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Dragizhevo and Veliko Tarnovo


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A very, very hot day today in Dragizhevo, a village not far from Veliko Tarnovo which holds a car boot sale once a month between April and September/ October. A few of us went; I bought several things - half a dozen duck eggs, a book and one or two things I hadn't seen since I was last in the UK - garlic naan breads, a can of Dr Pepper and a tin of condensed milk. I also had a sausage & egg roll from the café. I would have liked to have stuck around for longer in order to look round the village, but I had visitors arriving in a couple of hours and I still needed to finish my preparations...

No sooner does one sister depart from Bulgaria, than the other one arrives :-) An hour or two after I got back from Dragizheno, Kate and Andrew arrived in VT from Varna, where they had been for a couple of days after a day or two in Plovdiv.

Almost as soon as they walked through the door we had a lovely Google Video chat conversation with Mum. After that we went up on the terrace, where my colleague 'R' was hosting a late birthday tea. We had a great time, with great company, food and weather. There was quite a group of us there. The food included homemade bean dip, fresh corn bread, potato salad and feta-like white Bulgarian cheese, then two birthday cakes for pudding - one of them a carrot cake. During the tea party we had an added point of interest in that a wedding party went past on the road behind the terrace - at first we didn't know what was going on because all we could hear was lots of car horns blaring, but then someone said that it might be a wedding party, so we dashed to the side of the terrace to have a look. We just managed to catch sight of a car driving along with balloons attached to the back, with a couple of other cars following along behind. (Credit to Kate for most of the following photos)

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Around 5ish I took Kate and Andrew on a wander through the main part of VT, including the craftmen's street and an amazing look-out point from the side of one of VT's hills.

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Our main destination was Assen's Monument, the massive sword-shaped monument on a raised area at a loop of the river Yantra, which flows through the small valleys between the hills. The bridge was interesting - I don't think I've mentioned this in previous entries, but there are yellow painted outlines of human figures in funny positions on the ground. On our way back Andrew couldn't resist the temptation of having his photo taken while lying in one!

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Our walk round the monument was enjoyable, with wonderful views plus an added bonus for me and Kate because we saw a wild snake on some rocks above the river!

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We returned to my flat via Gurko Street. As with much of VT, it was picturesque, particularly as some of the trees are in blossom.

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After relaxing for a while we went out for a late dinner at Shtastlivetsa - we all had tarator and mains; Andrew had kebapche (flattened meatballs), I had some special scrambled eggs and Kate had what claimed to be 'oriental salad' but didn't actually seem different to a normal one. She said it was tasty, though. We had garlicky sauteed potatoes and grilled vegetables on the side.

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We were so stuffed by the end we had to ask for a doggy bag to take away most of the potatoes and some of the scrambled egg.

Posted by 3Traveller 02:41 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bridges sisters snakes bulgaria mum veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine gurko_street assen_monument Comments (0)

The Blue Danube

Ruse


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Ruse lies on the River Danube, which is the border between Bulgaria and Romania. We parked in a side street and walked to Liberation Square; it was late afternoon by now but the sun was still out and the temperature was very pleasant. The café culture was clearly very strong here and we saw lots of Vienna-esque architecture. My guidebook evocatively describes Ruse as different to other Bulgarian towns, 'as if a little chunk of Vienna had broken off and floated down the Danube'.

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We walked through the square, passing by a lovely fountain (I wished I could get in and paddle) and flowerbeds just starting to come into bloom. Some of us got ice creams from a stand and then we sat down at an outside table at a café for coffee and Coke Zero.

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From the café we walked to the Danube and gazed across the river at Romania! The other side of the river was lined with green trees; it reminded me a bit of looking out over the River Guayas in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to the greenery on the banks of Isla Santay opposite. We hung around for ten to fifteen minutes before we had to return to the car. Just as we were about to head off, Emma spotted a snake in the water travelling along right by the edge. We thought it was trying to get onto land, but couldn't.

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It was still light at this point, but by the time we'd got back to the car and had navigated our way back to the main road through the one-way system, sunset was upon us.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:48 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged romania sisters snakes bulgaria explorations ruse river_danube Comments (0)

Snakes, exotic plants and a stunning city view

Quito and Pichincha Volcano


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In the morning, almost first thing after breakfast, we did something I've wanted to do for many years... we went on the Teleférico, the cable cars, up Pichincha Volcano!

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We went up to 4100 metres altitude. The view you get over Quito from up there is jaw-dropping.

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I was incredibly happy up there; I'd been wanting to come to this particular place for years!

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Once we got back to the hostel, though, and we'd nipped out to a nearby café for a quick lunch and come back again, I started feeling sad about the fact that it was Father's Day yet I was unable to see Dad. We went back out again soon after, though, so I cheered up, especially when I knew it was a place Dad would have enjoyed visiting. This was Quito's botanical garden, set within Parque La Carolina.

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Special mention goes to the rose garden - although the peak of the season was clearly over, enough flowers remained to create a lovely sight - the big orchid house, the koi carp pool, the collection of bonsai trees, the carnivorous plant house and some other individuals such as an arabica coffee bush, a vanilla plant and a couple of young quinine and jacaranda trees. The extremely relaxing atmosphere and beautiful setting were also great pleasures.

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After eventually leaving there, we carried on within the park to the Vivarium, which holds several types of reptile and amphibian, all native to Ecuador.

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We saw an anaconda, some boas, an extremely venomous coral snake, a tree snake, two baby caimen, a green tree frog, some baby turtles, a green iguana and one or two other things. It was very scientifically done and it was fascinating to see them so close up.

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We stopped at a shopping centre on the way back to the hostel and Dave was surprised by the sight of a Radioshack shop... he then had the bright idea of getting an SD card reader there to solve our problem of being unable to look at or save to USB the photos he'd taken since the Galapagos on his camera. So he bought one and then we moved on to a supermarket, where I showed Dave various tropical fruits and bought a big bottle of guanábana drinking yoghurt.

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Posted by 3Traveller 10:46 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains turtles volcanoes dad roses snakes botanical_gardens dave quito andes ecuador Comments (0)

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