of the Central Stara Planina (Balkan) mountain range. My hips were proper tingling near the edge up there. (Does anyone else have hips that are extremely sensitive to heights??) We had a very sedate, very English picnic of quiche – homemade by Rob – and biscuits on the peak, then tottered down and took another trail, this one much gentler and better maintained, from the hotel over to Etropole monastery.
|View from Sveti Atanas.
|Hiking back down. Etropole visible between the trees.|
And after all that walking, Birthday Sunday was spent mainly complaining about my poor old hips and colouring in evil psychedelic cats. Yeah, that’s right, colouring in evil psychedelic cats in my cat colouring book. My cat colouring book for adults. I still know how to get freaky.
|Keeping busy in the garden while Rob kept a constant supply of prosecco flowing.|
|Hey, man, come check out my groovy commune. I promise not to murder you in your sleep.|