We started the day road tripping to Plovdiv and spent the day there. Enjoying wandering around such a beautiful town and indulging in some fancy day time cocktails and unique food like frogs legs and liver. We decided to make the extra trip to Buzludzha, a communist monument less than 2 hours from us. We went from small town to smaller town, enjoying the little significant landmarks and cute landscapes shining in the intense sun. Then all of sudden, all hell broke loose in a storm. Aggressive rain poured down and quickly turned to hail. Not a few frozen drops – the kind of giant rocks that forced us to pull over because the smashing against the car sounded like we were being shot at (I would know, I’ve shot a sniper rifle). Eventually it lightened up and we continued our drive, until we reached the important part.
Driving up the squiggle roads (our adopted technical term) we climbed the mountain, each time so high that every ledge looked like it led to the abyss. We arrived at the “abandoned Communist UFO” and it was on a very grand scale. We were miniscule in comparison to the height this monument stood at. Circling round it, we saw the beautiful various styles of street art covering the base. Then we reached the “entrance”; the rumoured tiny, dangerous and claustrophobic hole in the ground that lead inside.
I looked into the hole and paused. I did not hesitate for one second for bungee jumping, paragliding or skydiving, but this….this had no guarantee. No guarantee that I’d be okay, in fact it was the opposite because so much was ready to go wrong. When I say wrong I mean claustrophobic fix, serious injury or fatal fall on the remains of construction. I may have been with pros used to this risk but I’d grown up on instructors and harnesses. If I’m honest, my personal pride and adventurous curiosity was at stake. I am a risk taker, thrill seeker, danger lover. I’m the person that goes down that hole because my heart needs to know – what if?
So I did it, I agreed to go in. With the help of new friends/heroes, I clambered down large distances into the collapsed in hole, steadying myself on metal spikes and broken concrete. The guys were incredible in holding me tight the whole time and making me *know* I was safe. I dropped down the several levels and had achieved the underground stage of the discovery. My heart was pumping and adrenaline punching my chest, but I had made it. We ventured through the debris, through the dank tunnels, up the destroyed stairs and through the amphitheatre remains. Then came the view, the view that made it all worth it. I climbed up and dangled my feet over the edge of the monument, looking down at my ant sized friends. I was shaking from the high of the situation, grinning and nervous laughing, saying I was “on top of the world”. We soaked in what we had achieved together, somehow the best experience of my life.
As I sat over the edge I was peaceful, quiet and swinging my feet….that was until my shoe fell off, falling who knows how far, disappearing into the fields. This began the ‘oh no, I’m screwed’ portion of the trip. Luckily my heroes came to the rescue again and we bundled up my bare foot in 4 socks and my wrapped up hoodie. We began the even more dangerous route back. With the sun setting, our light was fading fast. I limped through broken glass, puddles, over giant rocks and fallen in ceiling. We made it to the exit and for the large climb up the wall on unsteady structures I was supported and then proudly for the final climb, I made it myself, probably on pure adrenaline. We made it out in one piece and had officially conquered the abandoned Buzludzha.
I hobbled back to the car, resumed my navigator’s seat and we drove home for 4 hours in the pitch black and pouring rain. The lightning lighting up the darkness like a camera flash. Arriving at the hostel at 2am I went to bed, left with cuts, bruises and memories; I’ll take that combo any day.