Sep 04, 2007
Dec 03, 2007
In 3 days in Bulgaria Ive spent the equivalence of dollars compared to one day in Rome . I eat 3 course meals and have a drink for less than 7 dollars. I have a bed for 10 dollars a night. I booked a train to romania for 8 dollars. Why did I not come here sooner!?! ANd that is only praising the inexpensive living. THere is so much more to Bulgaria than I previously expected. First off, judging from the employees at the hostels Ive stayed at, the Bulgarians are the most hospitable people in the world. This is the way hostels should be. I am in Veliko Turnovo right now, the second town Ive stayed in, basically staying at someones home. Everything is so personable. They make you fell like you are at home. And it looks like someones home. The hostel I am in right now goes by the name Nomad hostel. Here, they make their own cheese, milk, jam, honey, and the owner and one of the employees left today to go slaughter a pig in Zagora. We help out doing chores if they ask. Everyone is so friendly to one another it feels like family. And it practically is, being only 4 guest and 3 workers here. MY first experience of Bulgaria was in Plovdiv. I coincidentally ran into a travel companion, Duncan, whom I had met on the ferry from Italy to Greece. The secret at work, right Robby. ANd at the hostel I met another young traveler from England and a bit older Scottish fellow. ANother very hospitable and nearly empty hostel. Everyone staying there, all 7 of us went out to dinner together the one night I was there. I love bulgarian dining. They have no concept of courses. If you order an appetizer, a salad, and a meal, they bring it all out at once. The Bulgarians dont really eat either, or if they do it is between cigarettes. One of the only cultures, if not the only culture I have see that eats with a fork in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The restaurant had a very warm feeling to it, with a fire blazing in the corner, timber everything, and a energetic talkative crowd. Such a good time. We talked for ages, eating, sipping on bulgarian beer. My second night in Bulgaria, spent here in Veliko, I also went out to dinner. Here I met a british man, Thomas, who is working here temporarily as an english teacher. Here we enjoyed ourselves by reading the ridiculous english translations of the wine menu. At one point the description read"....With an odor of blue" Just ridiculous statements like that. I also discovered the Bulgarian homemade drink, Rakia. Every home makes their own, and they drink i like water. It is surprisingly smooth and very pure. During the days I have enjoyed myself by wandering the old cobblestone streets. In both cities their is a very large old section of town where all of the buildings date back to the 19th century. In Plovdiv there are several ancient roman/greek ruins of amphitheaters and forums from the byzantine empire. There is also noticeable traits of the Ottoman occupancy with a mosque in Plovdiv. I heard a cool little urban myth/anecdote the other day that probably isnt true but seems logical, the first part is true: In Bulgaria nodding your head means no and shaking it means yes (so the opposite of the rest of the world) Supposedly, when the Ottomans occupied Bulgaria, they would hold their swords to the throats of the Bulgarians asking them if they accept the Islamic Faith. If they shook their heads they would be killed, if they nodded they lived. They did not want to accept the faith but they also did not want to die, Hence the nodding meaning no. Today I found my way to some hiking trails above the town in the hills/mountains and forests. So tranquil and refreshing. It felt so good being out there. I did not see another soul while I was hiking, so I naturally belted out songs at the top of my voice keeping myself company. Bulgaria has some great landscapes that I never would have known. On my bus ride from Plovdiv to Taranovo we ascended a mountain. I did not even know we were on a mountain (because it was so foggy early in the morning and the mountain was engulfed by a cloud) until I looked at the ground and there was heaps of snow. When we began the descent the clouds parted and I got my first taste of Bulgarian landscape. It reminded me a bit of Lutsen, MN, so beautiful. The ride on the mountain was a bit frightening if I do say. THe driver was passing trucks on the 2 lane road and we could barely see 100 yards ahead of us. Plus the fact that every 300 yards there was a switch back. BUt we made it out alive. I have a lot more to say, but i feel ive written too much already so I will leave it at this. Tomorrow Im heading to Brasov, Romania. I wish I could stay here longer but I have to be in Vienna by the 20th to stay with a Servas host. But I am sure I will be back someday.