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Published: September 28th 2009
Enjoyed an excellent Bulgarian Merlot 2003 before settling in for a quite night in the village. On the morning of the 27th, pushed on out of the Shiroka Laka valley and continued on twisted, narrow, barely-maintained mountain roads. Surprisingly close to SL, we came to the Parapova ski resort. This looked great in that the forest was dense and evergreen, but not so great in that it was like an outpost of Pomland inserted in the Bulgarian mountains. Pubs, and chip butties. Worth another visit though. Dropped back into Bulgarian villages pretty quickly and then onto the Chepelare district. Spotted a side road to Skalni mostova which took us deep into the mountains and near the peak of a 2000m mountain complete with abandoned/under-utilised mountain resort. Few people around and the air was cold and damp, as just before snow. The paved road ended where an old Roman road began. Zero wolves but some of the wild dogs look reminiscent. There was also a small village of alpine cottages. Apparently one of the great walks of Europe passes through this area and these are shelters for walkers. Also noted for a spectacular natural arch carved through the granite by the mountain
stream. A few awkward moments for the Citroen on the way down where the road was simply not wide enough for two cars, and a rock face or steep drop-off left few options.
Back on the 86 towards Plovdiv, driving at break-neck speed and yet dodging horse-drawn carts. Ahhh Bulgaria. The road dropped pretty fast onto the flat plain of Plovdiv which is relatively industrial but with an old town dating back to the Bronze age - some of the graffiti looks modern though. Stayed in a hostel on the outskirts of the old town and enjoyed people-watching in the Knyac Aleksandar mall over a few local beers. Huge cross-section of european and asian faces, some with spectacularly big hair. The evening meal suited Greg particularly, being a shishkebab place with bulk meat and discretionary servings of vegies. More excellent Merlo.
We spent the 28th walking around the old town and visiting some wonderfully restored old stately homes. In the 19th century these were built by wealthy traders on top of one of the granite hills of Plovdiv. Spectacular wooden carved ceilings were a feature as were the painted scenes on the walls. In one case, the home
requires concrete underpinning, but that needs to be below the Roman rubble which is at least 10m down.
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