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Published: April 30th 2006
We boarded the train at 13:37 and ran into an American couple from our hostel in Bucharest, Justine and Christine who joined us in our Romanian train compartment. The conductor in our carriage was trying to extort 100,000 Romanian Lei from us for the privilege and when we refused to pay he got quite angry, waving his cigar around and shouting something that not one of us understood. At the Bulgarian border we changed carriages and continued our journey in peace.
We arrived into Veliko Tarnovo shortly before dusk and walked for about 40 minutes to a homestay which had been recomended to us. Veliko Tarnovo is a pretty, small town, built into a hillside with all the houses overlooking a meandering stream in the valley. We eventually found the place where we wanted to stay thanks to a knowledgable local who led us there and checked in with Rosa, our welcoming and slightly crazy hostess.
Having not eaten since the morning, we dumped our bags at Rosa's house and headed out to get some food at Rish's restaurant, where I dined on a pepper filled with egg and cheese followed by a Bulgarian stew with chips and salad.
After a few beers in the local bars, we headed back to Rosa's where we found that our bags had all been tagged with numerous red and white bands - a symbol for good luck and good health but of no real use to a Newcastle United supporter!
Rosa, our hostess, her husband is an artist and his paintings are hung all over the house. The bed covers are big, hairy affairs although I wouldn't like to guess from which animal and Rosa herself is.. well.. off her rocker. In the morning, we all woke up and were shepherded into one room for breakfast which Rosa seemed to delight herself in serving to us. With her whiff of body odour, we ate cheese sandwiches, biscuits, a tomato and drank peppermint tea. Filled up by Rosa's excellent hospitality we headed out to check out the town. In fairness, it is much prettier lit up by nighjt, although by day it is not too shabby and makes a nice change from the big cities we have spent most of our time in so far.
We saw 'the house of the little monkey' - a house with a tiny sculpture of
In bed at Rosa´s
a little monkey on the front which thrilled us all in the smallest possible way and then bought food for the train before heading to a bar for a couple of drinks to while away the time in the warming sun.
At 18:30 we left Rosa and walked back to the station, boarding the sleeper train to Istanbul having spent all our remaining Bulgarian money on beer and chewing gum.
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