Philippopolis

Trip Start May 19, 2006
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30
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Trip End Sep 26, 2006


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The next stop is supposedly Bulgaria's best city, the ancient city of Philippopolis (if you havent noticed, im trying to use classical names when i can as they are much nicer i think). Also, i apologise if the spelling is poor, im using a strange cyrilic keyboard.

The city is full of roman ruins, and the old town is ontop of a rocky hill, on one side of which is the ancient theatre, which looks very nice at night when its all lit up, and on the other Thracian ruins which are about 7 thousand years old. So obviously there is a lot of history in the place. Unfortunately there didnt seem to be much else. It is much more of a tourist destination then Sofia is, and seems to lack a fair bit of character as a result. The main street is just your usual upmarket boutiques and italian ice cream stores you find in most cities. The ruins that are there are very nice, but in what seems typical Bulgarian fashion they have either been completely built over or are surrounded on all sides by ugly concrete blocks. Sheesh.

The old town though is very fun. It is all old wooden houses which lean over one another and the cobbled streets. On my second day there i went out hiking past a series of monastaries which lead up into the side of the mountains. Some of the monastaries there have been cut out of the cliff side and are very interesting. Plus there are great views into the mountains themselves. I also hiked up to a fortress overlooking them all, which was rather challening but well worth it. To cap it all of had the fun of trying to negotiate a menu written completely in Bulgarian. Its pretty tricky, especially when your trying to avoid the local staples such as goats tongue, chicken hearts and beef gizzards. I also hear raw pigs fat is a common meal, with a side of tripe soup. Yum.

The Bulgarian countryside has been amazing, as i think i may have mentioned in my last entry. The hikes have been brilliant. Also the hostels here are really good (and cheap!), you meet lots of really cool people here. For the past week or so i have been travelling with Germans, Poms, French, Spanish and Canadian backpackers, as well as the odd Aussie and an old Kiwi couple. The only down side is getting used to the Bulgarian bathrooms, the toilet and shower are together (as in literally on top of each other), and most toilets are of the ol' hole in the floor variety. You really dont want to drop your soap.
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