Tag Archives: backpacking

Veliko Tarnovo

We decided to go to Veliko Tarnovo on a whim (like much of our trip). We had met some backpackers in Hungary who had loved the city and recommended it highly, so we decided to stop by for a couple of days. Our train from Romania was supposed to get in at 7pm, but unknown to us, the Bulgarian railway employees had gone on strike the day before so we kept mysteriously stopping for forty minutes at a time, meaning we arrived closer to 10pm. Luckily our hostel was very accommodating and sent a cab to pick us up from the station. The guy working at the hostel, Damien, turned out to be a really nice guy – he gave us a bunch of helpful tips and he and his business partner (a German guy) were really cool to hang out with. They also provided both breakfast and dinner – a real plus! Also staying in our room was a Canadian couple from Newfoundland (there appear to be Canadians everywhere) who had been caught in the train strike the day before – so we commiserated for awhile and got some hints on where to eat in town before we headed out for a very late supper. The food was good, but basic and unfortunately Janice wasn’t feeling well so we headed back to the hostel to sleep. Veliko Tarnovo is quite a small town and we really got that impression after running into Damien on the street (less than 3 hours in town and we already recognize people!). Also on the way home we noticed the town was plastered with posters for some type of live event going on that night – however the posters didn’t make it clear if said event was a boy band group performance or a bunch of male strippers – so we decided not to risk it and let Janice sleep off her headache instead!

Fortress

Walking to the Fortress

The next day we got up early, had breakfast at the hostel and headed out to see the fortress. It was only a ten minute walk from our hostel to the entrance and there were very few people around off-season and early in the morning. One of the first things we noticed was that the site, aside from being pretty well preserved and beautiful, had very few safety precautions. A few signs warned of that fact and told us this was for ‘authenticity’ reasons. These signs also asked us not to die. After such a thorough warning we wandered off through the fort, possibly taking a few more risks climbing the walls than the owner’s of the signs would have liked. We found the ruins of a 4th century church and monastery on the far side of the fort and read the accompanying sign that declared the rock jutting out from the cliff was called Execution Point, because prisoners used to be thrown off from there. Nasty old monks…

Ruins at the Castle

At the top of the fortress there was another interesting (but less old) church with some of the most unusual modern style paintings decorating the interior. We spent a bunch of time there, ogling the art before heading back into town and wandering through some of the old streets with very classic Bulgarian architecture and wandering through a few more churches before stumbling on a 1 lev store – the equivalent of a dollar store. We decided to check it out and were amused to discover they sold a wide variety of undergarments, including many highly padded bras. Apparently Bulgarian women like their cheap bras so padded there’s no room for anything else in them! We headed back to the hostel for supper and met a group of American girls who were studying in Bulgaria, so we spent the night chatting with them and making new friends! The next morning, Damien, helpful as always, called us a cab and sent us off to the bus station to catch our bus to Sofia.

Church in town

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