Bulgarian fortresses, rocks and synagogues.

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Europe » Bulgaria » Vidin Province
April 21st 2015
Published: April 28th 2015
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Arrived in Bulgaria in the middle of the night, (Country #52) and had a bad sleep so when my alarm went off I felt like I had to swim to the surface of my consciousness just to turn my alarm clock off. Which for those of you who know - I am one of those annoying morning people so I really struggled with that. I fell asleep on route (we left at 08:30) as we had a one hour drive outside of Vidin (where we were docked), to head to the town of Belogradchik (pronounced like it looks - belo-grad-chik)

We got to have a quick stop after our drive for coffee and some traditional snacks. We had a sweet and savory treat; the sweet was super yummy, like a tiny rolled cookie with light pastry with jam inside and sprinkled with icing sugar on the outside. The savory had cheese so I skipped that but heard it was quite good as well.

We quickly discovered that the town was having a festival to welcome the start of tourism season, which was really neat timing! They had a marching band, as well as a troupe of girls with batons, and we quickly dispersed out to watch the festivities, much to the chagrin of our local guide. She was trying to herd cats at that stage as we didn’t want to leave, and had all 'mistakenly' turned off our ear sets so we couldn't here what she was saying *smirk*. We all wanted to sit and enjoy this (since in theory it was all about us!) but we sadly had to leave to begin our excursion. The Minister of Tourism was there (we didn’t meet him) but it was still cool to see that they take the tourism industry serious and do appreciate the value and business it generates.

Got to the fortress and it was sprawling and spectacular set atop this big hill side overlooking the town as well as all the phenomenal rock formations that we were also there to see. The Belogradchik Fortress started during Roman times and was impressively preserved given the age of it. We had legionnaires kids dressed up greeting us at the gate, and an underage bartender serving wine inside of the gates (see photo) which we weren’t quite sure what that was about, but odd to see a 12 year old serving booze! I snapped a photo of her, as she was cute as a button, and being dressed up just added to the visual.

Definitely one of the most picturesque spots we had been to, the Belogradchik rock formations were utterly spectacular. For those of you like me who are non-geo smart, the rocks are created by a former lake then sediment, pebbles gravel mixes with clay then gets compressed by the water, eroded by wind and rain to form interesting hoodoos. It reminded me of Drumheller, but far more spectacular as the height of some of them was considerably impressive. Our local guide was pointing out different shapes/animals etc. I saw some of the ones she mentioned, not others but was just loving the landscape and I quickly wandered away to take as many photos as possible.

There were 3 main ‘levels’, and I honestly thought most of the group would only go to the first one, possibly second lookout, however they were determined to get to the top and impressed me by doing so. It was a steep set of naturally built rock steps that had been weathered over time, and yes the view got better the higher we went but it was a bit treacherous getting to the top. Trying to collect us again to leave was another lesson in patience and cat herding for her (I admired her persistence and calmness), but they did get us out of there eventually. The rock formations were spectacular, especially with the snow capped mountains in the background, stunning scenery that my camera didn’t capture (has nothing to do with me of course !!)

Afterwards we drove back to Vidin, and stopped to explore the Baba Vida Fortress that overlooked the Danube. It served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. We had driven by Vidin Synagogue, which looked really interesting and very run down but captured many people’s attention. We noticed someone wandering around inside of it, so when we got off the coaches to see the Fortress, Dennis and I skipped over to the Synagogue and hopped over a low fence to check it out. Wow, what a spectacular building; obviously in different stages of deterioration but you could still see the original beauty beyond the decay. The local who was in there was asking us for money (of which we literally had none) but he wasn’t overly interested in our being there, so we just got to explore on our own. Then we headed over to the Baba Vida Fortress (which was across the street) and caught up with the group. Again well preserved, and rebuilt in some areas, but we got to wander up to the top through tiny old stairs (found out later that there was a wide gradual path (leave it to me to take the hard way) that I managed to scrape up my shin a bit on, but worth it for the view. Wendy and Bruce (Canadians from Salt Spring Island) got a couple cool photos of us standing on an outcrop that looked like we were in thin air, so I’m looking forward to getting those from them once we get home.

Afterwards we headed back to the ship; Dennis and I walked around the small town just to stretch our legs a bit more, and then it was time to sail onward to our next destination more on the eastern side of Bulgaria.

That evening was our Captain’s Dinner as the following evening was going to be far too busy; so we dressed up all pretty (sometimes a girl {and guy} just have to do it), had an earlier port talk as there was a lot to discuss about the next few days, including optional excursions, transfers to the airport and disembarkation etc. Dinner was over 3 hours long - 5 or 6 courses I swear and I was super tired and super full by the end of it and quickly fell asleep after we got back to our cabin. Very full, but fun day, hopefully now you can understand why my blog is so far behind - geesh; eat, drink, sight see and be merry; not time to 'work'. As always MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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