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Entries about dave

Dave arrives - ready for 3 weeks of adventure!

Sofia


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Yesterday I returned to Sofia and checked into my old favourite, Hostel Mostel. The journey from Skopje went smoothly and the border crossing was quicker than on the way in.

Taken on my walk to the hostel;

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Once I'd checked in, I walked down the road to another old favourite - a particular pizza kiosk/ café I know of round the corner from Boulevard Vitosha and the Court of Justice - for a late lunch. After that I just relaxed for a few hours at the hostel, before having their free dinner of pasta, sauce and salad. I met up with 'R' and her brother for a bit before going to bed - I was in a dorm room that night, but after Dave arrived today we moved into a private double.

This morning, before Dave arrived, I took 'R' and her brother to the Monument to the Soviet Army. After looking round it for a bit I left them to explore further, because I needed to get the bus to airport.

Once Dave and I had checked into our double room, we didn't do all that much for the rest of the day. He had had to get up very early to go to the airport, so he was now knackered and needed a rest.

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We did go out for a walk with his DSLR camera, however; we revisited the wonderful pizza place and Dave got a few shots of the Court of Justice and Boulevard Vitosha.

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This pizza place makes all their pizzas by hand; we saw a woman getting freshly-made dough out of a huge tub and then rolling it out into a massive circle. I've seldom seen such massive pizzas before. Every now and then she'd get delicious-looking, well loaded pizzas out of the oven, cut it into slices and transfer them into the glass cases from where customers can take their pick.

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In the evening we played some pool, had our free dinner and saw 'R' and her brother again. Tomorrow we've decided to go to Mount Vitosha, the mountain that provides a picturesque backdrop to Sofia.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:48 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged airport hostel dave sofia bulgaria boulevard_vitosha soviet_monument Comments (0)

Lovely way to finish our holiday

Veliko Tarnovo and Sofia


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Our bus to Sofia didn't leave until 15.00, so this morning and early afternoon was spent packing, editing photos, walking along Gurko Street in the sunshine to the ETAP bus station to buy our bus tickets in advance, eating ice cream from a stall in the main street and having lunch and browsing the shops on the craftsmen's street.

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We had lunch on the balcony at Stratilat Café (an old favourite of mine), so we could look at the view while we were eating.

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On our way back from the station we passed a gathering by one of the monuments off the main street. There were lots of bikes around, along with a giant inflatable Nescafé mug and someone talking over a loudspeaker. I found out the next day that there was a mountain biking festival going on; cyclists were biking through the hills next to VT, down the hill of Varusha (the old town), emerging at this monument junction and then continuing through the town. We didn't get to see any of the actual cycling though.

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Dave's flight was at 21.55, so on arrival at the central bus station in Sofia we took a taxi straight to the airport from there. I say 'straight' but we actually had a bit of time to kill, so we had some dinner at the main café first. Pizza and Bulgarian rice pudding went down a treat.

Once I'd seen Dave off, I took a taxi to 'Ploshtad Makedonia', where Hostel Mostel is. I was in the same dorm where I'd been last week.

Tomorrow morning I will have just enough time for breakfast before I get the 9 o'clock bus back to Veliko Tarnovo.

It's Dad's birthday today, so I've had him in mind all day. I'm so glad that Dave was with me for most of the day.

Posted by 3Traveller 15:45 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged airport dad dave sofia bulgaria veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine gurko_street Comments (0)

Long wait in Varna

Burgas, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo


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As soon as we'd had breakfast at the hotel in Burgas, we took a taxi to the west bus station.

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We arrived at 10.30 and noticed that the next bus directly to Veliko Tarnovo wasn't until 13.30, so we decided just to get the next bus to Varna instead. I knew that about 20 buses a day go from Varna to VT, so hopefully we could just hop on one of them soon after and then arrive back in VT early.

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That wasn't to be, unfortunately - our bus arrived in Varna OK, between 13.00 and 14.00, but the next ETAP bus wasn't until 17.30! We were too knackered to go into the city centre to kill time, so we just looked round the Grand Mall Varna instead, which is right next to the bus station. We looked round, had some food and played a lot of 10-card rummy. It was very similar to shopping malls everywhere, though suspended from the ceiling were some beautiful decorations made from multicoloured paper.

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We didn't get back to Veliko Tarnovo until 9 pm last night, so before we went to bed and conked out we didn't do anything apart from have a hot drink with 'F' and 'R'.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:46 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast buses dave bulgaria burgas varna veliko_tarnovo black_sea Comments (0)

Burgas: Ethnographical museum and Happy Bar & Grill

Burgas


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On our return to Burgas we made a beeline for the wonderful-looking ice cream shop I mentioned in a previous blog entry, but unfortunately it was closed. It was only about 3pm, but it had started raining, so maybe that was why it wasn't open.

The archaeological museum was also closed, due to painting work, so we set off to the ethnographical museum instead. This was set inside a small historic house; on the ground floor the living room was decorated and furnished like it would have been when it was built in the 19th century.

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There were also some examples of very intricately worked and engraved metal jewellery - my favourite was the large pendant with a face in it - coloured cloth from a village near Burgas and a facsimile of an old photo of female traditional folk-singers from the local region.

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Upstairs there was traditional female and male dress from various local villages; this included working clothes from Bulgarian immigrants to Asia Minor, wedding clothes and special clothes for Easter, St Lazar's Day (the day before Palm Sunday, this has various traditions attached to it), Midsummer's Day and other specific days. I liked the costume for male Christmas carol singers as well.

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We left when the museum closed at five o'clock. We relaxed at the hostel until it was time for dinner, which we had at a Bulgarian chain restaurant called 'Happy Bar & Grill'. This chain hasn't appeared in Veliko Tarnovo yet. It had a very modern interior, with one large TV screen showing a match from the Madrid Masters tennis tournament and two smaller ones showing 'TV's Funniest Videos'.

They had several menus, including the main menu, a sushi menu and a strawberry menu! From the latter we ordered a strawberry & banana smoothie to share. Dave was ecstatic when he saw edamame beans with salt in the main menu, so we had some of that to share as an appetiser, along with a piece of salmon sashimi each from the sushi menu. For our mains, we shared a stuffed grilled courgette and green salad, and had something separate each as well. I had steak and potato wedges and Dave had salmon and trout with grilled vegetables. We had just enough room for dessert, so I had some créme brulée and Dave had a blueberry waffle. A veritable feast, and the whole lot for the equivalent of £25!

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When we stepped outside we saw that it had stopped raining, so we walked to the seafront again. There's a park by the seafront and we were very taken with the giant model of a tropical fish which stood by the entrance. On our bus journeys out of town today and yesterday we had noticed more of these fish - I think they were connected to a National Geographic convention going on somewhere in Burgas around this time.

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Posted by 3Traveller 10:38 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast museum dave bulgaria burgas black_sea traditional_customs Comments (0)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Old Nessebar

Nessebar


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Our day trip today was to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Nessebar, which lies half an hour away by bus from Burgas on a tiny peninsula joined to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus. It is stuffed full of historic ruins and buildings, including Ancient Greek ruins, early Christian and medieval churches and fine wooden houses built in the coastal version of the Bulgarian National Revival style.

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We wandered around for a long time, enjoying the sunshine, architecture, cobbled streets and the white and light blue fishing boats in the harbour. Swallows flitted from building to building; a cockerel crowed down to us from someone's bedroom window.

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We came across lots and lots of old churches; some in ruins, some not ruined but locked and some neither ruined nor locked. Most of them had a distinctive green ceramic pattern running in a line across the archways above the doors and windows. The big ruined church of Sveta Sofia was impressive, as was the smaller church of Christ Pantocrator, which is now a small art gallery. I went in and looked round an interesting exhibition of facsimiles of historic maps of Bulgaria, the Balkans and the Black Sea coast (focussing on Nessebar).

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The church of Sveti Stefan, which was last up, had a spectacular interior. For once I was allowed to take photos (though still without flash), so I took full advantage. The frescoes were amazing.

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By the time I came out of Sveti Stefan, the sunshine had disappeared. We walked back to the old town walls, looked at the bus times and realised we didn't have time to go into the Archaeology Museum - a shame. As we looked out over the bay, we saw clouds and rain envelop Sunny Beach and then sweep towards us... The downpour hit us suddenly, with thunder, lightning and an absolute deluge of rain. I managed to get a good photo of a lightning strike, before running for the cover of the bus shelter.

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Before too long the bus came to take us back to Burgas.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:42 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged art birds coast beach old dave bulgaria black_sea orthodox_church nessebar unesco_world_heritage_site extreme_weather Comments (0)

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