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4 days and 3 nights at Rjana Open Air

Lyudmila Racheva

For the 4th year in a row the Funkadelia organizers took us to the village of Ignatitsa, about 100 km away from Sofia, and lifted us on 1500 m above the sea level on a big meadow in Rjana Mountain. From July 08 (Thursday) to July 11 (Sunday) 2010 we enjoyed not only the mountain nature, but also various styles of electronic music that presented to us Rjana Open Air festival.

More than 30 DJs were playing day and night, non-stop, in the course of four days. In the evenings and nights there was dance music, from 8.00 am until late afternoon the music was relaxing and refreshing.

Almost unknown Rjana Mountain with its highest peak Koznitsa (1636 m) is a distinctly separated part of Western Stara planina Mountain (Balkan mountain range). On the North Rjana Mountain is detached from Vratsa Mountain by Iskar Gorge, and Gabrovnitsa and Milkovitsa rivers separate it from Golema planina and Murgash mountains.

The village of Ignatitsa is situated right in the foot of Rjana mountain. High on the hills are located the last houses. Ignatitsa is one of the 27 villages of Mezdra municipality that is situated on 270 m above the sea level in Vratsa district, in the North-Western part of Bulgaria. The relief of the region is hilly, featuring numerous plains, forests and farm lands.

The only official road to Ignatitsa starts from the village of Zverino (5 km). You can get to Zverino by car or by train from Sofia (80 km). The dirt road from Ignatitsa to the festival place (12 km) is not passable by car, that’s why the organizers provided us two trucks. The transportation (train-bus-trucks) was scheduled, so we had to consider this.

On Thursday we already had a good plan to catch the train from Sofia at 2 pm. As a result we were late for the train at 7:10 pm – we got on at the last moment, we couldn’t get tickets, so we had to buy them from the conductor. In about an hour and a half we were in Zverino village. It was around 8.30 pm and it was getting dark. “Once again we’ll set up our tent in the dark” – I told to myself. I was still a bit annoyed by the delayed and dusty rush in Sofia.

People that came for the festival were serene and obviously tipped. Everything was under the reign of pre-holiday fuss. Being immediately boarded on the bus, we set off to Ignatitsa village.

When we reached the village we met other people waiting for the truck to ride us to the “Holy Grail”. The thirst for alcohol was increasingly rising so we hurried up to the local grocery. There we found other people waiting like us and we lined on a long queue, perhaps the first one for this year. We took a beer and started to chat with the people outside. Unnoticeably the irritation that I came with from Sofia gradually dissolved in the low alcohol beer.

In a while we heard a mighty whir and a big old Russian military six-wheel truck stopped next to us. In a second everybody stirred up and started to drag their luggage. There were a lot of people and the truck was only one, that’s why a precise loading of people and luggage started.

The tetris of the precise loading continued about 20 minutes and as a result we were zipped so much that I felt like I was united with the others, the luggage and the truck.

At last we felt the vibrations of the Russian machine – the truck slowly set off uphill along the dirt road. It was already dark, people were overexcited – some of them screamed aimlessly, others carried on smart conversations about European Union, sex, the Universe and everything else.

Little by little we moved up in the mountain, the village lights gradually disappeared, only the light from flashlights and headlights remained.

The crowd’s noise didn’t stop. Suddenly we heard resonant slaps – the branches of the wayside trees were trying to bring the ravers to reason. But the effect was reverse – the euphoria just reinforced. The girl next to me opened a cool box and took out a bottle of cold anisette …

When I felt strong intoxication, we heard the sound of electronic music far off. In a little while we reached the place, people stood up gradually and with an invasive cry greeted Rjana Open Air festival.

The first thing we noticed on the festival place was several 2-meters long illuminated in the dark mushrooms – obviously not of natural origin. Drum and bass run wild around and walking with a rhythmical step we started to look for a place for our tent. The night was long.

The whole Friday afternoon we lay on the meadow under the strong mountain sun. When we went once again to the fountain with fresh water we entered into conversation with our friends and a local boy who took part in the fest organization. We mentioned that the night before we took the wrong path in the darkness and we didn’t find the fountain. We pointed the path and the local boy told us that 5-6 km in that direction up in the mountain there were wide meadows where we could see wild horses. “Wild horses?!” – We were really surprised. I had never even thought of seeing wild horses at an electronic music festival. “Are there any other animals?” – Slightly ironically asked my boyfriend. “Oh, yes!” – replied the boy with serious hypnotic voice.

He told us a story that his friends experienced. Dark night. Dense wood. People sat over the fire. From the bushes two wolf eyes greedily watched the intelligent morsels of meat. The morsels got scared and became to wave burning branches in the air. The eyes vanished. But they appeared again soon … And once again burning branches were waving in the air. This continued till early morning.

My boyfriend continued to ask: “Are there wood-nymphs?” “The nymphs are down in the village.” - Slightly ironically replied the boy. “I see” – I said with meditatively voice. I imagined battle scenes of how a pack of wolves pursued studs of riding wood-nymphs or vice-versa. I decided to stop with the fancies and suggested my boyfriend that we go for a beer.

To our great surprise the kitchen of the festival was very good: home-made peasant dishes, mushroom soup, salads, tarator (traditional Bulgarian cold soup made of yogurt and cucumbers), home-made cake, as well as fast-food – hot-dogs and burgers. There were a bar and a tea-house.

Friday night was dedicated to techno music. My boyfriend fell asleep immediately – he is good at this. I just took a nap. At 8:00 am I crept out of the tent broken to pieces and went to see the program and check when the techno beats would be over. There were a lot of sleeping people right on the meadow, it seemed like some of them were lying down and resting, whilst others had simply collapsed.

This morning we decided to keep to our plans and hit the trail to search the wild horses. We walked along the path through the thick shadow of the beech forest. The deeper we went into the forest, the more silent it became around. We enjoyed the silence. After one turn the forest suddenly was over and an enormous space with wide sunny meadows and countless hills with foggy tops opened in front of us.

We decided to climb up. We reached the top of one of the hills, from which there opens a view like one from an airplane. Far away in the lowland the outlines of the villages were clearly visible. We were surrounded by mountains and thick forests. Somewhere in the open space we noticed a paraglider. We were alone in a complete silence. From time to time enthusiasts tore along the hills on their jeeps and motorbikes, trying to see how fast and how far they could go.

We sat on a wide meadow dotted with tutsan, thyme, campanulas, blackberries and other well-known and unknown flowers and plants. We ate handfuls of blueberries and wild strawberries. There was a wide variety of insects and animals - from grasshoppers to scorpions. Big and small multicoloured butterflies flied round and perched on us.

All this convinced us that Rjana mountain has rich and diverse flora and fauna, the nature here is wild and almost untouched.

The sky above changed fast and continuously: black rainy clouds and fog alternated with small white clouds, with blue sky and vigorous sun. Although all the time we expected it would rain heavily a single drop didn't fall down.

Being alone amidst the wild nature 8 hours passed before we even realized it. We returned to the festival place to see the only live performance of “Oratnitsa” musical band. Saturday evening was the busiest: apart from the newly arrived people by the truck, quite a few local people came by motorbikes and cars.

The music style of the band is a unique combination of Bulgarian folklore and an electronic sound. The electronic sound is produced by didgeridoo (Horhe) and by percussion - cajon, drum (Pesho - Bunny), Hristian takes part with kaval (wooden flute) and the folklore vocalist of the group is Ivan (the Pope). You can find their music here: Oratnitza

The live music was followed by the electronic break beat that later proceeded to trance. Abstract and concrete visualizations appeared in constant succession on big white inflatable balls, thin green lasers pierced the space and formed numbers of flying spots on the trees.

The surrealistic picture was followed by a fire show that burned the alcohol in our blood. Once we got tired we went to our tent and we didn't wake up until the morning.

The first trucks arrived, but we decided to walk down on foot. Breathtaking panoramic views over the village and the hills opened on our way along the picturesque path. We arrived at the village of Ignatitsa after an hour and a half (the distance from the fest place to Ignatitsa village is 12 km).

While sitting on the staircases of the library in the small centre of the village and waiting for a bus to Zverino village we missed the last train to Sofia, but learned a lot about the village and the region.

From time immemorial the countless wide meadows of Rjana mountain gather people for festivals. Very popular for the region is the “obrok” ritual. The ritual involves an animal sacrifice (usually a lamb) for health and prosperity. The places for the ritual are named “Obrok” as well. The places are usually wide beautiful meadows marked with crosses made of a red stone called “bigor”. The local people of Ignatitsa village have seventeen “obroks”.

Distanced from the highways the village of Ignatitsa is situated in a clean mountain region that is suitable for ecological and rural tourism, mountain biking, ATV and trekking. Each family in the village has a motorbike or a jeep.

In 2009 10 bike trails with gps tracks for beginners as well as for advanced bikers were marked in Mezdra municipality. You can check the 10 trails and read a detailed information here: Bike trails.

We were lucky to hitch-hike to the town of Mezdra where we caught the train to Sofia. On our way our driver told us about the landmarks of the region: The historic Cherepish Monastery, “Ritlite” - four unique-shaped stone walls stand in parallel on both sides of the river Iskar, the historic place and park “Rashov Dol”, the fortress “Kaleto”, “Sedemte Prestola” monastery, the highest peak of Rjana mountain - Koznitsa(1636 m) and the historical peak Okolchitsa. There is even a hotel complex with an Aqua park in the village of Zverino.

The local people were right saying “Oh, you haven't seen anything yet”, when they asked us where we had been and what we had done. That's why next time we'll follow the bike trails or trekking routs to explore the beautiful region of Rjana mountain and the gorge of Iskar river.



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Properties in Sofia by Suprimmo.net

Properties in Sofia by Suprimmo.net