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Close, yet far

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Right north of Sofia, half an hour by train, about 1,50 leva, is the small village Vlado Trichkov. Spread over the hillsides of the Balkan mountain range, of which the tops can be seen from Sofia itself.​ It's so close. Yet, if you're there, it feels as if you're far away from the city. The Sofia valley is literally behind the hills. The village is so close that it's often overlooked, even by the Sofians. Yet, there's plenty of opportunity to hike. You can make excellent day trips or, as I do, go just for the afternoon. Go enjoy a sunset from one of the hills overlooking the village. It's a calm place, yet it feels wild. It's close to Sofia, so there's really nothing that should stop you from at least paying a visit. And, there's so much more to explore in the Iskar gorge starting from this point. It's a 70 kilometre long gorge that will leave you impressed at the very least.

What's Vlado Trichkov about?

The town is named, not surprisingly, after Vlado Trichkov (linked page in Bulgarian). He was born in Tran, Western Bulgaria, in 1899. He was a Partizan (freedom fighter), a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party, and helped prepare the September 1923 Uprising. He also took part in the communist resistance movement during the Second World War. He was killed in Gorno Kamartsi, near Pirdop, Bulgaria, in a gunfight with the police.

The village is located at 17 kilometres from Sofia and has about 1300 residents. It's situated at an altitude of 600 metres. If you come by train and leave the station, on your right hand, you will find you can cross the river Iskar by several rope bridges. There's dense forests to explore with a few villas scattered around. On the right side, the hills are rather steep. If you go left of the station instead, you'll have to head up steeply first. You get into the heart of the village. After that, you can continue onwards into the hills that are not too steep to climb. Vlado Trichkov consists of several neighbourhoods that were once separate villages. As you head west, you can follow this route, you'll get uphill. It's a stunning plateau full of pine trees that give off a lovely smell.

If you follow the route I mentioned right above, which I hiked myself, you will get to the area of the village Tseretsel. A place that only few people have heard of, even in Sofia. In terms of surface, it's one of the largest villages of the country. It consists of 41 neighbourhoods, reaching from close to village Katina all the way to Svoge. The Wikipedia article of Tseretsel speaks of 1953, when the village had 260 houses and 1260 people. Now, you can count the number of residents on your hands. Most residents were miners. There were two schools for the children but these have been closed long ago. The population heavily decreased and the Wikipedia article, that mentions the strings of street lights lightening up the hillsides, is one of the few sources we have. Nowadays, if you walk around the scattered neighbourhoods, you'll feel rather lost. If you follow the hike I made, you will get past several abandoned settlements. It's a rather sad sight but it must be said; the nature is beautiful. You might very well stick around Vlado Trichkov, buy a beer in a store, walk uphill and enjoy the scenery. There are a few places to eat and drink around the village, yet these are basic. You might as well bring something from Sofia and enjoy it outside, if the weather permits.

How to get to Vlado Trichkov

Trains are regular, check and simply enter 'Sofia' and 'Vlado Trickov'. A train ticket will cost you about 1,50 leva. Feel free to explore any other village after Vlado Trichkov as well; Tserovo, Gara Bov and of course Svoge city itself are all worth a visit! Should you have the time, Lakatnik is definitely worth a day as well. For more information about the area, check The Svoge Area and Hiking around Sofia.

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