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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: 42.15, 24.75
Had what seemed like a very Bulgarian experience today - a bucolic drive through the Valley of the Roses, the centre of Bulgaria's rose-producing industry, where they are grown and then turned into a variety of products. Brandy, creams, jams, liqueurs, oils, perfumes, soaps, the variety is incredible and the region is responsible for 85% of the world's rose oil production. There is some pretty amazing scenery along the way and some quirky sights, like the road being blocked by storks and donkey-drawn carts, and in addition to crater-sized potholes, road hazards such as raised manhole covers being kindly marked with big piles of rocks, forcing drivers to weave all over the road.
Lucked out today - the hotel owner's mother was driving some other guests to Plovdiv, a mother and daughter from Varna, so I was able to hitch a ride with them, at a price probably only a few more leva than the cost of public transportation. It also saved some major hassle - the only direct bus from Koprivshtitsa to Plovdiv leaves at 6:30 AM, otherwise the journey involves a shuttle bus to the train station 9 km away, followed by a train to Karlovo, a wait,
... very cute, the mother and daughter from Varna were flipping out at how cute they were as they crossed the road.
then another train or bus to Plovdiv. Given that Koprivshtitsa is such a major tourist destination, it's surprising how poorly it's serviced by buses and trains.
It was a bizarre but funny experience, driving along in a car where the passengers only spoke a few words of English, collectively. The hotel owner's mother was giving the other two a bit of a commentary on the regions we passed through, and the mother and daughter were nice enough to offer a few translations, where they were able to. For the most part, the car was filled with the sounds of Bulgarian chatter, with a soundtrack of entirely English-language songs, mostly gangster rap and hip hop, making for an amusing mixture of East Meets West.
As far as Bulgarian goes, I can pick up the odd word whose pronunciation is similar to the equivalent in English or another language - the Bulgarian words for delicatessen, kielbasa, prosciutto, and rose ... but the single most recognizable word was "da", Bulgarian for yes, and it was uttered over and over today. There was quite the dialogue going on between the two mothers and it was funny to witness, as one was asking many questions
Only in Bulgaria ...
... in and around the smaller towns, cars share the roads with donkey-drawn carts. It's actually a bit dangerous - another time, we were on a highway and came around a curve to see a slow-moving cart puttering along.
of the region, and the other kept responding with "Da, da, da!". It put a smirk on my face, as it reminded me of that classic Volkswagen commercial ... I've been in Bulgaria for five days and loved every moment of it so far, but it wasn't until today that I feel like I finally experienced the real Bulgaria!
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