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Published: August 11th 2013
It was a peaceful night at Camping Veliko Tarnovo with only eight pitches taken. The site is small and British run with a full English menu including Beef and Ale Pie, Rice Pudding and other Brit delights, the average meal is around 7.5 LEV (approximately £3.30 GBP). With a pool and good new facilities the only real downside is the lack of shade, there is none!
Woolly says – I woke up to find that Ian and Jo had abandoned me and gone off for a full English breakfast at the restaurant, “how very rude” I thought before catching up with them and having a good moan.
Once the moaning had finished we got James organised with the route to The Fortress Tsarevets on the outskirts of the town. Having only just pulled off from the campsite we were stopped by the police….
Woolly says – I hid!
They checked our passports and told us that Ollie should have his headlights on not just the side lights, there was no point in arguing that having checked the AA book and the Foreign Office site we knew that it was
only a recommendation to have lights on at all. We turned them on and continued down the potholed road.
Woolly says – I counted 6 cars with no lights on and 12 with side lights on, and not one got stopped! We turned off onto an even bumpier road, Ollie thinks he is permanently off roading now and took it at speed. With our teeth juddering we went down ever narrower roads which got worse and worse in surface conditions. We spotted the Fortress from a few kilometres away, to be fair it’s difficult to miss and it looked most impressive, I got impatient to go and take a proper look.
We drove round and round, up and down side roads looking for parking, nothing but warnings of being towed away if found parked! We tried the same circuit again just in case we had missed something, not a single place existed to put Ollie.
Woolly says – I spotted a parking sign….
It was 2 ½ kilometres away Woolly and none of us wanted a huge uphill walk like that before we even got to the fortress!
With nothing for it I jumped out of Ollie and took a couple of snaps and off we went.
Woolly says – I was rather disappointed but what could we do. Ian drove us on through the town itself and then he said morosely ‘A Monastery’ and scooted off down a side road…..I had visions of Rasputin. We missed the turning as the next sign was on the other side of the road facing away from us, luckily Jo was craning her neck and spotted it at the last second. A one point turn later and we found that we were heading up through a forest with beehives in amongst the trees. Up and up we went with the road no longer existing only a rugged dirt track. Finally we saw a building and parked up.
The Transfiguration of God Monastery looks out over the Yantra River and is the biggest one in the region. It was founded in 1360 and is painted in the style of Tarnovo. It has a chequered history and has been burnt down twice during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Rebuilt in 1825 with the artwork being concluded
Woolly says – It looked lovely outside with its intricate paintings but the real wow factor came as we entered. The roofs and walls were astounding, each depicting a different story, they were gilded and so intricate. In the three areas each one was totally different and in the largest and end room you could see the restoration work and cleaning that was taking place under the massive chandelier. I imagined what it must be like to be a Monk where you came to worship in a place like this every day.
With Woolly contemplating the Monastic life we looked around the courtyard before taking in the spectacular views that they had every day. For 2 Lev each (approximately £0.88 GBP), you can spend as long as you like looking round and the view is free.
Woolly says – I was reluctant to leave but I had no choice but to follow the intrepid duo back to Ollie. The route back was no better and I started counting pot holes, could be a Jo challenge for tomorrow! As we bumped our way back to the site I reflected on
how we moan about the British roads at times for their condition, actually they are really good in comparison to Bulgaria and I could only be thankful we weren’t in Georgie as her suspension wouldn’t have taken to it well at all.
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