Hike to Bouzli or how to get successfully lost

When I tell to people I live in Shipka they all are astonished, asking me what on Earth  I’m doing here. Maybe Shipka is not top 1st destination for tourists in Bulgaria, but here are many monuments and interesting things to see and it is becoming more and more popular to visit. One of the monuments which is very popular for tourists, is definitely Bouzludja. With its unique form and former function, in the middle of the mountain is surely attractive for the visitors from all over the world.

If you take a bus from Kazanlak to Shipka and you are a kind of a person who likes to observe the countryside while travelling, there is no doubt you will notice a very strange building high in the mountains, which doesn’t seem from this planet. Its peculiar form attracts a lot of looks and most common question is: what the hell is this building?

So let me explain the story of our ingenious walk to the famous UFO. One day after we have arrived to our project in Shipka, our mentor took us to the monument, but I didn’t know we could enter it, so I felt a very big desire to come back and see it again, also the insides. There came the opportunity around two months ago when our friends, volunteers from another Bulgarian cities came to Shipka with the purpose to see the famous Bouzludja (and maybe also to visit us). As I like hiking in the mountains and really miss it here in Bulgaria, I thought it would be nice to go there by foot, but not all of us showed the same enthusiasm for the idea. As I also had a dog I really wanted to go walking and finally two girls decided to join me. The others went by hitch-hiking. As we started to walk around 11.00 in the morning, we were sure we will have enough of time to calmly come back to the town. The way was pretty long (around 4 hours in one direction) and it became even longer with some raining, many stops and Molly’s lovely barking at the motorcyclists. Finally around 16.00 o’clock we reached the peak and the monument. We tied Molly (the dog) to the tree below the top, as she couldn’t be free because of her peaceful character and we continued our adventure with the echo of her barking which was present all the time we spent at Bouzli (my cute version of a name for Bouzludja).

When you reach the building and you go towards the left side of the main entrance, which is currently closed for the visitors, considered as dangerous, you will find two holes in the floor. Don’t get scared, they are not traps for you to get stuck and become a food for spirits of communists, but they are simply a bit less legal entrances made by visitors (I suppose), eager to enter the building. You know how the human beings are, all forbidden is very appealing. Me and Leti (one of my Spanish friends who went with me) entered, but Patricia waited outside as she didn’t feel very good and secure. We took the left hole which we considered easier, but normally people say the other one is more pleasant. As you enter the hole, you have to climb some pipes (maybe not the easiest part) and then follow through the “door” (just the upper part of the “door” is open) to the staircase and finally you are saved (I mean you are inside the building, not necessarily saved as the roof is in horrible condition and you are waiting all the time what will fall on your head). We were enjoying the old and mysterious insides of Bouzludja after an adventurous entrance that we both survived and of course made some pictures. The building itself is in a pretty bad condition as there is nobody who would take care of the renovation plan and you can feel the passing of the time that the walls has been breathing all those years. It takes you to another time and space, imagining everything new, nice and fancy, full of the communist officials discussing and making “important” decisions.

On our way back, which we started around 17.00, we successfully got lost and we still don’t know how it’s possible, as we followed the same path we came from. Somehow we found another “path” which we realized it was not a path but we heard the river so the logical thing seemed to follow the river as we knew there was one just beside the correct way. Soon we discovered that was another river, gave up pretending and officially admitted that we were lost and we didn’t have a clue how to go back. We tried to maintain the positive thinking but it seemed impossible when it started to get dark and we were 2.5 hours from Shipka town and an hour from the Shipka Monument which is in quite different direction that we should go. As we were tired, we didn’t have any warm clothes or food, we made a reasonable decision to go to the Shipka peak and called my boss to pick us up there. Finally my flat mate came to pick us at 21.00 and it was like to see an oasis in the desert. We almost started to cry and we were hugging each other as we wouldn’t see each other for a year. In reality it was just half of a day (a very long day). When we arrived home, the dinner was already prepared by the rest of our friends who were eagerly waiting for us to come (I am not sure if because of the dinner or the concern).  They treated us as we would have special needs and they didn’t let us do anything but forced us to seat down at the table and served the dinner. Sometimes is good to get lost, it was definitely worthy. Now we at least can say we made the hiking way from Bouzludja to Shipka Monument, although it was not intentionally. When I see both monuments in the mountains with quite some of a distance between them, I won’t deny that I feel almost as a national hero (don’t want to compare myself with Vasil Levski or Hristo Botev, don’t take it literaly).

I am sure this visit of Bouzludja was definitely the most remarkable for me, but in total I was there for four times (never again by feet). Sometimes I feel that I live there. Actually my intention is to go at least for ten times and to make a record. Maybe I will appear in Bulgarian newspapers as a person which has visited Bouzludja most times. It would be very cool, right? I want to beat Teodor Zhivkov and his communist friends and make them jealous. I am almost 100 percent sure they never went there by foot.


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