Published: October 31st 2007October 21st 2007
With bags packed we headed down to breakfast. It again consisted of dry bread and stopping Darko from hitting food from our hands. After forcing as much down as possible, free is free after all, macs adhorned we went to try the bus station yet again.
We encountered much the same problem as the day before; no one in the ticket office for the Istanbul buses. Fortunately our luck changed and someone was in the information booth and from her we managed to get two tickets to Turkey. Although we were slightly worried when we heard "problem" repeatedly when she was on the phone organising the tickets.
With two freshly written tickets in our pockets we headed for the castle but felt that if we were going to take castle seeing seriously we'd need to line our stomachs. Walking towards the castle along the highstreet we couldn't find a single café that did soup and a sandwich; something we decided we wanted. After deeper searching we found just the place. Steph opted for spinach soup whilst I tried a traditional cold soup made from yoghurt, cucumber and parsley.
Refueled and ready to go we descended upon the castle
and paid our way through the fortifications; easier than climbing them. Inside we were confronted with a map and easily picked the essential must see; the execution stone. The castle wasn't like a british heritage site, you could pretty much go anywhere and stand on anything, to the extent that steps without railings led to walls with sheer drops. Needless to say it was a lot more fun and we did climb everything we could.
The views from the fortifications were amazing, although the weather was below par it made for mood filled scenery, with cloud covered mountains and winding rivers. The fortifications themselves seemed more geared towards the 'light and sound spectacular' with lights mounted here and there and cables running backwards and forwards.
We went in and out of the ruins; in dark holes, up winding steps, along partially crumbled roofs thouroughly enjoying the freedom of the castle. One of the main drawbacks was the lack of english as different sections had descriptions in Bulgarian and German from which we gathered it was 12-14th century.
A top of the mound in the centre there was a fully non-ruined church with fantastic modern art inside as
opposed to the familiar biblical paintings. Its worthwhile noting that atmospherical music was only started once we showed that we had legitimate tickets.
From the castle we journeyed back to the hostel passing a lovely English place which advertised marmite on toast amongst other 'english' things. At the hostel a new group of backpackers had arrived so we chatted to them and tried to burn some pictures to discs to waste the time until our bus.
On the way to the bus we went via a cheap eatery to have tea. It was a pleasant enough place and as neither of us were hungry we just ordered light meals. The bus station was quite busy when we arrived although Steph doubted the location of the bus given to us when we bought the tickets, so we spent the first 15 mins going from the front to the back of the station checking all the buses (better safe than sorry).
The time that our bus was due came and went and we started to wonder how long we should wait before finding accomodation for the night. After about half an hour the bus pulled up where it was
Just on a building
there were several of these large artworks around the town
supposed to and things looked promising; new coach, organised staff, good times. This was short lived. The coach set off then switched the main lights off not too bad, but the individual lights didn't work so no reading...it'll be a long 9 hours...well at least we can sleep. Wrong! After a short while the heaters had turned the coach in to a furnace and guess what? The individual blowers didn't work! Marvelous! After stripping off every layer (and rolling up trouser legs!) the heat was unbearable and I ended up feeling very ill and longed for the border crossing and the fresh air. We did manage to doze on and off but we were both too hot and bothered too get any real rest. Around one we realised we were in for one hell of a journey and settled in for a VERY long night.
There are more photos below