Bulgaria
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Bulgaria 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 friendly.

The Countryside

Most 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.

Veliko Tarnovo

Our 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.

Black Sea

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.

Summary

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 Journal entry.

 

 

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