Page 9 of Ali Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Bulgaria » Burgas Province » Ahtopol July 25th 2004

South of Burgas on the Black Sea Coast at the last bus stop is the village of Ahtopol, population 1,300. Sounded nice in the guide books and was recommended by a Bulgarian bookmaker in Dupnitsa. The bus stopped at around 6.30pm, after a journey past Sozopol and beach after beach. We unloaded our ample backpacks and were imediatly approached by a small boy, we couldn't understand what he was offering but his grandma was better with the sign language, off to look at a private rom. Clean, close to the center, hot water, and only 20 lv (10 Euro) it seemed good to me. Sara wanted to see Hotel Neptune, but too late we were booked in. Next stop beach, unload the swimming gear, unstrap the beach mats we had unwisely carried from Budapest, available for ... read more
Ahtopol Habour
Storm over Ahtopol

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv July 20th 2004

Dig down a few feet anwhere in Plovdiv and you're bound to find something. History oozes from every corner of this town. With ruins dating back 7000 years to 5000bc, the area has been continually inhabited, invaded, destroyed, rebuilt, re-invaded and so on since that time. Walking around Plovdiv you can see Roman Ruins, Thracian Ruins (from 5000bc), Churches from the 13th Century through to the 17th Century and Mosques from the Turkish occupation. Highlights of our time in Plovdiv Watching Van Helsing in the Roman Ampitheater at night. Silly film but a fantastic place to watch anything. Climbing one of the seven hills for each sunset. Chatting to locals who haven't had the novelty of tourists spoilt yet. Learning to read the cyrillic alphabet and making random orders from the lunch menu, eg. Mish-Mash - ... read more
Plovdiv, Bulgaria
St Nedelya Church

The Rila mountains are the largest and most impressive in Bulgaria. Most peaks rise to around 2600m with Mount Masala at 2915m the highest. Many miles of beautiful marked hiking trails cross the mountains, in many directions. Based at the Rila Monestary at 1100m the many trails that begin and end there have one main direction, up. Having seen photos of the Seven Lakes on postcards, we decided that we had to see them, we couldn't find the starting point of the shortest route, blue, but easily found the red route. Unluckily we had taken so long organising our things that we could only start the hike at 12 noon. The Red path starts at the Monestary, and ends at Ivan Vazov mountain hut, near the seven lakes. The first hour is through beech forest, the ... read more
Ali and Lakes
Resting in the Rila Mountains
Tree of Life and Death

After a few days in the bustle of Sophia we headed south to the Rila Monestary. Famed world wide for its beauty and tranquility. The slow journey by bus from Dupnitsa yielded successively more impressive views until we arrived. We wandered around briefly, it is such a beautiful place, why so many police? We couldn't stay too long as we needed to find a camp site. About 1.2km along the only road into the mountains is the Bor Camp site. Again the setting is beautiful, and on a friday evening we were one of about 3 tents, we set the tent in the middle of a meadowy area. Apart from a dog the decided to guard our tent during the night it was peaceful and comfortable. I woke early went to the monestary and wandered around ... read more
Rila Monestary
River Rilska

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia July 15th 2004

The train from Belgrade to Sophia did appear as scheduled this time, and after the rough night before we paid the $10 upgrade to sleeper. It was well worth doing. I had an almost uninterupted nights sleep, and felt good when I arrived in Sophia. First impressions of Bulgaria. 1 - Friendly people - for the most part, a guy helped us get the sleeper carriage, a Bulgarian. 2 - Great coffee - again a real cafe society. 3 - Great Ice Cream - the best Sara has ever eaten in her life :) 4 - Magnificent churches - hope the photos show this well. 5 - Watch out for pickpockets! - more later.   On arrival in Sophia we got talking with Hyun from South Korea on his way to Istanbul with 10 hours in ... read more
St Nikolai Church
The Rotunda
The National Theatre

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 13th 2004

Hurray! I'm back on the road again. Sara (my girlfriend) and I had hoped to go to Central America for the summer. But alas due to some bad planning, some bad luck, and changes in the university year dates, we couldn't get reasonably priced tickets. So we decided to go to Bulgaria for a month. Trains from Budapest to Sophia, the capital of Bulgaria, run twice a day and go one of two routes, via Romania, or via Serbia. The Serbian route was cheaper ($90 US return) and quicker acording to the internet (Hungarian Railways) so we took that route. After a long slow journey from Budapest to Belgrade, overnight in the sitting carriage we arrived in Belgrade. Our timetable had also indicated that arriving in the morning would give us a 2 hour stopover and ... read more
The Danube and Sava
St. Sava Temple
Belgrade Streets

Europe » Hungary » Southern Transdanubia » Pécs June 11th 2004

The summer is here, I love it. Finally the weather has improved and the long warm evenings are starting. Well I'm back in Pecs again. Mainly working on websites and learning more about photography. Took a really long walk through the hills yesterday, wanted to show a few more photos from the Mecsek, flowers and insects mainly - will be uploading in a moment. Soon I'll be travelling again - hopefully Central America and overland to Mexico. But we haven't brought tickets yet. On a sad note - many of my friends are leaving - back to their home countries at the end of exchange programs. Szia  -  (Hi/Bye in Hungarian).... read more
Mecsek Butterfly
Stag Beetle

Europe » Hungary » Central Hungary » Budapest June 6th 2004

I think this has to be the largest concert I've ever attended. In the city park Budapest, there is a large area designed for use as a stage. For the last three years Westel - one of Hungary's mobile telephone providers has paid for a promotional concert in the park. Joe Cocker and Elton John were the previous years stars. This year Sting. Free to attend and promoted like crazy all over Hungary the concert was always going to be busy - but I've never seen anything like it, I'm waiting for statistics but rumours of 400,000 or more people are flying about at the moment, I could believe more. I never even got close enough to the stage to actually physically see the stars with my own eyes. Sara and I only managed to get ... read more
Matthias Church

Europe » Hungary » Southern Transdanubia » Pécs June 2nd 2004

I don't know if it is officially summer or not yet, but if it is what happened to the Spring? I'd had visions of a long warm spring in Central Europe, sitting out drinking beers in the warm evenings. Out in the forests in my shorts and t-shirt enjoying weather that England couldn't rival. Well this spring has been the worst in living memory, tempratures are about 10 degrees lower than normal and it rains most days. It reminds me of home. Now is this global warming? Are the changes in climate we are seeing are due to the vast amounts of carbon dioxide released since the industrial revolution? A few things occur to me: We only have detailed climate records for just a few hundred years. The Thames last froze over in 1814, in the ... read more
Lots of Rain
Iris's in the garden

A fourty minute train ride from Prague is Castle Karlstejn. The lonely planet guide mentioned fairy tale, and it lived up to the description. Perching on the top of a hill, looming over a village, with flags rustling in the wind. I've never seen a castle as picturesque, though Warwick Castle England was very impressive. The castle was built in the 14th century, and was home to Charles IV, and his 4 wives. For 200Kc (£4) a tour takes you around most of the castle, unfortunately for us, the Chapel of the Holy Rood is closed to visitors except in July - September. The guided tour around the inhabited part was impressive enough. So things I remember: Being a princess/queen was not all it that it is cut out to be. Lots of child bearing and ... read more
The wooden bridge
Sunny Castle Karlstejn

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