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Train to Romania: Goodbye Bulgaria...

Veliko Tarnovo and Gorna Oriyahovitsa


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After last-minute cleaning and finishing off my packing, I somehow got all my stuff down all the steps (breaking the main handle of my massively heavy case in the process) and flagged down a taxi. The driver tried to rip me off, saying that it would be 15 leva for him to take me to the train station in Gorna Oriyahovitsa. I refused and just took a taxi from the usual place, outside Hotel Yantra, instead. It only came to about 8.50 and I gave him a 10 because he went faster for me when I said I had a train to catch.

Transporting my big broken-handled case and other bags down a large flight of steps and up another one was not easy, and nor was getting it all onto the train - the step up from the platform was much higher than in the UK. The train itself was quite different to ones in the UK; each carriage had four or five cabins, with a narrow corridor connecting them all on the left hand side. I had a cabin to myself, even after the ticket inspector came round and told me that I needed to move to a different carriage because the one I was currently in (not the one on my ticket, to be fair) was going to be disconnected at the Romanian border and sent to a different destination to the one I want (Bucharest)!

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It was extremely hot and sticky on the train while I waited for it to depart. I started to read the book I had chosen specially for this journey - Paul Theroux's 'The Great Railway Bazaar'.

Goodbye Bulgaria...

Posted by 3Traveller 09:44 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged trains bulgaria veliko_tarnovo gorna_oriyahovitsa Comments (0)

More goodbyes

Veliko Tarnovo


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This morning I booked my train ticket to Bucharest! I leave from the station at Gorna Oriyahovitsa at 12.03 tomorrow, so I'll have to get a taxi there at about 11.15. While I was in town I also changed some leva into Romanian lei and went into my now ex-workplace to book my hostels and print out the booking confirmations, my flight e-ticket and boarding pass.

After that I had a late lunch at Hadji Nikoli with my ex-colleague M and her daughter B - I had my beloved tarator for the last time before I leave Bulgaria, plus a delicious courgette, white cheese, yellow cheese and egg mixture, and for pudding an ice parfait with crushed caramelised hazelnuts. M insisted on paying for my meal at the end - thank you M! I was sad to say goodbye at the end; M was a fantastic colleague and friend, the best you could hope to wish for, and B is lovely too.

On my return from Hadji Nikoli I started cleaning, tidying and packing in earnest. In the evening I went out for a few drinks with N - I really wanted to go to Melodie Bar (my old favourite) but it turned out that it's closed until 1st August, so we went round the corner to Sammy's instead and sat in their outdoor section. That was a shame about Melodie Bar; I really fancied my usual order of two pina coladas to start and later on a kahlua on ice. Oh well, Sammy's is a good place too, although their pina coladas aren't quite at the same standard as at Melodie. It was lovely to see N, though again, it was sad to say goodbye.

To finish off my day I went round to F's for a hot drink. It was great fun chatting, as always, but tinged with bitterweetness because I knew that after all the times I've done this since September, this would be the last.

Posted by 3Traveller 00:17 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bulgaria veliko_tarnovo han_hadji_nikoli bulgarian_cuisine Comments (0)

Wandering around Varusha (Old Town)

Veliko Tarnovo


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This morning I went on a lovely walk around part of the Old Town that I hadn't been to before - up the hill directly above the craftsmen's street. Like most days at this time of year, it was beautifully sunny. The views were fantastic; trees, terracotta tiled roofs, the hills in the distance.

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After wandering some of the streets I went inside the church of Sveti Nikoli and lit a candle - the interior was dark and gloomy, but the iconostasis was still beautiful. Looking at it, I thought back to all the other places I've seen iconostases like this; Arbanasi, Sofia, Rila Monastery, Plovdiv, Bachkovo Monastery, Tryavna, Dryanovo Monastery, Sozopol, Nessebar, Preobrazhenski Monastery... now this one was to be the last I'd see in Bulgaria. It seemed fitting that it was in my home from home, Veliko Tarnovo.

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Another 'last time' then followed; I had lunch at an old favourite, Stratilat café. Then I bought myself a copper jug from the coppersmith and a cowbell from another place on the craftsmen's street.

In the evening I started to sort stuff out for packing.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:46 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bulgaria veliko_tarnovo orthodox_church Comments (0)

Last stay in Sofia; the Ladies' Market calls

Sofia


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Yesterday morning Dave said goodbye to Veliko Tarnovo as we caught the 10.30 bus to Sofia. When I bought the tickets it felt strange to be speaking Bulgarian again after not having done so in the previous two and half weeks.

The 3.5 hour journey was uneventful, though we did see some sunflower fields. After taking a taxi to Hostel Mostel and settling into our private room, we headed out for a late lunch at our favourite place; if you've read any of my recent Sofia entries, you might guess where this is - a small pizza café at the junction between the Court of Justice and Boulevard Vitosha. Delicious, handmade on site, large slices and cheap.

After that we thought about going to the Ladies' Market, but then had the thought that it would probably be better to visit it in the morning. Stalls might be running out of stuff and packing up by this time in the afternoon. With that in mind, we headed back to the hostel and had a nap, played pool, had our free dinner and used the internet until it was time for an early night.

We went to the Ladies' Market in the morning, as we had intended. This market was the one place I had seen recommended but hadn't actually been to yet in all my previous visits to Sofia, so I was particularly keen to go. Not only was this Dave's last time in Sofia, it was mine as well. When I leave Bulgaria in a few days' time, it will be by train from Gorna Oryahovitsa, a town five minutes' drive from Veliko Tarnovo. The market was well worth a look-around, as it seemed to have some of pretty much everything. We didn't buy any of all the fresh produce around (though if we had been here for another night I would have bought some to cook for dinner), but I did get some crystallised kumquats.

Once we got back from there, we packed up, checked out and took a taxi to the airport. I was sad to be leaving Hostel Mostel for the last time. The staff were all nice but one girl in particular was always especially so. At check out I made sure to tell her how much I had enjoyed coming here.

After saying goodbye to Dave at the airport, I took a taxi to the bus station and got on the next bus back to Veliko Tarnovo.

Posted by 3Traveller 00:11 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged market airport hostel buses dave sofia bulgarian bulgaria veliko_tarnovo Comments (0)

Dave's last day in Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo


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We arrived back in Veliko Tarnovo quite early in the morning. Although we had managed a reasonable amount of sleep for a bus journey, we were still extremely bleary and tired, so the first thing we did was lie down to nap for a few hours. Then the afternoon was filled with sorting out all the photos we'd taken over the last two and a half weeks, doing washing and sorting out our packing.

Late afternoon/ early evening we walked to Shtastlevitsa (the Lucky Man) via the craftsmen's street. Dinner was typically delicious; to go with it we shared a litre bottle of elderflower cordial mixed with water, ice, lemon slices, sugar and mint.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:42 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged dave bulgaria veliko_tarnovo Comments (0)

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