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Entries about dave

Arrival in Veliko Tarnovo for Christmas

Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo


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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Going to the Rugby World Cup next year! :-)

Veliko Tarnovo


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Dave and I have managed to get tickets to see Argentina vs. Namibia at the Rugby World Cup next year! I'm so happy! It will be in Leicester, a city I've never been to before, on Sunday 11th October 2015. I have a feeling that this will be quite a quick running game, filled with tries, and that Namibia will do a lot better than people might expect.

Work has been much busier than usual in the last couple of weeks, because my colleague 'S' left quite suddenly and we're yet to get a replacement. Apparently this is the worst time of year for hiring. It looks quite likely that we won't get a replacement until after Christmas, in fact.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:37 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged dave bulgaria veliko_tarnovo english_teaching Comments (0)

Lunch in the countryside

Veliko Tarnovo and Mindya


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I left the hostel early and walked through near-empty streets to the main bus station. I left too early to get my free breakfast at the hostel, so I had a kashkavalka instead. I had to get a ticket to Veliko Tarnovo from a different bus company than usual, because the one I wanted would have left far too late, so I arrived at a different bus station that usual in VT.

I'd only been back in Veliko Tarnovo for an hour or so before I went out again, this time with a group of colleagues to the village of Mindya. We'd been invited to lunch by our colleague and her partner. They absolutely plied us with delicious food, and lots of chat, laughter and alcohol were had! We stayed until late evening; I had to leave a little earlier than the others because I had a Google video chat date with Dave.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:06 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged buses dave sofia bulgaria veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine mindya Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

Goodbye St Albans - Bulgaria tomorrow!

St Albans, Hatfield and Hemel Hempstead


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I've been saying my goodbyes gradually over the last few days in preparation for my departure to Bulgaria tomorrow for my new teaching contract for the coming academic year.

I went to Asda in Hatfield on Wednesday morning to buy some trainers and casual trousers, neither of which they had (apart from jeans). I did get to speak to some friends who work there, though, which was nice. Then that evening I went down to the rugby club and caught up with some people there.

Yesterday Dave and I went into St Albans city centre, had lunch at the Meating Room (a gem of a burger place which had been highly recommended to me) and stopped at the cemetery on our way home in order say hello and goodbye to Dad. We went out again in the evening to have a drink and game or two of pool at The Crown.

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Earlier today we went to Hemel Hempstead for a birthday barbecue at Kate & Andrew's.

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Dave has now left for Manchester as he has work tomorrow. My flight leaves Gatwick at 6.35 am so I'm not going to go to bed tonight - I can't risk sleeping through my alarm! I'm getting a train in the middle of the night. My first time flying with Ryanair - hopefully it will go OK!

I've been given instructions for what to do on arrival in Sofia. I'll need to go to a specific taxi company desk at the airport, get a taxi to the main bus station and then a bus from there to Veliko Tarnovo. I know how much the ticket should cost and how long the journey should be.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dad dave mum hatfield st_albans hemel_hempstead Comments (0)

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