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Travelers in Bulgaria

  • Ella K
    Im Flugzeug 1d
    Traveled in 3 countries
  • Ste De
    plovdiv 1d
    Traveled in 9 countries
  • Sandra Adams
    Sofia, Bulgarien 2d
    Traveled in 35 countries
  • Folker Heim
    SOF 5d
    Traveled in 25 countries

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  • Yesterday the timezones changed and so did the weather. Clocks forward an hour so up earlier to enjoy the stunning days. Also spent the day on board as we cruised down to Vidin. The riverboat is beautiful absolute luxury and don't want to get off.

    Today we traveled to Belogradchik which is a town in Bulgaria with interesting rock formations and history going back to prehistoric times. Mila would enjoy climbing the rocks!

    We saw cottages with the usual veges tomatoes, beans etc, but never any lawns mowed as no one has a lawnmower.
    Also empty commie buildings a real blight on the landscape. Also full ones that are apartment blocks with wires hanging off them and falling to bits. The guides show you only what they want you to see but as usual we managed to leave the tour and do our own thing. Have great photos of donkeys towing the farmer by cart but we can't download the photos from good camera as Internet so weak. The ecomonic advantages of being in the family (EU) are so evident in places like Bulgaria which reminds us of Croatia in 1988.

    And the driving here is like a roller coaster. If you want to overtake you just pull out and go. Doesn't matter if it's corners or in a village.

    Will add more later and hopefully pictures. Off to enjoy champagne with the captain.

    Back from dinner which was amazing . Am sure we have put on 5 kilos each with these amazing 5 course dinners at every meal. (All drinks included with meals, purely so we can appreciate the wines of different countries).

    Cruising up the Danube is very beautiful as there are very few other boats other than the odd barge. The scenery is idyllic with lots of forestry, farmland and occasionally villages. Mostly is just a big beautiful expanse of water. Other tour companies are not cruising this reach of the river currently due to low water levels, but this ship is built specifically for the Danube while others are converted from the more popular Rhine. This has been an amazing trip through the history of the Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans (Turks), and this will continue when we hit Istanbul and Turkey.

    The other guests are an interesting group. Have made some lovely friends who are from the States ,Canada and Alaska. There are a few facelift women who we are avoiding but one of there plastic old ducks danced on my foot tonight - but had no idea cos she couldn't see over her boob job!

    Arrive in Giurgiu Romania at 7.30 am tomorrow. More border checks then into Bucharest for the day.
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  • Long day on the road, yes we bid farewell to Amaprima (our river ship) at 9 this morning. We had docked on the Romanian side of the Danube overnight but moved across to the Bulgarian side after some of the early leavers had disembarked. There is a bridge across the Danube near this point called the Friendship Bridge, but at present it has long delays caused by checks on freight etc.

    This because of the Syrians again, but they shouldn't worry in Romania, or Bulgaria, as 1 refuge was quoted on TV saying if he had to stay in this area he would rather go back to Syria. These are not economic refugees, but Internet refugees - they have seen for themselves what life in Europe can be like and want a piece of the action. They travel with iPhones and know exactly where to go, and where the best routes currently are.

    This region has had hundreds of years of Ottomans and Turk (read Muslim) occupation, and they see this refugee influx as just another wave of occupation. This is what we have heard from well educated guides talking freely about the matter, and put in the context of their history, it is understandable.

    Another history lesson today on Bulgarian (Balkin) oppression, murderous Ottomans, Western powers playing with their borders, political scandals and incompetence, and surprisingly, the gratatude they feel towards the Russians for saving them all in 1878. They don't talk about communism, but socialism.

    One interesting observation in every town from Serbia down to Bulgaria are the rusting abandoned factories we have passed. They were staffed by the peasants forced off their land by socialist rulers who took their lands. In Bulgaria, we were told that after the end of socialist rule, the land was returned to the original owners, their grandchildren actually, who by then had no skills or interest in working the land, so much of it was left unworked for many years afterwards.

    Stopped in a most beautiful town called Veliko Tarnovo, and apart from the Bulgaria tucker, we really enjoyed wandering around their artisans quarter, even buying a little painting. There are many icon painters here, but not of the standard of our local monk Don. Got lots of photos of their work, which are often painted on pieces of wine barrels.

    Bulgaria was once renowned for its wine, but again this industry was ruined under socialist rule - they made just red wine and white wine by simply mixing all the grapes together regardless of variety. And by the taste of their wine today, they haven't been able to reestablish a quality wine industry. We really do not appreciate the quality of food and wine in our part of the world. This has not been a culinary tour by any means, though we hold out high hopes for Turkey.

    Istanbul tomorrow evening, everyone says it will be great, so really looking forward to this great city, Turks and all!

    Added Tuesday evening, the icons and icon painter or Don.
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  • We got into Sophia after schedule because of the unplanned border security procedures. When we arrived we went for a brief walking tour with Mikael and we seen the Alexandra Nevski, the eternal flame ouside the church of Saint Sofia, the church of Saint Nicolas, National Theater designed by Ivan Vasof and the President's Palace.

  • The train ride to Veliko Tarnovo was awesome. Ray played chess against an awesome old local man who pitied our skills, we met JD and Ankita who would join us for the remainder of our Balkan trip and we met 2 German guys who we pretty much saved from a cold night at the train station in Veliko Tarnovo as all train services were cancelled due to the huge amount of snow.
    Since we couldn't find a cab to take us to the hostels, we took a bus to the city and walked the rest. NOT fun if you don't have any winter clothesRead more

  • Veliko Tarnovo is an awesome little student town. We originally wanted to go to the UFO building (Buzludzha) right away but due to the huge amount of snow it was impossible.
    So we made some friends at the hostel and started to explore the city.

  • The day had finally come. Even though we weren't sure if we could make it, our driver decided to take our little group up to Buzludzha. We ended up stuck with our 4 wheel drive on a tiny bridge the first time around but after a lot of shoveling and getting the car out of this dangerous situation we gave it another try on another mountain pass.
    This time we made it!
    It was one of the coolest places I've ever visited and nothing can quite describe the way you feel when you first see the building and stand inside.
    One of my must go places! Especially since the Bulgarian government is thinking about taking it down.
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