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AT#691 - Travel to Bulgaria


The bags back on the road and read it's real fast board amateur traveler episode six hundred ninety one today. The amateur traveler talks about craftsman and churches one last stand Communism Byzantine Ottomans and Thracians as we go to the country of Bulgaria. Welcome to the amateur traveler. I'm your host Chris Christopherson with no further ado. Let's talk about a road trip through Bulgaria. I'd like to welcome to the show. Tom and Patty Burkett. Who are coming to us from Ohio but come to talk to us about Bulgaria? Tom Common Patty welcome to the show. Thank you hi there. And what is your connection Bulgaria. Well I have a cousin who's in the. US Foreign Service listen. He's posted in Bulgaria currently and is married to a Bulgarian woman and we decided to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary that we would like to do a trip that that was a bit more exotic than we usually do and that since we had a connection there in Bulgaria and had heard on your show that Bulgaria it is a country that is more like your might have been several decades ago that it would be an interesting place to visit and we discovered that that was absolutely true. And I think that feeds into my next question which is why should someone go to Bulgaria. Well interestingly we got that question lot from all of our friends and family I have. I'm not surprised and actually also from many Bulgarians who said why. Why did you come here? I think one of the really exciting exciting things about Bulgaria. It's on the crossroads of history. The Turkish empire the Roman Empire Communism. And so it's an absolutely fascinating location. You're interested in the development of culture. I'd add two things to that. I that we started out the trip by spending a couple of three days in Munich and Budapest and Vienna and we were amazed at the difference in tourist fatigue between those cities and our visit in Bulgaria and Bulgaria. We were the interesting interesting thing that was happening to them. Rather than the other way around some people in small towns would go out of their way to call somebody up and say. Hey they're Americans here. Come look at. Oh that's hilarious. Excellent well kind of I recommend for us. We spent more than three weeks driving around the country and we prefer to avoid for the most part areas that are highly touristed and we recommend starting in Velika turnover which is the old capital of Bulgaria and driving through the country to the Black Sea coast and spending a bit of time. There are and then driving on mush more southerly route and ending up in Plovdiv and taking some day trips from Bo Velika Tore Novo and plugged it. Okay excellent well. Let's start that immortal. You started in. You flew into Sophia and we did about. He has a good story about arriving there. And and the surly alphabet renew knew ahead of time that we might not find people who could speak English. So you're prepared for that and we knew of course that the CYRILLIC alphabet was different and we had done a little. Oh studying before we went pretty hard to get it in your brain so we got there pretty fatigued after flying. Think we had to take two flights to get there anyways as we got in. We had to rent a car. We're getting to our AIRBNB about dusk. And all of a sudden it hit us as we were trying to park our car and we could not read anything on any street signs except every one of them had a tow truck on the bottom so we finally sort award of figured out that thinks said things like well nineteen hundred eight. Am sounds like maybe you can park your overnight and so we punt with some of that and that we did have to say had a moment where we between our fatigue and trying to park this car in the country we were really unfamiliar with. We looked at each other and wondered if we'd bitten off more than we could chew but we actually ended up within an hour of that finding a friendly face at a restaurant and spoken Galician relation. Who helped clarify that? We had actually interpreted the sign correctly and we found US bought park. It was good to park at until later. Eight thirty the following following morning and the following morning we got down about fifteen minutes before the deadline expired to discover that someone had parked behind us and the car even in such a way that we couldn't possibly get it out so we're standing there wondering exactly what we should do about that in a woman got out of a nearby. You're by car that she was parking and pointed at the sign. As if to say you shouldn't park here after eight thirty and we were thinking that boy we would like to be able to get out of there if we could. Fortunately maybe someone was looking from a nearby window and who was not partisan and came back and moved it so he could get out. Welcome to Bulgaria exactly and this was in Sophea and we drove out so-fi later that day and we're not sad to see it in the Rear Review Mirror for at least a few days. Excellent will you start at us then in Velika turnover yes Adele. Novo is the first capital a Bulgarian. And it's a beautiful city. And there's a large fortress there that sits up on a hill and it has a sound and light light show that operates most nights of the year. I occasionally. It's not working but there's music and narration and the city is situated on several hill. Also we were on a hill that faced the castle so from the balcony of our apartment. We were able to watch the light show at night. We couldn't hear the narration but we could the music and we could watch the lights. Change of the fortress walls light up and the castle keep light up and it was very matic and an interesting to seem all in Bulgarian. Rian internal Danny's okay set off by the moon and the stars. It was romantic and fascinating and we were able to stay in a an apartment apartment. That was just along the craftsperson street there in Velika Tore Novo shops. The ones that weren't restaurants or little grocery stores were operated by artisans who were wood carvers and icon painters and potters and they all were all there practicing their craft. We could walk down the street read and visit with them and see the things that they were working on. It was really delightful. The street was over Hong with umbrellas so at night they had those lint it and it was very romantic as well. I'M GONNA guess you're talking about the some of SCA car Shia the Complex well in Velika turnover. I would say that was that was an ideal location. Because it's a very hilly city so you're able to do a lot of up and down hill walking. That was the place for her to be at your central location because we can walk to those vendors and then there are other places in the city we could drive to but we felt that that was a great location to be centered in. And were you finding out through Airbnb or through some local site. Or how does your apartment on AIRBNB. Yep We did use AIRBNB and we did USA local connections for some of the lodgings we stayed and when we were there as well but not that one that was airbnb like we found the AIRBNB. Were we had good luck with them. The the quality of them were described accurately. It was a little bit more rustic of somebody's a high end traveler. These were not that okay. It was what we were looking for. We were in somebody's home. We had our own area of the home with their own patio but was not a luxury but it put us right where we wanted to be excellent. One thing that I note about Bellcore Novo is it is on hilts and so if you have any mobility issues as we with our older older joint sometimes do the combination of hills and cobblestones something. You need to be careful of and something. You'd want to pay attention to when you were choosing where you he wanted to stay if you've heard his name when else do we want to see. Well we're in Velika turnover while we were there. We took a couple of day. Trips on one of them went to visit something. Something called the booed Lucia meeting center or booed Luge Memorial. It's a gigantic assembly center. That was built during the communist era. Ready to host Communist Committee meetings and looks like a flying saucer perched on the top of a mountain and has a big spire standing next next to it and then some monument or sculptures that surrounded at lower levels on the mountain and it was really an extraordinarily thing to visit. I would have to say of all the things we visited it. It's one of the things that stands out the most. We had to work a little bit to get to it. You had to drive quite a ways to get to it scattered throughout the country country. There's remnants of the communist era. There's a fair amount of communist era statues and this place is crumbling in a sense now. There's some talk of trying to restore it but because it's crumbling. It's almost a mysterious symbolic remembrance of the communist era and it's huge you come to it from a distance. You really can't imagine how you huge it is until you actually are on top of it so there's no visitor center. There's there's no people they're they're they were. Maybe six other people visiting it feel like you've accomplished something just getting there and it was. It was striking and I'm just looking at some of the history of this and it looks like the Bulgarians in eighteen sixty eight photo would sound like the Bulgarian Alamo. There if he will. We're a small band of Bulgarians were defeated by a larger band of Ottoman Turks but only for Bulgarian survived but that helped helped spur the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman ten years later. So that's why the historic significance of this but as you say built not way back then but built during the Communist Mirror is the battle you're talking about is the battle of Shipka pass okay. The monument is built near the top of ship capacity. We approached on this trip from the north side of the past. When we went out from POB DEB on another day trip which will talk about a little bit later? We went up to the southern side of the past. And there's a church there that memorialize the battle and the people killed in it and there's some interesting stories to tell about that but that battle which included assistance from the Russians MHM is important in Bulgarian history and cemented the relationship between those two countries that allowed for a lot of the things that happen in Bulgaria Gary during the Communist Era Interesting Oak log. Irian's actually are pretty certainly can't speak as a Bulgarian but they had a warm review of the Russians actions because what too much about communism what they talk about is the five hundred years of Turkish rule. They call it the Ottoman yoke and the Russians helped them through this battle and some other things helped defeat that come out from underneath Turkish rule that you see many many sculptures around the country with the year eighteen sixty eight on it Interesting from Bill Tore Novo to other trips that are worth taking our to visit the Atar ethnographic Lake village and across Bulgaria several ethnographic villages their living history centers and each one has a different focus. But the Atar village is focused focused on crafts that are done using water power so the entire bridge runs on a mill race that lets off water water to a number of different businesses in each one of them. The water runs different kinds of things. There's a fulling mill. There's a a sharpening place where we're goals can be sharpened. There's a leather working shop. Several metalworking shops and in those there are artisans practicing those traditional traditional crafts as well. This is more of a tourist focused center. But I would say more for Bulgarians than it is for people visiting from outside of the country so they can learn about their own national craft in history hookah and the other place that we visited on a day trip from Velika. Tore Nova was Triana. Briana entry ominous at the foot of a mountain pass and a number of cities in Bulgaria at the foot of mountain passes got a special dispensation during during the time of the Ottoman rule. If they were willing to protect the mountain pass from incursion than the Ottomans would leave them alone to run their own business and run run their own government and so those cities were places where a lot of national history and culture were preserved because they were not subject to those Ottoman influences during the at time entry ominous as center for icon painting and wood carving and we enjoyed visiting a couple of places. There that were really really outstanding. Examples of wood carving art including a House that was built for a merchant that had carved ceilings that resulted from a contest contest between a master carbon his apprentice. It's a really a really entertaining story. But it's maybe a little too long to get into here okay where to next. Oh One more thing I could say about reality is that there is a national folk school there where they teach a variety of different arts and one of the things we enjoyed while we were there was wandering through town and seeing groups of students everywhere out on the street working on class assignments. They were sketching or painting painting or studying wood. Carvings that were or stone carvings door parts of the buildings that were there in the city and and seems very much like a town that has its own life and we were able to walk through the school and part of it is working as a school and part of it is preserved showing what the school was like a century ago. That was fun Disney. And there's also a gallery there that has rotating exhibits of national artists and that was fun to see excellent after we left Velika Tarnovo or Novo. We spent a few evenings there and then took these day trips than we drove east through the countryside and our destination was the Black Sea coast the way we drove through the town of Kotel which is a traditional center for Weaving and we were looking for US museum there that had both wood carving and weaving in it. And we I ended up at another national folk school that was had a big section. That was under construction and they chased us off and said now now. This isn't what you're looking for. We found that the museum and spectacular woven goods made from mostly Lee. She will go care. Dyed with natural dyes and there were rooms that were covered with floor wall ceiling and stacked up on every Michelle. You could see in the variety of color who's really an eiffel now. I think it might be important to say 'cause when you describe that as a museum a lot of things deserve again stepping back in time their rustic they're not as developed. There's not the infrastructure so this museum which was full of lots. What's of like? Tom Says really beautiful things to see was really basically the two story House Oscars about four or five rooms and there was not a lot live. Interpretive sign age or anything again. I think when you go to a place like Bulgaria part of it is the quest and being satisfied side with yourself for finding these things and feeling like you're someplace that maybe not a lot of people I've ever been. There can't go in with Western expectations of. Oh I'm GonNa even have wonderful signs that they're going to tell me everything about what's here. It's partly the adventure of finding these things and then maybe using google to look up. What some of them are or or Google translate to read the sign? Will you talk about a quest. I'm guessing that giving you had troubles finding some of these places that you decided added that you have a love for craft and that sort of things and that's why you picked out these places and were seeking them out that it wasn't just the to stumble across these places. Tom's a big planner before we go did a lot of research before we went. And so yes some of these towns. We went to for that very reason. We'd heard might say combination of the crafts work but also culture think we have learning about how a culture developed what part of the culture war the roots of. What what you're seeing today? Where did the culture that we're seeing today? Come from probably for me. The two most satisfying things about this trip. Worst first of all to learn in about an entire history that I had not been familiar with before I said that my world his education was sorely lacking because it ignored in everything that happened in Bulgaria in the course of five hundred years. And it's a really rich and interesting history. They have there and the thing that I really enjoyed was the difficulty difficulty that we had in. Finding these places of difficulties may be distressed. But the work that you had to go to to find. It really gave us a sense that we were entering into do the culture of this place rather than looking at a cultural picture that had been constructed for us by someone so that as as Westerners we could understand it was the real deal where next we went on a long east to the Black Sea coast and since it was our fortieth wedding aniversary. We decided we were going to do something. That was a wedding sports. And so we went to the resorts and resorts neighbor. And Sa's Opel along the Black Sea coast hosed and we didn't understand when we decided that we would do that that these resorts are resorts from antiquity. Oh Okay and I. flaky stopped and to savor was nicknamed the city of Churches or the town of churches and there were dozens and dozens of churches and chapels that had been built over over over a thousand years mostly having to do with the sea and the industry of voyaging and fishing and the sailors. I would go out never knowing if they were going to be coming back again and the people who both mourn them in anticipated. They're coming back but it's very very old town. And most of the buildings are constructed of stone and some of them are ruins and some of them are still in use is relatively small area easily walkable on foot and when we pulled in we got to a gate that said You're only allowed past here if you have a permit so we called the hotel we were staying they said. Oh Yeah you have to park in the parking lot and we'll send somebody down to get you and that's one of the pieces of advice we give to anyone who's going. There is make sure you find a place to stay. That is in that. No Saber old town because you can easily get around on foot but it's difficult to get to in a vehicle right if you can even get in there. I mean you have to have a pass to be able to get into the old town A less expensive option would have been to stay outside of the town and say oh. We'll go in there for a day trip but really one of the charming things was being there overnight. Seeing it quiet down for the evening and then wake up in the morning there are plenty any of tourists who do come just for the day. It was quite special being there overnight. And when you've seen more expensive more expensive by a Bulgarian standpoint or nothing. Everything was very expensive. I mean that was what the other fun things about going to Bulgaria. We didn't say that was another reason to go. Your money goes a long way and so you you get to do a Lotta things style that you wouldn't normally be able to do them if you're some somewhat of a budget traveler. So what kind of budget would I need for this sort of thing. For instance for the Black Sea resort is the most expensive place we stayed and we stayed in an old hotel a third floor room with the balcony overlooking overlooking the Black Sea and I think it was sixty dollars a night as expensive rooms in town and we can walk from there down onto the Black Sea it was September and it had been called before and it was gonna be cold and rainy not really cold but the weather was going to. Guns was going to shift but that evening when we arrived it was ninety degrees is like I am here. I am swimming in the Black Sea and so we walk down to the beach there and we were able to swim in the Black Sea and that was a thrill to be that close and have that as a possibility. Now I will say. Tom Said we chose to stay in the resort areas. I think think it would be important to say to not get confused. There are some modern resort areas that I would recommend not going to the what you WanNa do is see the old cities ladies and be in these really unique locations. I think there's some high-rise beaches just down the road for the type of travel we do. That would not have been as appealing as where we did. Stay in an. I didn't quite find where you stayed on the map. I know a lot of people talking about going to Varna. Pitcher further south yes it's Sabre N. E. S. S. E.. A our county is also a really great archaeology museum. Their I mean their history goes back to the thracians. who were there five thousand years ago in the range of history that you're also getting to see antiquities from his mind boggling an American yes? We had advice from a couple of people that in some of the places we went it would be good idea to hire a guide and we did here and it was in the sabre and it was a man who was on the staff of the archaeological museum there and he walked around town a couple of the old churches and told us about the history and walked us through the museum. And I don't know if other people are like me but I began to get museum fatigue. And you see a lot of old pottery things stone things and old would things and pretty soon and you know. It's just another old pottery thing even though it's a fascinating artifact from five thousand years ago and he was able to tell the stories of these things really bring them to life for whereas there was a a display that showed types of anchors that had been used along the coast over the course of six millennia. Okay and you'll vist one on their with Iraq with a couple of holes punched in sharpened sticks through the whole any said. Oh Yeah. He said we took that out and tried it. It works really well. The people from the museum taking these things out and try them in the harbor but one of the things we enjoyed in our time with him is that we had a long conversation about the orthodox religion and about religious practices over the history of Bulgaria. And how how those had both influenced the culture and been influenced by the culture so taking the opportunity to talk with a local person really gives you an opportunity enrich your understanding of why it places the way it is well and I think especially. It's a culture that we don't have a lot of knowledge about and there were things that were foreign enough to officer confusing that we had questions that would come up. We would would ask each other questions about. Why do you think this is important so to have a half a day spent with a smart local person to answer? Some of those questions begin single. Who could speak English? Right was really nice and on a longer trip like that we were there for three weeks was a chance to ask some clarifying questions. Which I so I would recommend guide? It's it's not something we'd ever done before and I wouldn't want one all the time but it was helpful that the recent you'd mentioned this as a city of churches and the questions asked why so many churches and we didn't say is this dates back to a time in the Roman Empire what we now call the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome but they called the Roman Empire where this was a place where the emperor would send people that had gotten in trouble the and the emperor but he didn't want to kill them as they were in exile here and they all built their own family church because they were wealthy. People who had got in trouble with the emperor of you weren't wealthy when you get in trouble you got your head Cup chopped off. And so that's why they used to be more than forty churches on this little island. We didn't hear that story. We were there but that certainly does explain why there were so many of them by guys. They were a lot of judges. Yeah well it sounds like not all of them even are in existence anymore there so so they used to be more a lot of them are ruins now and we can move along from newspaper with the young man. We had as a guide their recommended many to us we will. We might want to stop this town as we were moving south along the coast called Kamori which was his hometown. He said there's a salt works there. That's really interesting and so we did. And we left neighbor. We have in south down towards his Opel and we stopped and Primorje and wound our way eight through an industrial area and through a bunch of these old communist Fifteen or twenty storey cement apartment shirt and out Out On little isthmus. That sticks out into the sea was the pool. Maury salt works in the salt. Works have been in operation since the time that the thracians were there and were operated. Two Great Prophet by the Ottomans during their time and much of the original equipment is still there and still operation made out of wood. hand-carved pegues eggs being operated by draft animals and salt harvesting ponds terms of the Black Sea. And and so they've battle museum there which was not a particularly good museum in the sense that we weren't able to understand much of the displays that were in it but it was really interesting thing to see the equipment and to see it operated to bring home with us a couple of big handfuls of salt from the Black Sea. Salt Shakers are filled with salt from there. Now they are ironically. You haven't heard the episode that the listeners will have heard last week because it from where we sit in time it will come out for four weeks but we talked about the Celtics in Taiwan just last week so important commodity. It was your salary whether whether you were the worth year assault. Both of those words in English talk about the value of salt in that time period. So we went on down the coast from there to Sukhpal which is another historic doc fishing town but it has at least in our experience that much more of a art since to it and there was a lot of contemporary work being done on thereby artists and as you walked through the town there were a lot of galleries and lot of stunning views and a lot of really nice restaurants. It seemed seemed to us a bit less historic than the sabre but still quite ancient and now she drove around or walked around. The street that was the perimeter are pretty much. Everything was a hotel and most of them had a really Nice restaurant in them. So a lot of choices for nice dining could seafood and again that was probably our most expensive meal probably caused thirty five or forty dollars for the staff of meal with several courses and two bottles of wine delicious dessert. And Yeah the best. Maybe the best thing we had on the entire trip was homemade homemade ice cream that was made with figs and walnuts get. We ate fresh figs for the first time on this trip. I've never seen a fake growing before. And they were really really quite tasty. Newer thinking just came in Newton's and their board of Newton so we enjoyed our stay as opal people and it was rainy. Most of the time we were there we had good view of the sky wasn't too low but it wasn't suitable for going out and getting into the water the way had been in the sabre. We enjoyed that so he headed back inland back toward clogged diff- and along the way we stopped in the city of gamble which I think a lot of people would miss if they were cultural explorers. The way we are in your attraction is that there's a tenth century mosque there and in a market that was associated with the mosque or the culture that constructed the mosque that neither one of them is still operating as originally intended the the mosque is closed. And the market's been turned into a museum with some shops in uh-huh but the mosque is stunning. In on a sunny day with the sun shining on and that spire was really something to see and the market is also very attractive and the museum inside. It is really interesting to see for two reasons. One is that there was a local archaeological expedition. That found some really unique artifacts. And I can't tell you what they are because we saw too many museums on this the trip but the other thing that was interesting as they have their large display of cookery costumes and cookery is a dance style style. That has a folklore that goes with it. That's practiced in a couple of areas of Bulgaria. Okay mic on stems and the masks for very elaborate and in in this museum. There are a number of costumes and masks dating from different historical periods of it. Were really fun to see in the woman who operated the museum. When we walked in we walked in? There is a meeting room on the first floor of this market and so we walked in the meeting room there was some displays they around the wall and we were looking at him and this woman came over and said well wouldn't. Would you like to see the museum but cost ten Lavar. Whenever was we said well is it? Is it worth and she said. Oh yes it's worth. She's I'll walk you through so the museum director walks to the museum and told us a bunch of stories about it and it's really has very nicely laid out. It does have good interpretation and in English English and a lot of really really well organized displays including some very contemporary things that involve computer generated imagery and buttons to push. I think that's another example of what we said at the beginning about the lack of tourist fatigue. You walk into place like that. And they're delighted that you're there. They have something they want WanNa share and if they speak English they like the chance to practice their English shirt. So charming feeling that you feel like they're really happy that you're there and it's a nice feeling. Well you mentioned masks and I'm looking at some of the photos of the cookery masks and they're not just facemask their whole elaborate heads in the decoration to look like animals to scare off evil spirits. It looks quite unique. Yes and some of the masks are three and four feet tall right. They're more like ed piece. Yeah it's a better description that's true Interesting we we enjoy that and my cousin. Who is they're working with? The State Department said that they've had the occasion while they've been there to go to a couple of khukri festivals and CDs eighties costumes and masks being used in the actual festival celebrations. And he said it really is. It's a spectacular thing to see. If we ever go back to Bulgaria. I will try to go at a time. When we can see those festivals that would be a treat well and it's interesting for me as you've been talking? I've been looking at some of the photos and following along with you. I have the the impression with some of the places especially in the Black Sea coast. We're talking about such charming cities that it's a little surprising to me still that it's more undiscovered. I don't know if you had the same reaction. I definitely agree with that. I think that was one of the things we hoped for when we went to Bulgaria. And I I think especially on the coast and plotted to which discovered you. You still feel like you've found something. Great that nobody knows about. And you're getting the chance to be there and see it and actually even some of the Bulgarians we met in different parts of Bulgaria. Many of them said Oh. Oh you're going places I've never been and it's not that big of a country I mean. It's about the size of Tennessee but I think that maybe the people there don't travel apple from their own individual regions as much a so. Many of the people we met were interested to hear about her experiences from other parts of the country interest is like finding earning a place that where you are truly a visitor where people carrying on their everyday lives. And doing what they always. Do you get to be there and be a part of that as supposed to participating in a culture that's focused on a tourist economy. Sure although those places where certainly there was tourist economy especially on the coast might have also helped that we you were there in September as opposed to the summer especially when we were in says. Oh people there was a little bit of a dead feeling to it which we didn't mind I mean we weren't really looking for nightlife Type stuff yeah but oh number of the hotels looked like they were maybe closing down for the season and that's something probably be aware of depending on what time of year you're traveling and you're actually looking for Well the thing is if I use the term undiscovered I really mean from. US point of view more so this region was the hot spot before the Iron Curtain came down. If you wanted to vacation anywhere in behind the Iron Curtain the black seacoast was one of the places that you would go and so it was probably very much hopping at the time and then lost some of that tourism as people could had other options basically but it it has been discovered obviously for two thousand years ago but less well known probably to this audience and we did hear especially when we were in the sabre abor. We heard a lot of people. Speaking Russian Scher Tourism Flows East to West into that probably APPs that little side comment to that. When we were in the sabre? We stopped to hear some music being played at a at a street cafe one night and it was a Bulgarian singing. An all Beatles program okay. There was a table of very loud liverpudlians who are encouraging singer on and singing along it seemed entirely out of context and very funny way. That's funny now. You had mentioned a story about a church. visited up in the past when you were in the Plovdiv side side of the pass but you were going to tell part of that later and I don't remember what you were GonNa tell leader all right when we get to plop Dave and talk about day-trips from there we'll talk about that and we can move onto clogged. Okay that's where we're headed right now. Well plum tubes just amazing and I think this year in particular it was the cultural city for the EU okay European capital capital of culture. Yes yes and I think that's something important to know that Bulgaria is part of the EU. So there are things certain areas where you see sort of development money money coming in her. which is I think making it more tourist friendly and especially when you're driving they use consistent road sign edge with the the rest of the EU? So there's things about that that are helpful you know so plugged it was all spruced up this is it's year when you say this is two thousand eighteen eighteen. Yeah that was two thousand. Nineteen it's going to carry over in the sense that puts them investment into the infrastructure. And doing things up. I would say two thousand nineteen they probably did have a heftier schedule of of activities than you might find now that two thousand and nineteen is over but plotted has a grand cadets drian walkway right through the center of it. That's always fun. Parking was challenging. So once you found your spot you you didn't really want to get your car out unless you absolutely. You had to. And we were able to find an airbnb on that pedestrian street. So that's what we did. We parked the car and then we walked the rest of the time. We were there and it sits on top of Roman ruins and they've done a fascinating job of exposing them in incorporating them into the city so as you walk down on that pedestrian walkway underneath that. There's an old Roman stadium okay. There's big open area in the Pasteurian walkway that has railings and you get to look down into the amphitheater. Walk out into it okay. So this is the ancient city of Philip Operas. Yes yes conquered by Philip. Basset on the father of Alexander. The great so you say Roman history even predating that by about three centuries interesting but these ruins are Roman era and they've done a beautiful job of preserving on but it's not like you're going to a site they're just part of the city. The city's cities life just flows in and out of them. Yeah and then. There's a big theater. That's also part of the city. And that's amazing. Story was buried landslide uncovered in the nineteen seventies and they have uncovered it and renovated it and it is now an actual venue for musical performances and theater performances performance is. It's open air. It's way up on a hill. She overlooks the city with mountains in the background. I mean it's it's beautiful after photos. I see a Plovdiv Arthur theater her so definitely a stunning and rightly so. Yeah it's pretty amazing and then there's a really cool arts district on the Capanna. MEANS THE MOUSE TRAP. Yeah because the streets rates are all short crooked and so it's supposedly feels like a mouse trap when you're in there that has lots of good restaurants in statues. We stayed right near there. It was very accessible city and again with all of the Roman stuff. Felt like something. Pretty special. One of these Patty's at about parking in driving. Just reminding me to say that. I don't think anyone should feel hesitant about renting a car and driving in Bulgaria. The roads were excellent the Zayn into his good even though it was in Sorolla and we didn't have any trouble as US drivers getting around using our way and there was no there was no problem with beliefs. Shed boings or anything that would deter you from running a car and taking trip and you should've. There's excellent Internet so you can pretty much count on using Google APPs. Okay even in a rural areas are cousin who works there and lives. There said he has better etter Internet in that country than he does when he's back here in the state interest I'm very inexpensive. We bought a Bulgarian Sin Carbon. We arrived in the country as we did in each of the countries we were visiting. And I don't suppose we spent fifteen or twenty dollars for a month's worth of high speed Internet access between the two of us that's like half an expensive meal. The other thing that you need to know is that you cannot rent a car elsewhere in Europe and drive into Bulgaria which is what we originally thought we were going to do okay has to do with insurance spirit several stories. Somebody said the people outside of Bulgaria think the cars are get ruined if they when they're in Bulgaria I don't know but that's something people need to now as you. We flew into Soviet rented our car from the car rental agencies that you can rent a car in Bulgaria and drive right out. You can't read a Gar- out of Bulgaria and drive it okay. Most all the cars are manual transmission. Sure can't get automatic transmission Asian Cup pretty much true in Europe. Yep by default you would expect a manual transmission car and you can reserve eight automatic often or a robot transmission. That was one I had recently which is halfway between almost like an automatic but not good back back in the seventies. Volkswagen offered something called an automatic stick. Yeah this is like that exactly from plopped if there are three side trips that we'd recommend and one of them is to see the Thracian Tombs and 'cause unlock and those are the Thracian tombs date back about five thousand years and this was a culture that came in from the south east of what's now Bulgaria and settled there in some of the fertile valleys and raised a lot of wine. I'm an delis to hear the Bulgarians talk about drank as much as they raised. Because they were notoriously drunk rations but the wealthy thracians built tombs and we went to visit the one in Kazanlak which is probably the most well known of them can't actually go into the to the tombs closed because they don't want to damage it but they built all right next door to it. An exact replica. Okay four or five people would be cozy in there but the walls are decorated with frescoes and the ceilings are painted. And it's really really interesting to see and you go through a little tunnel to get into it and they have a few little displays of funerary goods that might have been found in those tombs but there are a lot of of those around that area Bulgarian as we drove on the roads. We saw the their mounds missile. You can recognize them as you're driving past eight of them and the museum has preserved and operates four or five of those that you can go and visit on a schedule and tour geyser without tour guys so that was interesting and then that was on the way to see the church in Shipka which is on the south side of the Shipka pass this is our Russian Orthodox Church. It's just just what you would imagine and again if you look at pictures of Bulgaria. I'd be surprised if this wasn't one of the first two or three that popped up the Shipka church which has the gold onion onion domes Bryant painted and it has a massive set of bells that were cast from the bronze shell casings. That were recovered from the battle of Shipka pass ask okay the Bulgarian martyrs who died the Shipka Pass battle are all interred in the crypt of the Church in the church is beautiful and it sits on a hill. You can see it from quite far away but you can also walk up to it and walk through it. And that was a remarkable thing to see and beautiful and the third thing that we saw on our visit and this was a guide that we had a Soviet who took is from Sofia. Donde Melnik to the wine growing region said well you don't go go without seeing damage. CENA which is in the valley of the roses and Bulgaria has been known historically as a center of the production of rose oil used. I used for cosmetics and in a variety of other purposes. They grow roses. And then they distill the essence out of the roses and she said go see Damasceno while you're there so so we went to see it and it is a project that's been funded by the European Union and is clearly intended to be at a tourism generator and so we drove up not the worst roads the worst roads. We drove him bug A.. or the ones up to boost legit but the second worst rose I think were the ones into Damascene. And at one point we drove into a small town on the road was closed and there was an arrow directing us out of town we followed the Ales and it literally took us out into a cow pasture with herd of cows and we were driving through the herd of cows until we got to following the arrows and eventually dragged us back to the north side of town. They had closed the road all the way through town because they were doing some sort of excavating and then we drove onto Damn Santa and we drove onto the property and it was a six or seven acre asphalt. Parking lot the likes of which we did not seen anywhere in the country and the complex was the kind of thing you might find at an Orlando Universal Universal Studios. It was grand and done in marble and gold and had a pond with black swans and had a big building shaped ape like a basket that had restaurants on balconies looking at seals floor on the it was absolutely vacant. There was not the ought a person there except us and three or four workers and we. We went up to the gate to buy our past to go inside and this young man who who is selling tickets they said well could you show us around and he said I really can't because I'm the only person working and I can't leave the again admissions mission's gate here unattended. And he was funny thing he had his English was very good and Patty said well. You're really good. Where'd you learn it? And he said in school what anybody. Nobody learned their English. That's an interesting generational things so of a certain people of a certain age older than a certain age. All their second language is all Russian during the communist era when generally if you seek out the younger people. Most of them will speak English if you're looking for help he has an A.. Vera younger traveler learn and are likely to be interfacing with people of that generation. When you're there then you're going to probably get to not have any difficulty finding people who speak English but anyway this complex complex the damage Santa Complex was really beautifully done and it was interesting? It had good sign age and multiple languages. The Menus look good in the restaurant. There was no one there serving it. It was very strange. They had elaborate statues and felt like a place completely alien to three. It was located right and to be fair. I think it's intended like here in the states. It's like an apple. Orchard has big Intel in October but in March they might not have have so many people so this was off season from the Rose Harvest Harvest Anka. So there's a lot of people that are in the spring. I don't know there was definitely nobody there when we were there. It was driving aged driving through that cal was even stranger and that does raise the question of it. Sounds like in many ways where the time of year you went which I think thank you said. September was a good time to go. Is that when you would recommend people to go. I guess that really depends on what you want. Sure some of the big festival times like the the Rose Festival that happens are in the area dam. Asana I think happens in June. And if that's the kind of thing that you enjoy then you would have to go then got it. Sure like if you're interested in seeing the cookery festivals they happen at a certain time of year but September. We chose in particular because because we expected it to be a bit less busy shirt but have good weather and it was. We were very pleased with our experience in September. So if you're a tourist with the kind of expectations we had. It's a great time to get the weather was good. It was not super hot. Not Very many places probably have air conditioning. I need need to find that out. But I my guess is they didn't okay some of the fancier places might but I think it was a good time of year. It was getting cool by the time we were leaving in October to end of September wearing especially in the evening needing jackets sweaters Earth Cool evenings well in the Black Sea when it was ninety degrees so over yeah well and we mentioned that this is part of the EU at this time but it is not on the euro. It's still on the lev- as I recall is right. Well anything else. I WANNA say about plugged up. We need to start wrapping this up. We haven't said anything about the food. Okay throughout the country you can count. How on really good? It's a Mediterranean Greek in influence. So there are great shop Salads. Okay so emily where you can go. You can get a great salad. That's tomatoes cut up cucumbers shirt with fettuccine overdone. That was amazing. All of Admiral. Very few olives. How interesting food lots of Fettuccini? Lots of Fettuccini. When we went into restoring the what would be the equivalent of our whole daily case? Here at home was all all different types of status and didn't know there were that many different on either but everything's better with fedor. Yeah and the other thing is the soup which was called territory which is a cold cucumber soup truly delicious to and it meets sausages. Cut Me good seafood. There's was good seafood everywhere. We had tripe soup as well tripe soup is very body alerts. Maybe a national dish and we didn't say much about this but there are are Orthodox churches everywhere. So that's a big part of what what you they're beautiful. They're grand if you're someone who appreciates church architecture. They're worth seeing excellent as we wrap this up. You're standing at the prettiest spot use. Aw in Bulgaria. Where are you standing on? What are you looking? Yeah well I guess I would have to say looking out across plotted from that Roman theatre. Okay Patty different answer. Another part of our trip we were in the Mountains okay. We got to stay up in the Ruby mountains in a cabin and they was beautiful. Okay excellent excellent and one thing that makes you laugh and say only in Bulgaria. There's water everywhere. Water spigots everywhere and it's good water so in the city of Sophea. There's these hot thermal water. Public Water fountains that people go and collect water from day in and day out. They run twenty four hours a day and and in the countryside. We didn't figure this out until yet to talk to someone who knew there were picnic areas around springs coming out of the side of the mountains. Somebody had tapped a spring and there was a spigot coming out with water running again twenty four hours a day and we found out. It's a wonderful tradition of and when someone dies in a family whose important to people they tap a spring and build a little picnic area there and maybe the equivalent of like an eternal aflame for us the thought of the water running forever in honor of that person interesting. People who live in the city will go far out into the mountains to find a place where there isn't one of these bigots and they'll build one there then they'll maintain it and their family will maintain it and some of them were very elaborate. We passed one that had table cloth on it and someone told us yeah somebody comes and replaces that cloth about once a month interesting and if you had to summarize Bulgaria in just three words what three words would use friendly surprising and his story Perry Friendly Orthodox Churches as one and deep history that I was completely unaware of before I got there. I know that's more than three words. Orthodox in history. That's okay excellent. Our guest again had been Tom and Patty Burkett and don't have a blog so we won't send you off to their blood although if you want to hear more of their voices as you can hear them talking about are being in the US on what podcast the RV podcast. And it's not our podcast that lead to a five minute segment at the end. That's called off the beaten path. Excellent well thanks so much for coming on amateur traveler and sharing with us your love for Bulgaria. Thank you for running the PODCASTS and providing us with such useful and interesting information Krizan while you're most welcoming community again I'm planning launch launch compatriots to help support the show in defray some of the costs of editing and those sorts of things and there should be a link coming up as well as an email to the email list with more information about what you'll get deal as you support amateur traveler at various levels and with that we're GonNa end this episode of amateur traveller if you have any questions than any male to hosted amateur traveler dot com or better yet leave a comment on this episode at Amateur Traveler Dot Com. And thanks so much for listening see catsuit buildings is long John.

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