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Bulgaria: One of Europe's least-known countries is one of the most scenic and hospitable. Images of Bulgaria

My heart almost stopped when the western face of Mount Vihren dropped into a void below. As the track zigzagged steeply down the exposed rockface I clung fearfully to the boulders, acutely conscious of my inadequate footwear. Far below, the grassy slopes had been 'improved' with messages spelt out in stones: Vladimir loves Olga. Must concentrate on the sharp stones underfoot... we were picking our way down off the 2,914 metre Mount Vihren in Bulgaria's south-west, a whisker short of the highest point in the Balkans.

Some find easier ways to enjoy the Bulgarian summer - like people-watching at open-air cafes in fine old cities like Plovdiv or Sofia. Summertime in Bulgaria is a young woman with long flowing hair and dancing eyes, flaunting everything she's got. She chain-smokes too; let the devil take tomorrow. Summertime in Bulgaria is also a weatherbeaten elder in faded floral prints and headscarf, doubled up in the cornfield.

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