Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
154Trip End May 28, 2011
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We pressed on east today on a secondary highway to Plovdiv, about 100 kms short of Turkey. The drive was pleasant enough, and was a nice glimpse of rural Bulgaria, with numerous horse drawn carts, beaten up old Ladas laden with potato sacks, and exciting pot-hole dodging to keep the drivers awake.
We arrived in Plovdiv around 2 pm and set about trying to find a tourist information office to ask about campgrounds. As usual in southern Europe in general, the Tourist Information office was the most difficult building to find in the town, and its existence seemed to be a closely held secret, with few shopkeepers knowing where it was. When we did find it, tucked off of a more dreary end of the shopping street, we discovered it was not open Saturdays. I guess no tourists arrive in Plovdiv on Saturdays
We did glimpse enough of the town while searching to think it would be worth a better look tomorrow…with its very tightly packed and heavily cobbled old town, and with its large mosque and shopping street. However, when we did finally find a campground about 4 kms out of town, called appropriately enough, Camping 4th Kilometre, it turns out to be a rather dreary little place tucked off the highway, behind a dismal little café. The only restroom is in a "bungalow" which must have been at one time a rental unit, but now is a very musty and broken down little hovel. We are the only campers here… I wonder why?
Unfortunately this has left us with a bad taste of Bulgaria… it has much to offer with Sofia and its sites, with the Rila Monastery, and with the quaint antiquity of Plovdiv. But there is simply not enough caring or awareness of the needs of tourists, not even the very basic needs of those like us. The Cyrillic alphabet does not help navigation, and the roads and services are barely adequate. There is the potential for a tourist industry, but there needs to be a more coordinated effort to develop the infrastructure and services.
Off to Turkey tomorrow…we'll see what that brings!