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Published: June 26th 2017
The campsite is just outside the town of Veliko Tarnovo. It is lovely, overlooking a gentle valley with fields of wheat and sunflowers. It has a swimming pool, bar and restaurant. On the first couple of days here, we have done a morning walk through the fields to a neighbouring village and a cycle ride taking in five different villages in this valley and the next. Along with farmland, the area is full of fruit orchards. Cherries are in abundance at the moment. We have spent the afternoons in the shade and by the pool. I have actually been swimming in this one!!
Saturday and Sunday were a respite from the sweltering heat – it rained. Whilst we listened to the radio telling us of record temperatures in the UK, we put on our jeans. We ventured out between thunder storms on Saturday for a bike ride. At one point John was being chased by eight feral puppies, all yapping and barking at him. We had cycled for about 40 minutes before the heavens opened and we had to take shelter. Once the rain eased, we decided to give up and head back.
The campsite has been taken over by a touring group of cloggies who have circled their caravans close to ours obscuring our idyllic view. They aren’t popular with the other Dutch campers either. One lady we have been chatting with came over to us telling us how stupid they all were. On the Sunday we drove to into Veliko Tarnovo and had a wander round its fort and the old town, all very charming. We had lunch before heading back and pitching our van at the other side of the campsite from the cloggies. We ate at the campsite restaurant and had to order pudding and extra wine until the torrential rain let up.
We drove to Falcovets in the north-west of Bulgaria and close to the Romanian border. Our campsite (Hanmadona) is in the gardens of a charming small hotel. We arrived mid-afternoon to find there were already two occupants, both of which we had met at other sites in Bulgaria. The family from Berwick we had met in Biser were there so we caught up with what they had been doing over the last few days. They had viewed
a few properties as potential holiday homes but were now on their way home to consider them. We invited them to join us for a drink after we had eaten and spent the evening chatting about this and that and watching the fire flies flit about.
On Tuesday we cycled to Belogradchik approximately 18 km’s away. The road seemed fairly flat for the first 12 km’s but I struggled and thought I was just having a bad day and succumbing to the heat. The last four kilometres to the town were a steep uphill climb. Once in the town, we cycled even more up-hill to the fort. At the time I was cursing John’s decision but once there, I conceded that it was worth the effort. Built when the area was still under Roman occupation, the fort offers fantastic views over the Belogradchik rocks. The rocks are a sandstone and conglomerate formations. Over the years they have been given names to represent their shapes. The most iconic is the Madonna and the shepherd boy. The story tells us that a nun whose beauty could not be disguised by her habit was courted by a shepherd boy who
wooed her by playing his flute. Their liaison was subsequently discovered when the cries of a baby were heard from the convent and the nun was expelled. On her expulsion, the convent and nearby monastery were destroyed and she (bending over her child) and the shepherd riding on his horse were turned to stone.
Tomorrow we head to Vidin to cross the Danube into Romania.
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