Letter #5, which was never written

I didn't have to write any more letters, because in six weeks I was back in Moscow. I lived in Israel for a month, first working fields for a Bedouin family, then traveling around. I liked that tiny country - not as much its people and historical monuments as its Nature, beautiful and surprisingly well-preserved.

With a few hundred dollars in my pocket I boarded a ferry to Athens via Cyprus and Rodos. I wasn't allowed on shore at either one of stopover ports but managed to obtain a 24-hour Greek transit visa in Athens. It actually took me five days to hitchhike to Bulgaria, visiting Delphi and Mount Olympus along the way. Hitchiking was great: Greeks had very warm feelings towards us Russians, their brothers in Orthodox Faith.

Rila Monastery in Bulgaria is one of the most beautiful places in all of Europe. I also spent a day at Cape Kaliakra, where the last monk seal breeding colony in the Black Sea once existed. But the seals had apparently become extinct a few years prior to my visit. At a lake somewhere along the way I saw a slender-billed curlew, Europe's rarest bird. But I wasn't sure it really was that species until its occasional presence at that lake was confirmed many years later. Then I briefly explored Romania, and eventually made it home, still having enough money for a trip to China in June.

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