Goodbye Stara Planina

095, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

We got to appreciate the beauty of Stara Planina yesterday as the fog lifted allowing us to go on a couple of hikes. Above, we are at top of one of the many ski runs around the hotel. There was a nice walk through the woods to get to the scenic look out. Behind us is the trail to Midžor, the highest point in Serbia. We’ll save the 8 kilometer hike for the next time we come.

The boys and I did have a successful hike to Babin Zub (Grandmother’s Tooth) through the fog and high winds in the morning. Just as we got to the top, the skies cleared and it was really nice. We did some rock climbing and Owen commented how he felt he was in a National Geographic documentary. The boys were a little scared as we got to the top due to the fog, but we had an easy way down when the winds took away the low clouds.

I can see the potential of this place. It is just as nice as the major Serbian ski resort of Kapoanik. The Austrians are building the infrastructure and in the years to come, the place will fill up. It will be sad if they do it wrongly, and I would had to see the beautiful trees cut down for chalets and lodges. Right now, they are lacking a good highway to get to the hotel, nearby supermarkets, and restaurants, and private accommodation. I am tempted in buying some land up here as an investment. It is really beautiful place to relax and enjoy nature. We will definitely be back, at least, to hike to Midžor.

 

I also highly recommend the Hotel Stara Planina. The staff were very courteous, the facilities were excellent, rooms comfortable, and reasonably priced.

Owen in Front of Babin Zub

Stara Planina

 

Our plans to visit Transylvania didn’t work out for our October Break, so instead we headed the other direction and are visiting the Stara Planina (Old Mountain) national park. The park is located on the border of Serbia and Bulgaria. We are staying at the new ski resort hotel, “Stara Planina” located at 4,800 feet near the village of Konjarnik. When I say new, I mean really new. The hotel opened up last winter and they are still making ski runs and building roads to get here. It is located about 110 km from the southern Serbian city of Niš. It is actually closer to Sofia than Belgrade. The 110 kilometers from Nis to the hotel is rough road, but it was an interesting adventure driving through the dark fog rural countryside. We listened to the Eastern European legend of Baba Jaga, a witch that eats children, to really get in the mood for the day.

We are really enjoying the stay so far. Today we went for a walk up the mountain. We got cut short of our goal to reach “Babin Zub” (Grandmother’s Tooth) due to rain, but the kids loved climbing on the rocks on the way up there. We hope to reach it tomorrow. For those Serbian learners, Baba is grandmother, and the “in” means possession in Serbian. The word zub is tooth. It kind of looks like a granny’s tooth.

I love hiking and really get re-charged by being out in wilderness. The views, despite the rain and clouds, was still beautiful. I’ll be blogging this weekend from here as we explore the region.

Babin Zub mocking us in the background!

There is not much information on-line about the Serbian side of Stara Planina. So far my impressions, besides the natural beauty, is that this part of Serbia is very poor and they speak with a much different accent than Belgrade. I am curious if the area develops into a tourist destination. Right now, it is really tough to get to so they will need to build some more roads and I wonder about the amount of snow they get around here. It is only 120 kilometers from Sofia, and if Serbia puts in a good highway from Nis, it would be easier to get to.

Time to head to the pool with the kids.