A woman traveling alone all the way from Holland to Bulgaria! And sleeping in a monastery! Villagers, visitors, and monks marveled, for although the small mountain cloister had held its doors open for decades, most lodgers were native families.
The Orthodox monastery near the village of Bachkovo, Bulgaria, founded by Georgian monks in 1083, had been plundered in the name of Allah, liberated in the name of the czar and was now very much in order under the Soviet state, both as monastery and hostelry.
Sacred and secular mingled within the same walls that had secluded seventeenth-century monks from worldly things. Four long, white stucco buildings with wooden galleries and grated windows enclosed the courtyard with chapel and fountains. Over the broken cobblestones chickens, geese, lambs, and pigs wandered about among the tourists, monks, and priests.