A Travellerspoint blog

Bulgarian Independence Day, a Bulgarian lesson and more

Veliko Tarnovo


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Today was Bulgarian Independence Day; another very fine day, it was already very hot at about 9.30 am when I got up. I walked to the plaza in front of the bridge to Tsarevets Fortress, because I'd heard there was going to be stuff going on there, but although I waited for over half an hour nothing happened, so I continued to the fortress.

There were military figures standing around a monument there, plus several TV cameras were present. Not long after I arrived a short religious procession went past; this was the head of the main procession. I followed the religious banners back over the bridge; as I did so I noticed massive fireworks in the process of being set up.

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Once back in the plaza, the religious procession stopped and many other groups began joining the procession behind them. I saw a man in magnificently colourful religious robes walking to his position, with a cross in one hand, a bunch of flowers in the other, and a crown on his head. I thought he was probably an Orthodox bishop or something similar. He was flanked by another religious figure, an army officer and a man in a black suit wearing a mayor's chain.

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Once the procession started moving, I walked with it through the streets to Mother Bulgaria Square, right in the centre of Veliko Tarnovo.

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There was a short wreath-laying ceremony at the Mother Bulgaria statue (which is a war memorial) and then a military parade. This included soldiers firing blanks, something I wasn't expecting and as a result, made me jump. Some of the soldiers were in khaki and others were musicians, dressed in red-braided white jackets and plumed, white furry caps.

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After that I walked back to the flat along Gurko Street. This is one of the oldest streets in Veliko Tarnovo and is filled with beautiful wooden-beamed, red-tiled Ottoman houses. The distinctive feature of these is the fact that each floor is a little bit bigger than the one below, so they overhang the cobbled road. The views from this street are amazing - I walk to work along this street and feel lucky every single time.

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In the late afternoon I went back to the plaza by the fortress bridge to look round. This time there was a crowd there, a stage had been set up and there was traditional dancing going on. It had clouded over by now but it was still very mild.

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I stayed for a while to watch the dancing before going back to the flat. In the evening I went out for some dinner and a few drinks with the other teachers. The bar we went to for drinks is called Melody Bar, an atmospheric cocktail bar. I really liked it and will be back!

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On the walk back to the flat I heard lots of fireworks going and saw some in the distance; I ran up all the steps to my street and the terrace to get a better view, but just as I reached it, they stopped! Oh well. I did at least catch the laser show from Tsarevets.

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S, the other new teacher, and I had our first Bulgarian lesson yesterday! We learned how to introduce ourselves and others, and got to grips with the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet. The alphabet is slightly head-spinning; some letters are both look and sound like ours, others look the same but have different sounds, and others correspond to sounds we have but are written totally differently! The homework has helped fix it a bit more in my memory, but more practice will definitely be needed.

I've got a Bulgarian phone now. I had to get one because although I could send texts OK to people in the UK, texts I sent to Bulgarian phones never arrived! Originally I only bought a simcard, but although that worked OK in a Bulgarian phone it didn't in my UK one.

I've tried some more Bulgarian food; stuffed courgette in a very runny yet creamy sauce, a potato dumpling in another type of creamy, herby sauce, and rabbit and mushroom stew. I would recommend all of these to visitors! Stuffed vegetables seem to be very popular here - they stuff courgettes, aubergines, peppers and cabbage leaves.

Dave and I have applied for some tickets to the Rugby World Cup, which will be held in England in a year's time. We've applied for four matches, in the cheapest ticket category (as the other categories were too expensive), all at locations not too far away. Any matches that end up being oversubscribed will go to a ballot, so we won't know until the ballot next month which matches we've got tickets for, if any. Hopefully we'll get at least one!

I have my residency card now but am waiting for my ID card. It should be ready to collect in a month's time.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:23 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged dave bulgarian bulgaria procession veliko_tarnovo explorations fortifications tsarevets_fortress bulgarian_cuisine gurko_street mother_bulgaria_square

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