12.06.2012 35 °C
The Romanian version of Mrs Doyle made my breakfast this morning, so at one point I had both a cup of tea and a cup of coffee. The bus for Bulgaria departed from right outside my hotel, so I had time for one last walk around before I left.
On the bus was a young Bulgarian woman, returning from four years in the UK. We chatted for most of the one and a half hour journey, other than when we both almost dozed off in the hot sun. The landscape south of Sinaia is flat and cultivated right up to the edge of the Danube, which forms the border with Bulgaria. Although it was sad to leave beautiful Romania, it was exciting crossing over the river into a new country.
Once we arrived in Ruse, I bought some Bulgarian money and a ticket for the bus to Veliko Tarnovo, leaving in an hour. Compared to the Romania buses, this one was modern with air conditioning and even seat belts. Thank god, for that too. The driver was the worst yet, weaving in and out of traffic, passing on blind sections, and trailing trucks by about half a metre at great speed. He drove with one hand all the way, either one resting over the seat beside him, or the other on his cellphone. Sometimes I suspect he was doing both. The journey took about two hours, and the scenery is quite different. Here, you see brown fields, towering rock faces, and lots of different kinds of trees and shrubs. Of course, the language has changed too, and I face the greater challenge of not being able to read the writing system. Although while I waited for the bus, I practiced with my phrase book, and started to pick out a few words.
Half way through the journey, we stopped for some passengers and a large lady in a pink dress got on and sat on me. Despite the rest of the bus being empty, she wanted to sit opposite her friend, so took the seat beside me and half of mine. Squished in the corner, with a maniac driver, and searing temperatures outside, I wondered whether I might change my travel plans and just head straight for the Mediterranean Coast.
When I reached Veliko Tarnovo, I phoned my hostel who had promised to pick me up from the bus station, only to be told that they didn't do pick ups from the bus station I was at. So, I hauled my bindle over to a local bus, got on, counted six stops, and got off again. Then I trudged up the hill, absolutely sweltering, until I had to phone the hostel again for further directions. Eventually, the hostel guy came walking up the road to meet me and happily stated that it's all part of the experience. When we got to the hostel and someone told me that the information centre said it's 37 degrees, I started to beat the hostel guy with the hostel pamphlet.
After I checked in, and changed clothes, I set out for the Tsarevets Fortress. Built in 1186, it must have been a massive structure (and feat of engineering) as the ruins today are still huge. As I walked up the road, I could just imagine the Tsars riding up to the fortress in their bear hide coats and hats. Or in this weather, just their togs.
I walked around the site for a couple of hours, but it was just so hot, it was hard to appreciate it properly.
Still, it was very nice and has some great views out over the surrounding town. The Orthodox Monastery has quite different pictures to those in Romania, so that was interesting*, and the executioners rock hanging out over a drop to certain death was chilling. They have a light show here if there are enough tourists in town, which I hope to see.
I had dinner at a local restaurant and met a Scottish couple who have been here for a week, enjoying the town, but not so much the heat. I need to go and find a nice cold beer to help me sleep as it's 9.30pm and still 31 degrees.
- I later found out that is because it's now an art gallery rather than a monastery, hence the different paintings.