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Entries about bulgarian cuisine

Beautiful Arbanasi

Arbanasi and Veliko Tarnovo


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I went on a lovely trip to Arbanasi today, taking a taxi there and then walking back downhill through a partly wooded gorge to the River Yantra and Veliko Tarnovo. Arbanasi is 3km away from the centre of VT, on a hilltop visible from my bedroom and kitchen windows.

I revisited the Church of the Nativity first. It looked just as wonderful as the first time I saw it!

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After that I thought about going to the most famous house museum in Arbanasi, but then I remembered that I'll be coming back here at least three times before I leave Bulgaria, so I might as well save the house museum to experience for the first time with a visitor!

Instead of that I decided to get some lunch on a terrace which had the most amazing views over Veliko Tarnovo, Tsarevets Hill and the other hills and enscarpments stretching into the distance. Right on the horizon I could see the snowcapped peaks of the Central Balkans.

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Tarator and margherita pizza were followed by a visit to the monastery of St Nicholas.

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This was small; there was a church in the middle, with what seemed to be accommodation for nuns and priests in the rest of the grounds. When I walked into the courtyard next to the church, I saw two black-garbed nuns standing next to a table piled with flowering willow branches. It's the day before Bulgarian Orthodox Palm Sunday, so I assumed that they were doing something to them in preparation for the next day. On Palm Sunday people here take willow twigs or branches to church to be blessed; they then tie the willow to the main entrance to their houses.

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The interior of the church wasn't quite as beautiful as some (it didn't have any frescoes, for example), but it did have lots of framed icons leaned up against the walls. I bought and lit a candle for Dad from the stall inside.

There are lots of other things to see in Arbanasi, but I decided to leave those for today because I knew I'd be coming back. No point looking at everything in one visit! I walked back through a gorge. I had a stream on my left hand side and on my right was the main road, but above me so I couldn't actually see it for most of the time. Not all that many cars went along the road anyway, so there wasn't much traffic noise. I could mainly just hear birdsong and the sound of the stream. At one point I saw two old ladies next to a willow tree by the stream, cutting off twigs - for use the next day, I assumed.

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Not long after that I got a good view of the Patriarchate Tower of Tsarevets Fortress in the distance (my photo didn't turn out that well though).

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Eventually I saw tiled rooftops through the trees and realised I was about to come out into the Asenov quarter of Veliko Tarnovo, down by the River Yantra and round the back and to one side of Tsarevets Hill. I hadn't been this far round before. I walked out of the wood onto a cobbled street flanked by white- and pink-blossomed trees...

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...then along the riverside until I reached the wooden bridge. I could see little fish in the river.

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All in all, it was a lovely outing. I couldn't believe I'd left it so long since my last visit! I should have made a trip out there while it was snowing in the winter.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:37 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains bridges art monastery dad bulgaria icons veliko_tarnovo church_of_the_nativity fortifications orthodox_church tsarevets_fortress bulgarian_cuisine river_yantra arbanasi traditional_customs palm_sunday Comments (0)

Lovely relaxing Plovdiv

Plovdiv


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Once I'd got back to Plovdiv from Asenovgrad Fortress I checked my email at the hostel and took some photos of the common room, woodcarving and courtyard before going out again.

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I went back into the St Konstantin & Elena church briefly, because I noticed they'd opened the main entrance which had been closed the day before;

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From there I walked to Danov Hill and climbed up it to the Clock Tower.

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The Clock Tower doesn't actually have a visible clock face, but while I was there I heard a bell strike two. You can't climb up the tower, so I just sat in the sun on a nice smooth rock and gazed out over Plovdiv. I could hear lots of birdsong and it was all very peaceful and lovely. In the distance I could see Nebet Tepe, the hill with the fortress remains on it. I walked round the terrace for a bit before going back down.

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At the foot of the hill I walked into a restaurant recommended in my guidebook (thinking that I'd have a big, late lunch and then just have a snack for dinner) but then walked straight out again because it was so big yet so busy I could just tell it would take me ages to get seated, let alone get any food. Instead of that I ended up getting a takeaway box of white rice and Chinese chicken & vegetables from a 'China Panda' café close to the Dzumaya Mosque and the main pedestrian street. I ate it in the square. Once I'd finished eating I walked round the perimeter of the mosque again, but it was still closed. Such a shame - I really wanted to look inside.

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Instead, I went down into the Roman stadium remains (I'd looked at them from the street before, but not actually been down and got close up).

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Back at the hostel I chilled for the rest of the evening. Two German girls from Berlin moved into the 4-bed dorm, in Plovdiv only for one night on a stop between Sofia and Istanbul. I had a kashkavalka for dinner and read more of my 'Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent' Alexander Humboldt book.

Posted by 3Traveller 14:39 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mosque hostel bulgaria clock_tower plovdiv orthodox_church roman_remains bulgarian_cuisine Comments (0)

Signs of Spring

Veliko Tarnovo


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A beautiful sunny day today, so I took advantage of the day off work and walked to the market in town.

On the main road leading into Mother Bulgaria Square I saw lots of stalls selling martenitsas; these are red and white tassels, bracelets woven from intertwined red and white threads and little wooden doll figures called Pizho and Penda. These are exchanged by Bulgarians on 1st March to mark Baba Marta Day, the day which traditionally marks the end of the cold of winter and the beginning of spring. You aren't supposed to buy martenitsas for yourself; you should only wear ones given to you, and you're supposed to wear them until you either see a stork or a blossoming tree. Once you do see a blossoming tree, you should tie the martenitsa to it or hang it from a branch.

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I noticed other signs of spring once I got to the market. Old women were sitting on stools, selling bunches of snowdrops and white plastic cups of colourful flowers (possibly primroses). There were fewer winter vegetables such as swedes, turnips, cabbages, pumpkins and nuts; salad vegetables were starting to appear - spring onions, lettuces, peppers and a huge amount of tiny onions! I had never seen such small onions before.

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Another interesting thing I saw was massive chunks of 'byala halva' (white halva) with walnuts - it looked like nougat. I found out later that this type of halva is traditionally eaten on the last Sunday before Lent; given that this was nearly two weeks ago, I guess there must still be a bit of a backlog to use up...I also saw some massive knotted sugary buns which I had not seen before, so I assume they must have some connection to spring or to Lent. I bought one and it was fantastic!

Posted by 3Traveller 16:20 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged market bulgaria veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine mother_bulgaria_square baba_marta traditional_customs Comments (0)

Pancakes

Veliko Tarnovo


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To celebrate Shrove Tuesday I decided to throw a pancake party at my flat, but because the day itself was a work night and some of my colleagues were working until 21.30, I simply tested the recipe for myself that evening and saved the party for today.

Though I say so myself, I think it was a success! There were ten of us altogether. My pancakes were complimented by several people, and I arranged a small buffet of savoury things to have as well. I made my own version of the sliced tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad that Kate had at Tempo Pizza on our birthday weekend. I also had very thin and long dried sausage that curves into loops, three different types of Pringles-type crisps, Greek-style tzaziki, sliced cucumber and celery sticks, cured ham, the rest of the jar of pesto, a jar of preserved and roasted red peppers, snejanka salad and Russian salad (not homemade). To go with the pancakes, I had lemon and sugar of course, along with chocolate spread and honey. I only remembered I also had some maple syrup after nearly everybody had finished eating!

Posted by 3Traveller 14:28 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bulgaria veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine british_cuisine Comments (0)

Sisters depart

Veliko Tarnovo


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A lie-in was followed by lunch at Taverna, a restaurant only round the corner from my flat. I suggested this place because I know it does good chicken kavarma (chicken and vegetable stew cooked and served in a clay pot) and tarator and the décor is atmospheric.

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After lunch we went to the Han Hadji Nikoli museum and art gallery. At the moment it has two temporary exhibitions on loan from the Numismatic Museum in Ruse; one containing mainly Scythian coins and one of archaeological items from Ancient Greece and Rome. Highlights were the Roman glass cornucopia, a decree (written at Serdica - Roman Sofia - on 10th June, 311 AD) from Emperor Licinius regarding the privileges of soldiers and veterans, a Ancient Greek pot and some objects made from beaten gold such as jewellery, shield centres and an axe. There was also an exhibition of modern icons and some other paintings by Bulgarian artists.

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The building was very pleasant to look round, too; I'd been to the restaurant before, but not around the rest of it. We climbed various sets of stairs and walked along pillared walkways which overlooked the courtyard, the tiled roofs of nearby buildings and (once we reached the third floor) another part of Veliko Tarnovo on a hill in the distance.

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We had hoped to have to time to visit the fruit & vegetable market and also walk down to the River Yantra, but unfortunately we didn't. We did however go into a supermarket so that Emma and Kate could look round and pick up one or two things for themselves, family members and friends. The sun was out again when we left, so on our way back to my flat, we stopped at one or two lookout points for photos.

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Soon after we got back we had some of my colleagues round for birthday cake and some tea or coffee. Emma and Kate packed their stuff and eventually they had to depart. I walked to the ETAP bus station to see them off on their journey back to Sofia. Ahead of them was a long overnight wait at Sofia Airport for their early-morning flight to London.

The next day they told me that although their flight had had to make an unscheduled stop at Budapest Airport because another passenger had a medical emergency, they'd got home OK

Posted by 3Traveller 13:19 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged art museum sisters bulgaria veliko_tarnovo han_hadji_nikoli bulgarian_cuisine birthday_celebration Comments (0)

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