Melnik is a mostly forgotten town in the southwest corner of Bulgaria. With a stay in Sandanski, it makes for a good weekend journey or--from Sofia--a longish day trip. The town was built amongst rock crags and is well-known for its wine. Order from a local restaurant and the owner will dip a pitcher into a big wooden barrel. Be sure to have a translator with you since English is almost impossible here The city offers interesting architecture and Byzantine ruins that are practically void of tourists. A part of your day must include a trip to the desolate Rozhen Monastery, one of scores of monasteries around the country.
When I visited, one Eastern Orthodox priest lives in the sprawling building and we had plenty of time to look in the chapel, the Monk's cells, and around the grounds. Equally inspiring is the view from the hill top. You'll notice farmers tending their sheep or hauling crops into town. In late summer, watch for farm wives and old men preserving gorgeous red peppers by grilling them on outdoor fires. Bring your camera.