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In between assignments and feeling a bit sluggish, I browsed apathetically at endless pages of spa resorts, hippy dippy places of spirituality and numerous health hotels or exercise regimes cunningly disguised as holidays. I wanted the opportunity to self improve both physically and spiritually, but I wanted it on my terms.
Searching online for something different, I found what I was looking for, with further investigation into the facilities and ‘easy going’ approach at this exclusive mountain retreat firmly clinching the deal. I am a bit of an adventure tourist at times and have enjoyed kayaking and mountain biking, so a venue with activities offered a great alternative to sunbathing and relaxing if I became a bit fidgety. The booking procedure was very simple and the next day I received my booking confirmation and balance of payment invoice. Also attached to my welcome email was a thoughtful booking form, which asked a few simple questions about my personal requirements during my stay, a nice touch. I have never been to a mountain retreat before and although I’m used to traveling alone for both my work and the odd holiday, I must admit to being ever so slightly anxious about being a single woman up a mountain, in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country. Focusing on the positives, I finished packing and headed for departures.
Despite my flight being delayed, I was met at Sofia airport by a friendly Bulgarian gentleman who made up for his lack of English with a warm smile and genuine mannerisms. My driver loaded my luggage into a spacious, executive car and we set off for Kardzhali. The journey was broken up with a brief stop for refreshments and before long we were rolling into Kardzhali town for our rendezvous with my hosts, where I was offered additional refreshments while my luggage was transferred into a land rover for the ‘final ascent’. As we left the town and headed for the mountains, we chatted about Bulgaria, the roads, the weather, work, food and London until the landscape through which we were traveling could be ignored for no longer. I was told the beauty improves as we get deeper into the mountains and after 30 minutes, the breathtaking scenery had almost rendered me speechless! There was no doubt in my mind that the Rhodope Mountains are indeed a special place. Upon arriving at my destination, my choice of mountain retreat was already beginning to surpass my expectations, the location of the house and the views are absolutely stunning. I was soon shown to my accommodation, which was everything I could have hoped for and more.
The self-contained apartment delivered the perfect mix of rustic charm with warm wooden floors and furniture coupled with exceptional cleanliness and a wonderfully spacious shower room. Everything was very well presented and the kitchen was fully stocked with seemingly everything I could possibly need for a week and lots more to boot. Let the detox begin! During the week at my mountain retreat I wanted to achieve a few small goals. So, I needed to eat a balanced diet of fresh organic fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of clean mountain spring water, breathe plenty of the wonderful mountain air, get some daily exercise and vastly improve my lagging suntan while thinking positive thoughts. As the time passed, I started to feel completely at ease with everything in the mountains. The friendly villagers who I passed on my numerous short walks and hikes would wave and smile, my hosts were always available if I needed anything and I really enjoyed the sense of being alone when off on my jaunts even though I was never more than a mile or two from friendly faces.
The sunbathing started on day one and I was shown the top spots for both the views and privacy. Being able to sunbathe completely naked was a must for me and I immediately felt at ease. Lying on my bed that evening, I knew I was already well on my way to a sense of well-being and complete relaxation. During my week in the mountains, I toned up my behind and released burdens from my mind. I laughed, cried, reflected and refreshed my ambitions. I highly recommend a leisurely break in the beautiful Eastern Rhodope Mountains. I looked good, felt fantastic and only regretted that I had to leave my mountain retreat when my time was up.