Hiking across SE EU (then behind the Iron Curtain)
The acronym stands for the South East of the European Union. The author's objective – besides making himself feel happy by doing something for the very pleasure of doing it – is to advertise several rock wonders and hikers' paradises scattered throughout the lesser known – at least to the Westerners – mountainous areas of Romania and Bulgaria.
Despite the better-known Făgăraş being the vastest, highest and most alpine mountains of Romania, the country's third highest peak is Parîngul Mare
in the Parîng (Parâng) Mountains, several dozen km west of the Făgăraş. And a little further west, across the River Jiu rise the Retezat Mts
- both ranges are over 2,500 metres high. To the south-west of the Retezat stand the Mehedinţi Mts – relatively low but stunning karst terrain.
SP pages on the Rila and the magnificent marble ridge of the Pirin
are expanding fast but much less can be found on the granite Pirin – a fabulous hiking area that teems with crags and ridges to climb, picturesque lakes, brooks full of potable water. You can round the Pirin trek off with a day or two in the tiny town of Melnik, whose badlands resemble the southwestern US. And while stopping over in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, you might still/already feel hard rock on the mountain of Vitosha, just on the outskirts of the city.
Bigger Critters Little Critters
I hope I can see some of those places again someday. These pics of mine were taken in 1977-81 on transparency film (see the note at my Spitsbergen album
It wasn't until the 1990s that the average citizen of Poland was allowed to see the West of Europe, or other continents. Even the then Yugoslavia, its communist leaders not on good terms with the Kremlin, was barely within reach
. So when I was at university, I would board a train bound south-east and spend much of the summer – actually August
since July tends to be very rainy – trekking in the mountains of Romania and Bulgaria. And I loved it.