A Travellerspoint blog

Veliko Tarnovo!

Gatwick Airport, Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo


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I've arrived and been settled into my new flat. The bus journey from Sofia was smooth, just over three hours, and the scenery was fantastic - for a decent proportion of the time, I could see forested mountains disappearing into the distance far as I could see. It reminded me of the mountains surrounding Mindo in Ecuador, though with trees suited to a more temperate climate rather than with rainforest.

I took these photos of the ETAP bus station where I arrived in Veliko Tarnovo, views of the street outside it and the St Cyril & St Methodius University building directly opposite.

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I can't believe what a spectacular view I have of the hills opposite. These are mostly forested but have a sizeable streak of bare rock running along just below their peaks (possibly karst - not sure though). These hills are separated from the main part of Veliko Tarnovo by the River Yantra, which looks very far below us. I haven't been down there yet. To my right is another hill, this time with Tsarevets Fortress on top of it - I've decided to visit it either tomorrow or on Thursday. I look forward to exploring Veliko Tarnovo; I think I have definitely landed on my feet here!

In contrast, my experience at Gatwick Airport early this morning wasn't the most pleasant. The queue at the bag drop was massive and when it was my turn my case was overweight so I had to take it aside and squeeze some stuff from there into my rucksack/ carry it; then when it was re-weighed it was still a little bit overweight. Luckily the girl told me not to worry about it and accepted it without making me pay extra. Then the guy at bag x-ray was a bit rude, muttering "you obviously didn't understand me, did you" in a snarky way when I didn't put my laptop case in exactly the position on the tray that he'd apparently told me to, and a minute later another guy pulled my rucksack aside to search it. It was fine, but did mean I had to spend a few minutes trying to get it arranged again and wrestling the zip shut.

I was lucky in comparison to one woman in the boarding queue, though. She was directly in front of me, was stopped and made to pay 30 euros because her carry-on bag was a little bit too big. I suddenly felt nervous because I thought they might think my bag was too (it was the right height but because I'd packed so much into it, I thought they might think it was too wide), but they didn't stop me. I think they were too distracted by the other woman arguing to really notice me walking quickly past the desk and into the boarding tunnel.

Once I got on the plane I realised I needn't have bothered paying £3.99 to reserve a seat right at the back and next to a window, because although I did get the seat I'd reserved, my back was against a wall so I couldn't lean back at all (I thought I'd be able to lean back without inconveniencing somebody behind me)... Oh well, at least I know not to bother doing that in the future!

Everything went smoothly on arrival in Sofia, apart from a few minutes of what-is-going-on confusion at the bus station, when the right bus hung around for a few minutes, didn't allow anyone on and then drove away, leaving me and everyone else waiting somewhat confused. Then another company's bus to Veliko Tarnovo drove up but didn't allow anyone on; luckily a few minutes later another bus to VT from the original company drove into the next bay along. Although the departure time displayed on the front had an hour's difference to that of the first one, I showed my ticket to the driver and he indicated I could get on, so I did, hoping I had done the right thing. We left shortly afterwards so everything was OK!

Posted by 3Traveller 07:53 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains airport buses sofia bulgaria veliko_tarnovo

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