I am not sure where or when my fascination with Bulgaria originated, however it is wonderful to be at a place in life where one can investigate ones curiosities. Whether it is ancient or modern history, Bulgaria has something worth checking out. What I hadn’t anticipated was the physical beauty and diversity of the country.

As we made our way to the east coast of the country on a southern route we were treated to beautiful fall foliage in the mountainous west and central portion of the country.
Our route from Sofia to Burgas on the coast of the Black Sea. I have to admit it was pretty cool driving along and seeing an exit for Istanbul. Took me a moment to wrap my head around that.

I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t mention the driving here in rural Bulgaria. We have rented a little Renault Clio, 5 speed manual transmission car. If you come here and rent an automatic transmission you are denying yourself of a great pleasure. We made our way through the mountainous western half of the country in lovely weather and relatively light traffic. I have not had this much fun driving since doing emergency response driving at work back in Canada. The roads here are excellent and I have not ever before had the joy of literally hours of non-stop winding roads to work the gears on. This is what driving is meant to be, so much fun. And a massive thank you to Karen for just sitting back and enjoying the ride without comment and a minimum of sucking air in through her teeth as we nailed corner after corner.

The side trip into Trigrad Gorge was a great treat. Single track roads with pullouts for when you encountered other vehicles.
The gorge itself is very impressive, with sheer stone walls rising 100’s of metres from the bottom.
We stopped at the premier monastery in the country, Rila Monastery. Quite spectacular. The paintings covering both the inside and outside walls are most impressive.
As well, the random churches that showed up along the way were pretty impressive as well. Many are in states of disrepair, however they certainly speak to the power the Eastern Orthodox Church held over the region for centuries even with the Ottomans ruling them for centuries.
One of the coolest items we saw repeatedly were these water fountains by the side of the road. They appeared everywhere along the roads and made for great rest stops and a chance to refill our bottles.
Karen couldn’t resist the opportunity to utilize them.
We spent a couple of days in the Town of Melnik. It is the smallest town in Bulgaria and is renown for its boutique wineries. So obviously we had to search out a tour and tasting.
Also while in Melnik we received an education in Bulgarian breakfasts. The owner of one of the few establishments open told us what we should have and then explained the proper way in which to enjoy it. Hint, you absolutely do not just pour the yoghurt over the pastry.
Hands down, so far, the City of Plovdiv has been my favourite stop. The architecture, history, and general vibe I have found to be wonderful.
We did the free walking tour the first chance we got and were not disappointed. Great introduction to an amazing city. The look on the guides face when we told him we were from Canada was hilarious. He has never met a Canadian in Bulgaria before.
One of the historical highlights of Plovdiv is the Ancient Roman Theatre. One of the best preserved in the world. It is still used for concerts and other performances. How cool would that be?
Karen doing some thinking in the Roman Stadium. If you are into ancient history, Emperor Marcus Aurelius had this stadium built. Plovdiv is arguably the oldest continuously occupied city in Europe. That makes for some impressive historical reading.
We met up with some like minded travellers while we were in Plovdiv and had a chance to explore a bit of the Old Town after dark.
While we were walking back to our car that evening we stumbled onto what was explained to me as a remembrance gathering that resulted in a traditional dance by a random group of Bulgarians. It was an interesting thing to observe.

Had we only had a clue how much we were going to like Plovdiv we might still be there. However the next day we had reservations in Burgas on the Black Sea coast.

This monument in Burgas highlighted something we had seen repeatedly in Bulgaria. An acknowledgement and appreciation for the Soviets in freeing Bulgaria from the Nazis at the end of World War 2. All the politics behind these are beyond my comprehension, but it was interesting to read inscriptions (when they were in English) on plaques and monuments acknowledging the sacrifices that occurred at that time. You have to love history.
With half our time in Bulgaria done it was good to arrive in Burgas and simply relax for a while. We have a lovely apartment for the week and are able to stroll along the coast each day.

We are looking forward to seeing what else Bulgaria has to offer. I have read there are a large number of old fortresses in the areas we will be passing through. Stay tuned.

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

6 comments on “Exploring Bulgaria

  1. Louise Cervi

    Sounds amazing, what an interesting trip.

  2. Hope you guys took advantage of the fill your own beer bottle in the supermarkets. Couldn’t believe it when I stumbled across the beer taps in one place. Bet you wouldn’t get Peter out of there Karen! 😄

  3. Kevin Pattison

    Hahaha oh Karen you are a gem.
    Grabing gears love it. So happy gor you two.

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