A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about plovdiv

Lovely relaxing Plovdiv

Plovdiv


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

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.

IMG_5719.JPGIMG_5723.JPGIMG_5722.JPG

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;

IMG_5730.JPGIMG_5724.JPGIMG_5728.JPG

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

IMG_5749.JPGIMG_5751.JPGIMG_5761.JPG

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.

IMG_5754.JPGIMG_5760.JPGIMG_5755.JPGIMG_5757.JPG

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.

IMG_5768.JPGIMG_5765.JPG

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).

IMG_5774.JPGIMG_5770.JPG

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)

Plovdiv: Baba Marta, Roman amphitheatre and icons

Plovdiv


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

I woke up in the middle of the night to an absolutely stiflingly hot dorm room. I walked over to the portable heater which was on full blast and after fiddling fruitlessly with controls I couldn't see properly in the dark, ended up just pulling the plug out of the socket in the wall. The other three people were fast asleep so I hoped they wouldn't mind.

I didn't get back to sleep for another couple of hours and when I did, I woke up again at 7.30 and then for good at 9.30.

IMG_5571.JPGIMG_5572.JPG

Breakfast was decent and quite quick and then I was out of the door for an exciting day of exploration! The first place I went to was an icon gallery round the corner from my hostel; not as big as the gallery in the crypt of Aleksander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia, it was nonetheless very good.

IMG_5505.JPGIMG_5510.JPGIMG_5509.JPG

From there I moved on to the Roman amphitheatre. It was discovered by accident in 1972 after it was uncovered by a landslide; it's since been restored and is a pretty impressive sight, especially when the white marble seats gleam in the sun. It was built in Philippopolis (the Roman city where Plovdiv is now) between 114-117 AD during the reign of Emperor Trajan, could seat 6000 spectators and was used for gladiator fights and poetry and music competitions as well as theatrical performances. It was also used as the seat of the Thracian Provincial Assembly.

IMG_5526.JPGIMG_5548.JPGIMG_5544.JPGIMG_5531.JPGIMG_5527.JPGIMG_5524.JPGIMG_5543.JPGIMG_5513.JPG

It was 5 leva to get in. As I wandered round I heard bells clanging and the voice of a cantor singing and chanting from a church nearby. I sat on a seat and looked down at the very low, wooden stage below - it is used for plays and musical performances nowadays. For a minute I imagined myself at a Roman performance...

After I left the amphitheatre I passed by the church of Sveti Dimitar and on an impulse, went in. Before I actually entered the church, though, a man claiming to connected to the church showed me the English language information about the church at the entrance and took me behind the church to see a memorial to someone. Then he gave me a begging letter written in English and Bulgarian - apparently he used to be a skilled builder but had a bad accident and couldn't work any more or pay hospital bills. He showed me some major scars on one hand and arm; I thought that even if he was exaggerating or making up his story, he probably needed money more than I did anyway, so I gave him a 5 leva note and went inside.

I bought and lit a candle before I looked round. The church had a white marble iconostasis - the only marble iconostasis in the world, apparently; the marble was quarried from the nearby Rhodope mountains. I was disappointed to find out that the old icons had been replaced in 2007 (I prefer the older ones).

After that I carried on down the road a little bit until I reached the Church of the Mother of God (also known as the Assumption Cathedral). This was more atmospheric and colourful than the church of St Dimitar. Included in the painted, wooden iconostasis was a big icon of the Virgin & Child framed with two rows of apples, one row green and the other red. By a pillar there was another big icon of the same subject; this one was framed with white flowers and had red and green apples only at the top.

IMG_5570.JPGIMG_5554.JPGIMG_5557.JPGIMG_5559.JPGIMG_5558.JPG

The last thing I did before heading back to the hostel was walk on to the Dzhumaya Mosque. It was closed, scuppering my intention to go inside, so I walked round the surrounding area instead. It was next to the remains of a Roman stadium I'd seen briefly the day before. Set up in the street were lots of stalls selling red and white martenitsas. These are traditionally exchanged by Bulgarians on 1st March, which is called Baba Marta Day; the mythical figure of Baba Marta ('Granny March') brings with her the end of the cold of winter and the beginning of spring. You can read more about martenitsas here.

IMG_5566.JPGIMG_5567.JPGIMG_5568.JPG

Back at the hostel I had a lovely video chat with family, arranged a trip to Bachkovo Monastery & Asenovgrad Fortress for the next day and had a kashkavalka for lunch. When I went out again I went into the Church of St Konstantin & Elena - the oldest church in Plovdiv. The iconostasis was even more magnificent than the one in the Assumption cathedral.

IMG_5582.JPG

I went back online at the hostel at 5 in order to follow the 6 Nations match between England and Ireland (England lost, unfortunately). For dinner I ate out at the restaurant attached to the Philippopolis Museum & Art Gallery; I had grilled halloumi and mushrooms for my main and creme brulee for pudding - at least it claimed it was creme brulee, but had syrup on the top instead of crystallized sugar. Still delicious though!

Posted by 3Traveller 03:30 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged art mosque cathedral hostel bulgaria icons plovdiv explorations orthodox_church roman_remains baba_marta traditional_customs 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)

(Entries 6 - 8 of 8) Previous « Page 1 [2]