Wrapping up Bulgaria before Sarajevo

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October 6th 2009
Published: October 6th 2009
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Central Bulgaria was certainly a very positive surprise for us. After Plovdiv we headed north east towards Veliko Tarnova and through low rolling hills. We specifically stopped at places that at least Lonely Planet or Alex & Jill said were picturesque or of particular significance. In general this has been a good match with our interests over the years: we just tend to get there with marginally more comfort than LP's core demographic.

Tryavna has an excellent crafts community operating out of the central medieval village. Superb wood carving and wrought iron work despite the plainness of the suburbs surrounding it. We were tempted to stay the night - again - and particularly given the lack of the tourist hordes. Pushed onto Veliko Tarnova and were stunned to find a sophisticated city perched in the same way as the villages on top of a steep river canyon. We found a small hotel - called Lucky - right on the precipice and enjoyed a few days of walking and sightseeing around the town that had been first settled BC. Food was consistently good though in some ways the range was limited: chevapcheches, sheep cheese, and cucumber and tomato salad. One more visit was at Koprivshtitsa where we stayed at a private home furnished in the Bulgo/Turkish style: divans and religious icons.

Perhaps a way to summarise the character of this very friendly and hassle-free country was said by the rental care hostess as we tried to work the roads and return the little Citroen, "Bulgarians like things to be a bit random and maybe risky, and if there is trouble you just give the Policeman a little Leva." So the roadsigns are at the turnoff, the potholes are so big that the car twists and the rear door opens, the highway detour is like a bush track complete with shrubs growing in the ruts (would make my Uncle George look like a Master surveyor), and roadsign distances increase or decrease independently of real distance.

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