Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria – 28th July, 2010
The train from Brasov to Bucharest was slow and painful. But I make it and then book my ticket on a train to Veliko Tarnovo. Which is in Bulgaria. It sounded delightful on the internet. Now I find out why it isn’t.
The first bit of the journey is fine. Until I’m told to get off at a station at 2am in the evening. Which would be fine. If the station didn’t smell like utter vile piss. I had to wait around for 4 hours for the next train. Which was absolutely the time of my life. Being surrounded by bad smelling homeless people and stray dogs literally pissing on the floor. It was a blast – especially spooning my backpack so nothing got stolen.
So the train to Veliko gets in bright and early in the morning….its a bit of a hike to the hostel. And I can’t exactly cab it as there is no taxi. So its a hike at 6 in the morning. Which sucks. And is made even more annoying by the homeless guy following me and asking for food by rubbing his stomach and pretending to put a spoon in his mouth.
The hostel is quite empty when I get there. And I lay on the pillows that are the ‘couch’ and pass out from tiredness. Til I’m delicately woken up by Tania the hostel receptionist. She’s got a bed for me to snooze on. Which is nice of her. So I crash for a bit there before sussing out what to do today.
I run into two American’s Justin and Will. We start by trying to organise a day trip for tomorrow and then decide we’ll have a wander around town before heading to the Fortress.
We wander up Gurk Street to go into the main street. Where we are stopped by a motley looking Bulgarian who sparks up a conversation with us. Which was nice at first it was an interesting conversation about politics in Bulgaria and how corrupt it still is. To him asking us – after 30 minutes of talking if he can take us on a tour tomorrow. We politely decline as we have made arrangements. Then he has the tenacity to actually go ‘Well if you can spare a few Leva’s for me that would be good’. Bloody con artists are everywhere…we say we don’t have any on us and we leave quickly.
We go wandering around to find a restaurant called Vinarrata which literally means Vine yard. But its not as packed as the one LP and every other guide book recommends. The service good and the meatballs fantastic. Gotta love that. Its pretty cheap too. About 5 euros for a beer and meatball dish.
We then walk up into the hills. To a part called Varousha. Its a small area but the buildings here are pretty enough to warrant a bit of a wander through.
We then make our way to the Tsarevets Fotress and on the way run into garret and Lucy. The fortress itself is the main drawcard for Veliko. As Veliko used to the ancient capital the fortress was home to some 20+ kings.
We wander up – its a Thursday so its free entry day…Score! And we notice a sign that has a few things not to do like stand on the wall with one leg and try to dance, sitting forward and sitting backward. Now if you want such behaviour to not occur, than don’t put a sign there. Because I’m sure it put a lot of ideas into a young Australians head.
We keep wandering up the walls of the fortress to Executioners rock. This is where the traitors where executed by being pushed off the edge of a rock and straight into the Yantra River below. Its an impressive fall down. But the views out across from the rock are pretty amazing.
We head on back via a cafe with cheap beer and then head up to the Patriach’s Complex where the church is closed but the lady opens it up to us for a minute to let us have a look inside. Its pretty weird being in an ancient church with modern graffiti like paintings inside. Weird.
We go back to the hostel where we grab a few beers and mingle with others. As well as enjoy the free dinner which is just spaghetti…but its better than nothing. And considering the massive feast we had for lunch its not bad.
The bells toll at the Tsarevets Fortress which means one thing at night – the light show is about to begin. So a few of us head on up to the watch the light show. Which is fine, nothing special. Its just a bunch of lights lighting up the castle grounds.
We then head on out to a bar for a few drinks at Spider Club. Which isn’t a club but a bar. But its not bad and you cannot complain with 1 euro beers. I do complain about the idiots who get into our shout but then when its their turn to shout basically refuse to buy anyone else a beer. Dicks.
The UFO Building.
So its up, a shade on the rusty side but after a bit of breakky the 6 of us head off to this strange building that is about 2 hours drive away. Its a bit of a nauseating ride up but I do get a bit of shut eye.
We pull up below the Bulzludzha (the UFO building). And the thing is completely unexpected. Its massive. Huge. and in the middle of nowhere.
There is a huge statue from this lookout below. Its of two huge torches. One is Russia. The other Bulgaria. It symbolises the unification of each. Its just madness that its so far from anywhere.
We then head up to Bulzludzha and the building itself. Its run down on the outside. And after the mandatory tourist photos we head on inside the bubble of cement.
Jumping through a side window thats been smashed is odd. And its straight into a pile of rubble and then down some stairs. And then into a cloak room. Which is demolished and just in ruins.
We then walk up two flights of stairs. To the main room. Which is a cavernous little circus pit. The circular walls are mosaic with depictions of Soviet/Communist themes. The top of the room has the hammer and sickle synonymous with the USSR and communism. Its definitely a sight to hold. It was originally a convention centre…which makes NO sense what so ever as its in the middle of nowhere.
I go for a walk around the outside – it garners 360 degree views around the surrounding hills and valleys. The tour leader drops a firecracker off inside – the vibration and echos where intense. Its also a little surreal standing in the middle of the main room and stomping your feet. Or even yelling something out. Its a strange sensation.
We make our way down and then head off to Tryavna – which is a little village famed for wood carvings. Where we have a late lunch and a few beers before making the way back to the hostel.
A Lazy Day in V.T.
Not a lot happens today. I get lunch at Shtlastlivetsa…the one LP recommends and it takes an age to get served and have my food brought out to me. I’m a little unimpressed though compared to the one next door.
I go for a walk across the river, where the museum is and a bunch of statues are. Before making my up to the bird man statue. Its not a big day.
I head back and chill out for the afternoon in the coolness of the hostel. I run into Matt from Brasov and we get talking and drinking. Its not long before he’s wanting to go hit the town. We get a few people involved a few dutch and a few brits. And we set off to Spider Club again. Its more packed then the other night. Its not a bad evening. And the 2 dutch girls and I bail at about 2-3am and head back to the hostel to crash for the evening.
A late start as its not sunny. And we’re also waiting for the 2 dutch girls to get there act together so we can head to this swimming hole that is nearby. Though they never surface. And we leave without them. Its not long and we’re made our way to Kapino which has numerous cliffs and waterfalls to swim about.
We basically run amok and swim for about 3-4 hours. Jumping off cliffs. And going down little waterfalls. Its not a bad way to spend the day.
We go have some food at a little cafe up top. Which is dirt cheap. Before flying back to the hostel in V.T for dinner and some beer with the 2 dutch girls (Nikki and Kim) and we play cards and have a few drinks. Its not exciting. But it does the trick before hitting the sack.