was a step back in time from modern Turkey. Rural areas seemed to be stuck
in the 19th century while towns and villages seemed to have 20th century
conveniences. As in most places we have been people were
friendly and honest.
||Bulgaria - The Country
A fragment of the old
USSR, Bulgaria remains under control of an elected Communist government.
The countryside seemed pretty backward to us but Veliko Turnovo had
shops, cafes, and internet spots. The country is due to join the
European Union in a few years and it has a lot of catching up to do.
Despite this, it seems like an open society and everyone was very
of Bulgaria where we drove was rural farmland. Most fields were being
worked by hand and animal - single plows being pulled by ox or men. Only 1
or 2 farms had machinery that we could see. We saw gangs of 10-20 men
digging ditches with picks and shovels along the road to lay pipes. The roads
from the Turkish border into the center of the country were good 2-lane roads,
well-maintained with little traffic. Some of the villages were interesting
and the Church of The Nativity caught our eye as we drove through one of them.
There are probably pearls like this scattered all around the country.
only real stop in Bulgaria, this cute medieval town surrounds a castle on a
hilltop - set up so the king could protect his peasants. The hillsides
were steep and the streets narrow, as we found when we had to back up 2 blocks
over cobblestone streets. The main street was modern and full of
college-age students, apparently this is a university town. The castle
attracts tourists so many of the shops in town cater to out-of-town tourists.
There were shops selling handicrafts and antiques - many had old Nazi and Soviet
era pins, binoculars, and similar souvenirs. The townspeople were somewhat
indifferent to us, but merchants were friendly.
We did not visit the Black Sea coast, but cruising
friends on a yacht named Airwave decided to try settling in Bulgaria
- partly because the housing costs were 10% of what they are in the
UK. They report good availability of property and easy going
with the locals.
Our visit was a tantalizing introduction and made us want to
come back for more, perhaps to see Sofia and the Black Sea coast. For more
of our visit, see our May 2004