In certain parts of Bulgaria there is a scheme where travellers can stay with villagers in their homes. This is an excellent idea, rather like a homestay. The village I stayed in was near the town of Pernik…

In the late afternoon sun I stood before the house where I was staying. A vine was growing over most of the roof. Peas, beans, potatoes, and carrots were being cultivated in the garden and five bee-hives sat by a large compost heap. Birds sang in a couple of the trees, scent from some flowers wafted around me, and I heard laughter coming from a neighbouring garden. I placed my bag on the dusty ground and knocked on the slightly warped front door.

Extract from Julian’s Journeys