Vidin is one of Bulgaria’s oldest riverside towns. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the preserved medieval Bulgarian castle. Today the castle and fortress is a museum. Shawn and I had the morning free, so we decided to go into Vidin and look around. The heat was a factor as it was over 100 degrees and it was difficult walking in the bright sun. We were told there were several impressive churches. Being curious, we set out to find them. The town was very busy, with what looked like, an old car show. We found the first church, St Dimitar Cathedral. Both the exterior and interior were quite striking. It is the second largest church in Bulgaria.
This is St Nikolai Church, the second largest Orthodox church in Vidin. It was built in 1926.
We enjoyed the treeline walk along the river as it was so hot and the shade of the huge trees was welcome. We arrived back in time for a delicious lunch. We had time to rest before our excursion to a private home for a cooking demonstration of Bulgaria’s celebrated pastry called banitsa.
Cooking Demonstration – Banitsa Pastry
I originally thought it was going to be a rustic house on a farm with animals and gardens and we would be baking bread in an outdoor oven. In fact, it was in a well-kept home with a cook who had lived in the United States. The night before I had awakened at 3 am and so by the afternoon, I was feeling very tired. As we entered the home, we were offered a spicy bread and a sip of the national drink called Rakia. It is a clear brandy that can be made from grapes, plums or apricots. It is very strong and a lot of people make their own brandy using the fruit that they grow. I just had a tiny sip. We were then invited into the kitchen/living room to watch the hostess make the banitsa pastry. The hostess had such a soft voice, I had a hard time staying awake. After the hostess showed us how to make the pastry, she invited us to make it. There was a family with adult children who volunteered, so I was happy taking photos of the process. The banitsa was made with phyllo pastry dough, feta or any white cheese, milk, and butter and organized in layers. It can be a dessert as well as a savory dish. The hostess also added a fizzy drink to her recipe.
It was an interesting excursion to visit someone who lived in Bulgaria and to get a peek at their lifestyle. I enjoyed learning how to make a traditional pastry. I plan to try some other versions using the same process. Looking on the internet I found many ways to make it. It was another very hot day and the air condition in the house wasn’t working all that well. We also had an air condition problem on the bus, consequently we were all looking forward to returning to the air conditioned boat.