Page 3 of londonpenguin Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Bulgaria September 11th 2015

Geo: 42.6622, 27.7075Our morning started with a drive through the Balkan Range. There are fields and copses and acres of sunflowers, all with their heads bowed, and then suddenly a small, depressing village where dogs guard junk yards and other places that you can't imagine anyone even wanting to break into. The houses are in disrepair or abandoned altogether, and small public squares are overgrown with weeds, almost as if any civic pride ended when Communism did. On the other hand, the countryside is rather lovely, though nothing out of the ordinary.We passed through the Valley of the Thracian Kings, a/k/a The Valley of Roses. Kazanluk, our destination, is smack in the middle of this valley. Roses are a big deal in Bulgaria, as 60 percent of the world's rose products come from here. The harvest ... read more
Shipka Memorial Church
Thracian tomb

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv September 10th 2015

Geo: 42.7252, 25.4815Woke up to rain this morning. Boo.The breakfast room is very large, has a couple of buffet lines, and was filled with people. I was sitting at a table with Barb and Moody, and Stefan eventually sat down with us. He told us of one time when he had a group from Texas. There was a very large group of Israelis in the breakfast room too, and they proceeded to fill their plates, piling more and more food on. Stefan noticed that one large Texan man in particular was slowly blowing his fuse. He eventually exclaimed, "They've taken the apple right off my plate!" He seethed a little more and then got up and approached the table of Israelis and barked, "You do not take food off of other people's plates! You took something ... read more
Tiger food!
The shopping street
Lovely 18th century building in the background ...

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv September 9th 2015

Geo: 42.7252, 25.4815It was so quiet during the night, and I actually slept really well. The mattress wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The shower was … just a tiny corner of the tiny bathroom; there was either scalding water or lukewarm water. I chose lukewarm and only did a super-quick rinse. Will be happy to wash my hair tomorrow.Walked out a little early to see the monastery empty. I was the only person out there for five minutes or so, and then people in the group started to join in. The monks were singing in the church, and the sun was trying to peek through the clouds. It was very peaceful.We all went to breakfast at the same restaurant as last night. Going outside afterward, I looked down over a railing and ... read more
Mountain water
Kitty does a little dance
One of the monastery gates

Europe » Bulgaria September 8th 2015

Geo: 42.1273, 23.1337Packed up this morning and loaded onto our coach. Our driver is Kyril, but I don't think he speaks English at all. The bus isn't as good as a Heidebloem, but it's a similar set-up (really, how much difference could there be between bus configurations?).After a bathroom stop (where I bought a Moora bar (hazelnut wafers in chocolate)), we went to a school in Dupnitsa about an hour and a half outside of Sofia. It's a 1st through 8th grade school, and we were entertained by a small group of 3rd and 4th graders. They sang Bulgarian folk songs and did little dances and looked adorable doing it. The girls wore little red skirts and white shirts, while the boys wore white shirts and whatever color of track pants they could dig up. Each ... read more
Cyrillic alphabet
View from Tsetska's deck
Picnic at Tsetska's house

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia September 7th 2015

Geo: 42.7105, 23.3238(By popular demand, I've included a picture of the skinny lion. It's from a distance, so you can't really tell it has a mohawk, but check out those ribs!)Breakfast this morning was the usual European array of meats, cheeses, yogurt, muesli, breads - both savory and sweet - eggs and bacon. Also, stewed vegetables, olives, celery sticks and sliced tomatoes. I had a nice conversation with Barb from Illinois/Arizona (and who looks so much like a Barb that it would be weird if she were called something else) and Ray from Camano Island. He makes glass art (not blown glass though), and his wife was wearing a pretty example of some earrings he made.We met in the lobby at 8:55 for our walking tour of Sofia. It was very cool this morning, which I ... read more
King Samuel
Changing the guard
Armed kickline

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia September 6th 2015

Geo: 42.7105, 23.3238I slept well last night, despite the disco or party or whatever it was nearby that had a continuous boom-boom-boom bass-y sort of noise. Actually, it sounded more like the noise an MRI machine makes than musical bass but, as there was singing too, I assume there wasn't some sort of mass imaging festival going on.The shower was decent. Even the Worst Hairdryer in the World™ wasn't so bad!Ham and cheese croissant and a ginormous mocha at Costa down the road, then a stroll over to the park where the monument to the Soviet (not Russian) Army is. Climbed up the stairs to the base of the column and felt really quite high up, even though I wasn't. Looking back the way I came, there's a very large paved area leading nearly back to ... read more
Looming evidence of capitalism
Scooter kids
"Molotov, put down that bottle!"

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia September 5th 2015

Geo: 42.7105, 23.3238My flight was at 1:43, so naturally we left the house at 10:35 (well, it is the Friday of Labor Day weekend!) and got to SeaTac just after 11:00. My flight was booked through KLM, but Delta operates the flights out of Seattle to Amsterdam. Bag drop was a little chaotic and took maybe 15 minutes, but then I discovered that I'd been selected for TSA Pre-Check, which meant that I could just march right up to the conveyor belt, plop my carry-on down, and go through the scanner. No taking out my liquids or laptop; no taking off my shoes and sweater. Pretty slick! I wonder how I can get selected every time I fly. (I was actually behind three JAL flight crew. It was like this was their first time through security. ... read more
Bulgarian kitty!
Playing in the park
Crystal Palace Hotel

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle October 4th 2014

Geo: 47.6353, -122.302I didn't sleep well at all last night. It was Friday, so people were out all night long, and there was a restaurant right beneath my window. And again with the metallic clanging noises at 4:30! Oy!Everything managed to fit in my suitcase, so I left the hotel at 8:20 a.m. and walked the few blocks to the bus stop. The airport bus turned up in ten minutes or so. It wasn't terribly full, but I did have to stand. It filled up along the route, but it wasn't packed or anything, and only a 30-minute ride. It stopped at Terminal 2, and I had to take a free shuttle to Terminal 1. I was at the airport early enough that I had to wait around for ten minutes before I could actually check ... read more

Europe » France October 3rd 2014

Geo: 43.7034, 7.2662I slept on the other side of the bed last night, so I could just barely hear the tick-tick-tick from the lamp. At 4:30 a.m., though, it sounded as if someone was putting up scaffolding outside. Never did figure out what that was.After breakfast I walked up to Place Massena and took a tram (after having to get a Frenchman to help me with the ticket machine) two stops to Place Garibaldi. It took me awhile to locate the bus stop I needed, but I finally found it and was soon on my way -- standing, and with dozens of other passengers -- on my way to Monaco.It was an absolutely gorgeous morning and ridiculously warm on the bus. I ended up standing by one of the back doors, so I at least had ... read more
Guard on parade
Me outside the Palace
St. Nicolas Cathedral

Europe » France October 2nd 2014

Geo: 43.7034, 7.2662I didn't sleep all that well last night because (a) it was still noisy outside, and (b) even though I turned off the bedside lamp, it still flickered all night long. I couldn't get it to truly turn off; I couldn't even take out the light bulb. And it made a continuous tick-tick-tick noise that was very, very quiet but just loud enough to hear. I finally fell asleep wondering if it was going to catch fire or something. We had a walking tour this morning with Agnès, a Parisienne who moved to Nice twelve years ago for the sunshine. And it was, indeed, very sunny and warm today. We stopped first at the town hall, where the mayor (who was recently re-elected and quite popular) lives and works. In the courtyard in front ... read more
Thumb boat
Nice definitely has an Italian feel

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