Euro Trip Part 10: Bulgaria

Bulgaria Travel Blog

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Extreme Wheelchairing had taken it to the next level...

10th August 2007

Bulgaria (euro trip part 10)

Current mood: Hyper

Category: Travel and Places

 

Leaving the dirty old town of Bucharest we ran into a married couple who tagged along with us to the country of Bulgaria, a French and a Canadian they were which would have been a great advantage if we were travelling France or, yup you've guessed it…Azerbaijan.

movie remake of cult classic The Warriors was predicted to bomb at the box office...
After pretty much telling the Romanian train conductor to get fucked after he threatened to kick us off the train if we didn't give him some money, we steamrolled into Russe, Bulgaria only to find we had missed our connecting train to Varna by a couple of minutes. Ah well, what to do now but along with the husband and missus go check out what Russe had to offer us for the night. It's quite a nice place all in all but like Bucharest the town had quite a number of stray dog gangs running all over the place. I guess the mutts crossed the border from Romania to Bulgaria using their passpaws – oh I love it, that one was brilliant! The next morning after a 2 hour bus ride we landed in the seaside tourist resort that was Varna and promptly ran away from the married couple in case they beat us to accommodation first leaving us homeless for the night.
Japanese movie bosses approve the new look Godzilla...
Fuck knows what happened to them but Mands and I managed to get a place to stay after the hostel owner cancelled somebody else's booking as they hadn't shown up – it was only 9am for fucks sake, give the persons a chance to arrive I would have said but in this case, bugger 'em, and we took their beds. Varna has a great beach, not that I saw much of it as I don't know about you guys but beaches bore the fuck out of me so instead I went to visit the 3rd largest ruins in Europe, apparently 3rd behind the Millennium Dome and the New Wembley Stadium at the time of their supposed completion date. After messing about in the ruins in the scorching heat I soon found myself hotter than a vicar surrounded by young alter boys. What better way to cool down I figured than to bungee jump off a big bridge into the river below. I'm nothing if I don't do things in style, and off I trekked for almost an hours walk heading towards a tiny little bungee stall that wouldn't look out of place at Wembley Market. Then the alarm bells began ringing inside me and my senses, most noticeably my sense of smell, began warning me that something here wasn't quite right and that my life could be in serious danger if I continued with this jump. And after a couple of minutes haggling over the price with Mr Scruffy Bungee guy it occurred to me that this guy and a real bad hygiene problem. He bloody stank he did. I quickly figured if this fella can't look after something so simple such as his hygiene then what chance does he have looking after me jumping off a bridge with only a rope tied around my ankles?  Besides, with the way he smelled it should be him jumping off the bridge and taking a dip in the drink and not me.
So it was to be that I had to pass on this jump and head back in to town, but not before doing the world a favour by setting a light to this scruffy bloke and seeing him quickly ignite into a ball of flames...

 

On other days along with the Dutch couple Luke and Nina we hiked a small distance into the mountains to visit the Aladzha Rock Monastery that turned out to be some religious prayer placed carved into the face of a cliff, and not an unsigned band jamming session as you'd expect it to be. There's no chance of me becoming a groupie here I thought. At night we ventured into the town of Varna to risk what had recently overtaken all extreme sports to become the greatest risk to mans life - we were heading to an authentic Chinese restaurant run by Bulgarians Trust me, this was a bold move considering our Bratislava Chinese experience and the next few hours were to dictate weather we were heading home early or not. As it happened the meal turned out to be okay all considering. There were about seven of us all sat around the table stuffing ourselves silly and once Mands had to nip to the khazi we decided to play a prank by dashing from our tables to hide under other tables, behind plant pots and hanging curtain – much to the bemusement of  other diners.

I guess this sort of this doesn't usually happen in Bulgaria. Anyroad, we had a right confused Mands when she came back and once she spotted a random limb hanging out from behind a table we all jumped out and sang 'Happy Birthday' at the top of our voices. Amanda's birthday isn't for another 3 months.

 

Soon we were leaving Varna and were heading more inland to the more mountainous area of Veliko Tarnovo where we arrived at Stupid O Clock in the morning at dark dark dodgy looking bus station.

Rolling to his left during his sleep was a habit Del was about to do for teh last time...
But we had no fear cos after bussing, training and catching trams all over Europe we were now having the pleasure of being picked up and chauffeur driven to our hostel in a car. Sure it wasn't a limo but instead a scrappy old rust bucket, but chauffeur driven nonetheless. And we had arrived at just the right time as the next morning the hostel had arranged transport to take everyone to a waterfall leading into a rock pool where we spent the day jumping off from the top. I was like Leonardo DiCapprio from the beach, and just as skinny too with the amount of weight I had lost so far on the travels. Now I'm never one to exaggerate, but if I was I'd exaggerate by 20 metres. The rocks we were jumping from were 24 metres high. I did a couple of good 'ol John Smith running bombs and a swallow dive that scored a 3.5 from my girlfriend judge. And she was being generous too. In the evening time along with Morten from Copenhagen and a couple of French chicks we headed to restaurant that is supposedly one of the best in all of Bulgaria. By the end of the meal the others decided the food was great but I didn't find mine very filling at all, although this was probably due to my dish not turning up. Best restaurant in Bulgaria? I'd love to visit the worst! At night, along with Jason form California, we headed to yet another International Folk Dancing Festival that, shock horror, didn't have any representatives from England and Australia. We're not having that we thought and although we tried, security was tight and getting on stage to bust out a few Disco Stu moves was neigh impossible. Besides, we had turned up too late anyway and only caught the shitty awards ceremony.

 

The following day we headed to the famous Tsarevets Fortress with Owen and Lou who had joined us earlier that day. What was the fortress like? It was big and made of stone and looked like every other bloody fortress. You can probably tell I'm getting bored with writing about fortresses right? But one night a week they do this really cool light show where big colourful spotlights flash across the fortress and surrounding mountainside that would make Fox Mulder of X-Files fame cream his pants thinking it's an alien picnic get together. And what's more we inadvertently missed the whole show cos we were too busy staying inside the hostel watching TV highlights of the previous nights folk dancing festival and trying to spot ourselves on Bulgarian national television. Fuck sake.

 

The next day was spent travelling to Bulgaria's second largest city, Plovdiv, and one at the hostel we done bugger all as the heaven's said 'They they are!' and proceeded to piss down rain on us from far above for the whole night. And so we thought we'd take the opportunity to catch a good sleep but it wasn't to be as I was awoken at a bloody stupid time on the morning by some bells ringing… and ringing… and ringing. I still have the bloody ringing noise in my ears now as I write this. I swear to god the bells would just not fucking stop, it was like Quasimodo had finally snapped after being stuck in that stupid tower all his life. Then to make matters worse, a dog started barking and it too wouldn't shut up. I couldn't help thinking the dog was sporting a few hump backs and all.

 

As if by this point of our trip we hadn't seen enough of caves, Mands and I soon found ourselves travelling a few hours south with a French guy and English chick to check out Bulgaria's most beautiful cave, the Yagodina. On the way we stopped of to have a butchers at the Bachkovo Monastery which looked like it had been tagged with spray paint by a load of teenage rebel monks. Well one can argue the monks do wear hoodies. A for the Yagodina cave itself the place was really impressive, the type of cave Batman would purchase if he ever won the lottery, although the public khazi outside had a lot to be desired. Actually, there wasn't even a khazi but a marble plate on the ground with a hole in the middle which, if you didn't aim too well, you'd be walking home with a squelching noise coming from inside your shoe. I've seen better toilets at Glastonbury and believe you and me, that's saying something. By the time we got back to the hostel Brits Owen and Lou had arrived convincing Mands and I that we had gained a couple of psycho stalkers intent on following us around the Eastern Bloc. This must be what Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie must feel like, but on a slightly lesser scale. Anyroad, the following day we checked out the Plovdiv Old Town and walked up this big arsed hill to see a monument and the view of the town. It was great. Another site was what generally Plovdiv is famous for, the 8000 year old Amphitheatre which amazingly still stands. Apparently Jesus gigged here once when he was touring with his band whilst taking a year out from the preaching game. It was quite a theatre to see and I greatly appreciated to see something so old and special, because let's face it, if we had the same sort of thing in London it would be bulldozed down and turned into flats in next to no time. Returning to the hostel we discovered the place had been over run by 24 Frenchies on a college trip which low and behold gave me the greatest opportunity to touch up on my French insults. Although they were all younger and smaller than me, I was vastly outnumbered and soon resembled a dead carcass being attacked by a swarm of ants and I had no option but to flee to the capital of BulgariaSofia.

 

Arriving at night time we crashed at a cheap random hostel that couldn't afford carpet so the owner improvised by placing down some unwanted astroturf presumably recovered from a skip outside a sports ground. If only I'd brought my golf clubs I thought, I could have challenged the owner to a game of pitch and putt. The following day quickly found ourselves moving to another hostel where we met up once again with the Danes Luke and Nina and of course stalkers Owen and Lou. Goes without saying now doesn't it.

 

Here's a quick story for you guys. Mands and I were walking around the city seeing what we could get up to when Mands says to us 'Right, the plan is…' and a random Dutch guy walking past jumps in our conversation and says, 'to go to a bar'. Well that done it for us and soon we were at bar with this random stranger, something my parents always warned me against when I was a child. We found ourselves sitting at a table with this fella who's covered in tattoos, chewing our sears of talking about stuff, when he suddenly pulls out this giant flick knife that scared the crap out of the people sitting around us. It was like that prop knife off Crocodile Dundee only for real. Oh what a line that was, remember it? 'That's not a knife, this is a knife!' Anyroad, there I was thinking Rambo had aged badly until he introduced himself as Peter. Why do psychos always have normal names? This psycho decided to take us on a little site seeing tour of his adopted city, whether we went with him cos we wanted to or cos we were forced to I'm still deciding, and ended up showing us all these cool and interesting things that you'd only know of if you lived in the city for a while. And being as he didn't steal all our cash before slitting our throats, I'd put him in the category of being an alright bloke.

 

Our nights out involved going to a bar that used to be a WWII fascist base for some propaganda printing, or some bollocks like that. It was all dark and gloomy inside, made completely of wood with only a few candles dotted around the place to give it a little faint light. You'd think its stupid having lots of open flames in a dark bar made of wood, wouldn't you, what with the fire risk and all that. Well I have news for you, that's not a risk at all. The stupid thing is allowing me to enter the bar and start playing with the candles, at which I was beginning to have a panic attack and was thinking of making a run for it after I'd knocked over a candle whilst playing with it, only to see it set another candle and some rubbish on fire. Spare a thought for me guys, I'm still trying to get over the Kings Cross incident years ago. On another night I decided to dress up in my hippy gear to go out raving – only to be refused entry cos I looked like a twat. It seemed like a shit club anyway.

  

And guys, I have news here that will shock you all. After 24 years of contributing to the extinction of animals, I finally plucked up the courage and visited a vegetarian restaurant, but was a tad disappointed when I discovered on the menu there was no carnivore section. Well it's only fair, after all Beefeater restaurants have a vegetarian selection. Anyroad, I tucked into some sort of meal and thought I'd done well until we started walking back to the hostel when I couldn't stand the withdrawal symptoms any longer and ended up devouring a road kill I found lying by the sidewalk. A stray cat I think it was, although I could be mistaken as the creature was pretty mangled.

 

Other adventures included meeting Brits Dam and Em who told us how great Sierra Leon is, and there's me thinking the place is still a war zone. I also joined the absolutely fucking magnificent website couchsurfing.com to try and blag a free stay in Italy and Spain, but thus far it was proving fruitless. And thus my conclusion of Bulgaria – great country, great people, great food but shit service, but enough of that already cos Mands and I had to catch a train to Serbia. And tired of Brits Owen and Lou following us, we decided to take them with instead!

 

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