Slow train to Bulgaria
Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
26Trip End Aug 01, 2006
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БЗФР Љеб - am sure this means hello, how are you?! Of all the traveling we have done over the years, the roman alphabet is primarily in use. Throw in a different alphabet and you complicate matters a great deal.
Lesson #1: When renting a vehicle it is always a good rule of thumb to know what direction your village is and how to spell it in the Cyrillic alphabet! The way we were spelling Mindya, we thought it was NW of Veliko Tārnovo when in fact it was SE - thank you to the gas station lady for pointing us in the correct direction!
We didn't see the Black sea - another visit. We had a short stay and at the cusp of spring but enough to see what beauty there is in central Bulgaria. We saw only a small part of Bulgaria - in the North - but with being close to Veliko Tārnovo, we saw city life and the rural life of Mindya. Every morning and evening in Mindya, goats and sheep (and their shepherd) passed by the house - excitement for all. We really enjoyed being based in one spot for 6 days, toodling about exploring and relaxing. Given the speed of the trains, distances, and the fact that we needed to retrace our steps into Romania - the decision to stay in one spot was just idyllic.
Veliko Tārnovo was once the capital of Bulgaria. The move to Sophia was a recent political move (19th century) in order to bolster their claims to Macedonia and other parts of the Balkans. What a shame, the city of Veliko Tarnovo was built on a gorge on the snaking S-shaped Yantra River
Lesson #2 Don't try to mail anything to Canada from Bulgaria (and to some extent Romania), not only is it next to impossible, the postal workers would not have any idea as to how much it would cost. So few people can afford to mail goods abroad, that the post offices rarely offer international postage service. Bulgaria has applied for EU membership but we are afraid that it will be many years before Bulgaria attains western European standards in just about every sector. Services are quaint but any service that requires connections beyond Romania are not that common. Presumably different in the capital cities....
We also noticed that throughout Eastern Europe the air quality or lack of it is something you quickly become aware of. One can see the air in many of the Eastern countries. Clear days are rare and the 40+ years of Communist rule has taken its toll on the environment and the landscape
But if you want the charm of a European country the way it was 40 years ago then Bulgaria is the place for you. It is a country where horse carts are common, outdoor plumbing normal or Bulgarian style bathrooms where you shower and wash the bathroom en meme temps, and small scale farming with labour intensive practices still in use. Of course the hiking/walking in the hills and mountains, beaches are all raved about but having not explored those parts.....
We thoroughly enjoyed Bulgaria.
Train north at the end of March entailed a LONG (2hr) border crossing inclusive of a medical questionnaire re avian influenza contact! Back to Sinaia for our final 4 days of gypsy life.