A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about buses

Liberation Day

Plovdiv


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

A slightly misleading title, because although it is Liberation Day in Bulgaria today, I missed the celebrations in Plovdiv and there weren't any celebrations on in Veliko Tarnovo apart from a Sound and Light Show that they have once or twice every week anyway.

Last night, in Plovdiv, I asked at the reception desk if there were going to be any processions or other celebrations going on the next morning. The answer was that although the main celebration wasn't going to be until late afternoon, there was bound to be something going on in the main pedestrian street in the morning anyway.

So this morning I walked around town looking for signs of celebrations, but I didn't see any apart from one or two Bulgarian flag stalls setting up next to the martenitsa stalls.

IMG_5786.JPGIMG_5787.JPG

Although disappointed on the celebrations front, I still had a very pleasant walk. It was a lovely sunny day, I walked round two parks I hadn't been to before (Tsar Simeon's Garden and Dondukova Gradina Park) and I sat down to rest in the pedestrian square with the Roman stadium remains and Dzhumaya Mosque. 'Spring' from 'The Four Seasons' was playing out of a loudspeaker by the stadium.

IMG_5808.JPGIMG_5784.JPGIMG_5804.JPG0e6de350-1d07-11e9-a97b-e9d801dfd3cc.JPGIMG_5802.JPGIMG_5793.JPGIMG_5790.JPGIMG_5810.JPGIMG_5806.JPGIMG_5800.JPG

Eventually I went back to the hostel to pack up and check out. I walked to the North bus station, a journey which took over half an hour. I crossed the River Maritsa and passed Plovdiv's International Fair grounds on the way.

IMG_5814.JPGIMG_5816.JPG

When I arrived, the ticket lady said she didn't have tickets to Veliko Tarnovo for the time I wanted and that I'd have to wait until 16.30 for the next bus! It was only about 12.30 at this point. She wouldn't actually sell me a ticket for the 16.30 one, however - I didn't understand much of what she said in Bulgarian, but I gathered that it was somehow too early for her to do so.

I thought about going back to the city centre for a couple of hours, but I didn't want that half an hour walk to have been wasted and I was tired (my rucksack was very heavy), so I didn't. There was nothing to see or do in the area of town I was in apart from a Lidl supermarket round the corner, so I went inside, browsed and bought some lunch items to have at the station and some snacks for the journey later. After I'd eaten my lunch I read my Alexander Humboldt book until it was time to wander out to where my bus was due to leave.

The journey back took a different route to the one to Plovdiv. Instead of going through the town of Stara Zagora, the bus took a spectacular route that wound through the snowcapped Balkan Mountains.

IMG_5822.JPG

We went through the Shipka Pass, famous in Bulgaria for being the scene of several conflicts between the Bulgarians and the Ottoman Empire during the Russo - Turkish War of 1877 - 1878.

I didn't arrive back in Veliko Tarnovo until past 20.00.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:46 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged mountains mosque buses bulgaria plovdiv explorations roman_remains shipka_pass Comments (0)

Plovdiv: Start of the March holiday weekend

Plovdiv


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

I'm typing this sitting in the wonderfully atmospheric common room at Hostel Old Plovdiv. The wooden ceiling is very high and has intricately carved leaves in the middle; this is a historic house, built in 1868 for a rich, local tobacco merchant. The whole hostel is filled with antiques, there are original Roman wall foundations in the breakfast room and right now I'm looking through the window at the trees, whitewashed wall and tiled roof in the courtyard. Church bells have just begun clanging nearby.

The hostel is within the historic Old Town;

IMG_5423.JPGIMG_5427.JPGIMG_5426.JPGIMG_5418.JPG

The journey here from Veliko Tarnovo took about four and a half hours, though that included a 20 minute stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere and half an hour at the bus station in the town of Stara Zagora. As soon as I'd arrived (at a different bus station I'd been expecting), found my hostel and checked in, I went for a walk around the Old Town. The sun was shining and my surroundings were so beautiful, I was filled with the joy of life.

The first place I went was only five minutes away; a hill called 'Nebet Tepe'. It has fortress ruins dating from Thracian and Roman times, the early Byzantine period and the Middle Ages. There isn't all that much left to see now, but still enough for a lovely wander round and some photos of the amazing views over the city. I really recommend this place for a visit. I could definitely see why a fortress was built here!

IMG_5431.JPGIMG_5437.JPGIMG_5433.JPGIMG_5442.JPGIMG_5447.JPGIMG_5449.JPGIMG_5456.JPGIMG_5460.JPGIMG_5465.JPGIMG_5470.JPG

After Nebet Tepe I walked round the corner to the Regional Ethnographical Museum. It's very picturesque, held within a very historic wooden building.

IMG_5478.JPG

There were hundreds of interesting exhibits - mummers' Carnival costumes; musical instruments such as clay and willow whistles, a harmonium, goatskin bagpipes, kavali (end-blown wooden flutes) and gadulki (long, bowed string instruments, possibly descended from the rebec); equipment used for winemaking, beekeeping, tobacco harvesting, rose oil and rosewater-making, weaving, embroidery, metalworking and other traditional crafts; traditional folk costumes of the region (many individual for a specific village); and many different black and white National Geographic photos from the 19th and first quarter of the 20th centuries.

A wander down to the main street followed the museum, mainly because I was starving (it was past three o'clock and I'd had no lunch yet). I tracked down a slice of pizza and saw part of a Roman stadium that was discovered beneath a shopping centre a few years ago.

IMG_5485.JPGIMG_5486.JPG

Next I went back to the hostel to put my feet up for a bit until it was time to return to Nebet Tepe to watch sunset - something I'd decided to do while I was there the first time. I settled myself by one of the fortress walls and stayed for about half an hour.

IMG_5492.JPGIMG_5490.JPG

At one point two women came up and one of them started throwing something out of a jar over the side of the wall; for a second, out of the corner of my eye, I thought she was throwing ashes, but then when I looked properly I saw it was purple or blue powder. She was talking and laughing with her friend as she did it.

After watching the sun go down I found a place to have dinner. The restaurant I went to was pricier than I was expecting, so I had to go for the cheaper options. I had a very tasty wild mushroom soup (broth-like, without any cream) as a starter and then some poached eggs in yoghurt and feta cheese sauce; the latter wasn't an option I'd seen anywhere before, especially in a dinner menu, but it tasted delicious and was more filling than it looked, too.

Church of Sts Konstantin and Elena, Old Town

Church of Sts Konstantin and Elena, Old Town

Posted by 3Traveller 02:40 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged museum hostel buses bulgaria plovdiv explorations roman_remains traditional_customs Comments (0)

Return to Bulgaria

London Gatwick Airport, Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Another set of goodbyes, a smooth train journey to Gatwick in the middle of the night and a long, sleepless few hours in the terminal waiting area before I could go through security and bag checks. In comparison to my journey through here in September, at least this time I only had hand luggage so avoided the potentially long queues at check-in and could go straight through to bag x-ray and then duty-free. No grumpy x-ray staff this time.

I managed to doze off for a while on the plane but still felt very sleep-deprived on arrival in Sofia. The taxi journey to the central bus station was uneventful and this time I had no problems getting a ticket for the next bus to Veliko Tarnovo. I dozed some more on the bus. There was snow around in Sofia and this continued all the way into Veliko Tarnovo.

I've met the new teacher, who is living in the flat above mine. She seems really nice. Term starts tomorrow!

Posted by 3Traveller 14:39 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged snow trains airport buses sofia bulgaria veliko_tarnovo Comments (0)

Boxing Day

Veliko Tarnovo and Sofia Airport


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

We spent most of the day in Veliko Tarnovo, lying in, eating Christmas dinner leftovers for lunch and doing some shopping. I bought myself a lovely real leather handbag and a beautiful, colourful handpainted icon of St George & the Dragon. The latter was something I'd been thinking of buying for myself ever since I arrived in Bulgaria (St George is popular here, so his image often appears in icons). The shop was small, but still managed to have two sections; both were filled with antiques, but the smaller one also had lots of icons on the walls. While I looked at the icons, Dave inspected the antiques and bought a fancy wooden box - he originally looked at another box but it turned out to belong to the owner and was the only one not to actually be on sale!

We took the 5pm bus to Sofia without any problems. I'd bought our tickets in the morning, just in case the buses got booked up (I've never done this in Bulgaria until now, but I didn't want to risk the chance of missing our flight due to not being able to get a bus to Sofia at all). After I'd done that, we both sampled some hot chocolate from the Italian hot drink vending machine in the street in front of the ETAP bus station. These machines are spread out throughout Veliko Tarnovo; the drinks names are in Bulgarian but the instructions are in Italian. The hot chocolate was only 50 stotinki (20p) each and was quite small, but delicious.

At Sofia bus station I hoped the OK-Supertrans taxi desk would be open, but although it was only 8.30pm, it was closed. The opening hours listed there and in my guidebook claimed that it remained open until 10pm. I was hesitant to catch a taxi from outside the station without having gone through the taxi desk, because the only time I'd done that before I'd got royally ripped off, but now it looked like we had no choice. To guard against being ripped off I got Dave to take a photo of their listed rates. Maybe the driver we ended up with had seen us do this (or maybe he was just nice and honest), because as it turned out we didn't get ripped off at all.

It was snowing in Sofia. Inside Sofia Airport it was lovely and warm though and for the first few hours of our wait we were almost the only people in the whole terminal apart from two security staff. Our flight wasn't until 5.30am. We took turns to wander around (Dave went outside and took some pictures of the snow), we played another long game of 10-card rummy and I read part of a biography of Captain Cook on my Kindle. Dave tried to sleep but failed because lying across the seats was too uncomfortable.

36233d10-1b30-11e9-94a3-5534a9ecbc0b.JPGIMG_4295.JPGIMG_4299.JPGIMG_4317.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 09:23 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged snow airport christmas buses dave sofia bulgaria icons veliko_tarnovo Comments (0)

Arrival in Veliko Tarnovo for Christmas

Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Breakfast at Hostel Mostel was excellent, one of the best hostel breakfasts I've ever had; Bulgarian yoghurt, Bulgarian feta cheese ('cirene'), boiled eggs, olives, salad items, scrambled eggs, sliced apple, sliced kiwi fruit, waffles, jam, chocolate spread, cereal, milk, juice, tea and coffee. After filling ourselves up we had a game of pool on the free pool table, packed up our stuff and asked reception staff to order a taxi to the main bus station for us.

IMG_4065.JPGIMG_4068.JPGd38e1cc0-1b15-11e9-b6c3-bf79ea450c5d.JPGd374c860-1b15-11e9-a0fc-21bd74718c61.JPGd435ce70-1b15-11e9-80c6-85db7f9f5943.JPG

The time was now about 9.45 am. As soon as we arrived I bought tickets to Veliko Tarnovo, though not as easily as I'd expected. The company I wanted to use, ETAP, had no spaces left on any bus until 2pm, so I checked another company option instead, seeing from their timetable that their next bus to VT was at 11.30 am. They professed to have no tickets whatsoever for any bus to VT, however, so I had to go back to the ETAP desk and buy the 2pm tickets after all.

2b4abea0-1b16-11e9-b6c3-bf79ea450c5d.JPG

So a long wait was ahead of us. Oh well, we'd been in similar situations before on our various travels and knew there was absolutely no point getting stressed out or annoyed about it; a laid-back approach is by far the best to take. So we took ourselves, Dave's big case and my rucksack upstairs to the seating area, made ourselves as comfortable as we could and played a mammoth 10-round game of 10-card rummy, a process which took up nearly an hour. (Dave won.)

2b846c40-1b16-11e9-b6c3-bf79ea450c5d.JPG

At 12.30 we wandered over to a food counter and had a very leisurely lunch of pizza and (in my case) créme caramel. Then we went down to wait by the bus until the doors opened and we could get on.

The journey was uneventful, though we did see a beautiful sunset. It was completely dark when we arrived in VT. We stopped for a few photos on the way to my flat so we didn't get in until just past 6pm.

8ad36110-1b16-11e9-80c6-85db7f9f5943.JPG

Dave started unpacking and sampled one of the bottles of Bulgarian beer I'd bought for him a few days ago. We also went next door to buy some 1kg tubs of honey from my landlady.

8ace7f10-1b16-11e9-b6c3-bf79ea450c5d.JPGIMG_4107.JPG

After about an hour we went out for dinner at Han Hadji Nikoli. We shared an antipasti plate, Dave had a Bulgarian pork grill and I had stuffed chicken breasts, with buttered broccoli as a side. Great quality, as always.

IMG_4129.JPGIMG_4128.JPGIMG_4132.JPGIMG_4110.JPG

It had been a long day, so we went straight back to the flat after dinner, finished unpacking and headed for bed.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:18 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged night christmas hostel buses dave sofia bulgaria veliko_tarnovo han_hadji_nikoli bulgarian_cuisine Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 61) Previous « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. » Next