Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv
Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
When we finally arrived in Veliko centre, Simon was marked by an old lady who had numerous rooms in a block of flats on the hill and a really annoyingly squeaky voice. The view was great, but I've seen better bathrooms! We were all starving so headed for the first decent looking place. They had the most amazing Bulgarian dishes and the wine was great. We shared a cab (they're cheap) to a monastery 7km out of town. The location was beautiful! Perfect for contemplation and meditation. The little church was covered in frescos inside and out. There was a little old priest that looked as though he'd been there since the church was first built (about 1500's I think). Martina and I explored the abandoned sleeping quarters of the nuns and monks whilst David and Simon snapped loads of photos.
On the way back town we decided to visit Tsarevets Fort. It was apparently built between the 5th & 7th centuries and had an execution rock. But it started to bucket down when we were walking round the walls and we got drenched. We headed up the top to the church and had quick look at the new grim religious paintings covering the inside. For 3 levi we could take photos but bugger that, they were horrible! Really morbid and grey. The women attendants decided to throw us out into the rain. It was coming down too hard to enjoy the rest of the fort so we headed back to dry up and then out to dinner for more great bulgarian food and wine. Simon decided he wanted a night-cap so we went into an near by bar. So cheap. 200ml of vodka was only 2 levi ($1.60!!). Same for 200ml of congnac!!
The landlady had said the new reports were bad and that the train tracks were damaged at various points so she wasn't sure if we could get trains to anywhere. Probably a ploy to try and make us stay longer. We went to the train station anyway and the ticket woman ignored me for about 15 minutes then decided she'd sell me some tickets. About an hour later we all had to get off and were herded onto awaiting buses. After about half an hour of winding roads and holding on to my backpack for dear life we were shoved back on trains and ended up in Plovdiv. Fortunately, this was where we wanted to be. There were no trains for Simon and Martina to either Sofia or Istanbul so they found a bus and we had to bid farewell to our new found, wine drinking friends, promising to meet them in Lille and reminisce about Bulgarian wine.
David and I were cornered by an old lady who spoke a bit of german, so we went to stay at her flat. Unfortunately it was at the top of the block! There were some old roman ruins to find so we headed for the centre. Down the main plaza area the remains of an amphitheatre are embedded in the walkway. Quite a strange thing to come across when doing a bit of shopping. We then walked up to the cobbled streets of the old town where there are some lovely old houses and churches. Also the larger amphitheatre. David managed to get in for free. Bastard.
The old town was really nice so we wandered around for ages then went to find a place to eat more great Bulgarian food. We'd heard about this funny head wobble thing indicating yes and they nod for no but we hadn't seen it yet. We asked for the menu and if we could sit outside and got the wobble. I had to think about it though because if you didn't know about it you'd think they were being rude! We decided we'd seen all of Plovdiv we wanted to and that Sofia was our next stop.