A Very Full First Day In Plovdiv

It was a pretty good night at the hostel. Other guests were quite noisy until about midnight, then it went quiet. The bed was very comfy and the temperature good thanks to the fan. I didn’t get enough sleep, but it was better than expected and I was surprisingly raring to go this morning.

First order of the day, find breakfast. After wandering for close to an hour here in Plovdiv and my experience in Sofia, I came to the determination that Bulgarians don’t eat breakfast. Oh, you’ll find them drinking teeny cups of coffee and smoking in cafes, but you don’t see anyone actually having a meal. Those who are are having a pastry and coffee to go.

I ended up at a Costa Coffee, which I knew would be expensive, but would at least have a good sized cup of coffee. I went to the cashier and said in Bulgarian, “Please, I would like a not small, not big Americano with very little milk and a croissant with jam.” The lady rang me up, gave me my order, and then said in perfect English, “Have a nice day!” *shakes head*

I passed this sign post near the central post office:

IMGP5222

I am more than the equivalent of a round trip to Maz from Haven away from the East Coast of the US!

IMGP5223

I asked a couple of people today about this mosaic, but no one could tell me what it means. First line is Plovdiv, second line is Leningrad. I think the date is 1980?

IMGP5224

I went back to the hostel and did a bit of work and translation before heading out for a few hours. I decided to check out the history and archaeology museums as they are right by each other. So I headed towards the Maritza River.

IMGP5226

Like Sofia, Plovdiv has pedestrian underpasses for crossing busy boulevards.

IMGP5227

My first ice cream of the day! I was asked how I deal with the heat. Ice cream. Lots of ice cream. I have small portions (sometimes multiple times a day!) and get it in a cup if I can. This is Kit Kat flavour.

IMGP5228

Plovdiv is difficult to get around as it is laid out in what I consider the exact opposite of a grid pattern, so there is a lot of signage in the touristy part of town!

IMGP5229

This is the monument to the unification of Bulgaria, outside the unification museum.
IMGP5230

This says history museum, but that’s really misleading as it’s strictly about the unification of Bulgaria in 1885.

IMGP5231

IMGP5232

I was greeted in English and shown where to start, then was left to my own devices. A decent chunk of the museum had good English translations and I spent some time reading quite a bit of the Bulgarian (got in lots of practice with the lower case script). I am definitely picking up some vocabulary.

This appears to be a map of trade routes:

IMGP5233

A bunch of stamps:

IMGP5234

Plovdiv’s original name:

IMGP5235

IMGP5236

What I got from this is that it’s about a bank safe:

IMGP5237

Yeppers. 🙂

IMGP5238

Old currency.

IMGP5239

Bicycle produced in France:

IMGP5240

IMGP5241

Cultural life in East Rumelia, one of the provinces that would become part of the state of Bulgaria after Unification.

IMGP5242

This newspaper is called Maritsa, just like the river that divides Plovdiv.

IMGP5243

Administrative organization of East Rumelia:

IMGP5244

IMGP5245

The establishment of the province of East Rumelia. It lasted seven years until Bulgarians showed they had the potential to manage their own affairs.

IMGP5246

The Congress of Berlin is what split up the original Bulgarian state, in 1878.

IMGP5247

IMGP5249

IMGP5251

IMGP5252

IMGP5253

This is the only man who was killed after unification. According to the guide on the walking tour yesterday, he went into a post office to send a missive about unification and the post master, scared of who knows what, chased this man into the street and shot him dead!

IMGP5254

“At the gates of Plovdiv, September 5, 1885.”

IMGP5255

IMGP5257

IMGP5258

IMGP5259

This is a turtle shell. I think it was turned into an ink well.

IMGP5260

Army medical supplies.

IMGP5261

Manifesto for the Bulgarian People: Bulgarians… and that’s as far as I got. 🙂

IMGP5262

Map of the route of the movement of the Bulgarian army from the southern to the western border during the Serbo-Bulgarian War.
IMGP5264

It was only on my way out that I found the English signage explaining the point of the museum!

IMGP5265

IMGP5266

IMGP5267

IMGP5268

IMGP5269

IMGP5270

And here’s a bit about this gorgeous building:

IMGP5271

IMGP5272

IMGP5273

This was my first Bulgarian museum and I’m surprised by how much I got out of it! Little did I know what awaited me next door at the Archaeological Museum…

IMGP5274

This museum did not allow photographs, which is unfortunate because it was one of the best museums I’ve ever been to! I went through twice and spent the whole time saying, “WOW!” under my breath. It covers the history of Plovdiv from prehistory to the Middle Ages and is very professionally done with flawless English translations. I made a note on my map of some of the incredible things I saw.

In the prehistory section, I really liked the ancient pottery and tools, which ranged from flint knives to Bronze Age hatchets. The room about the Thracians, a collective of ancient peoples with no written tradition, had ancient giant safety pins that looked rather like modern ones. I immediately envisioned that the Thracians wore some sort of toga-like garment.

There was a small room about the history of the museum and the building, how both fell into ruin and were restored. This room also had some old coins.

There was a large room about Plovdiv in the classic and hellenistic periods, featuring black on red pottery, ornaments, and weapons. Nothing I’d never seen before, but the first time I’d seen them in their point of origin! Off of that was a tiny room about the coins of Philippopolis. They were tiny! This was the first currency of the region.

And then… what I will remember as the mosaic room, but which is the ancient Philippopolis room. It had lots of other things besides the mosaics, but that’s what I remember best. This is a representation of one that you can see from outside the museum:

IMGP5276

This is a very important piece as it is the first (and only) proof of an ancient synagogue in this region!

The final room, Plovdiv in the Middle Ages, had some belt buckles that look strikingly like modern design.

I highly recommend the Plovdiv archeological museum. I suspect visiting it will be one of the top highlights of my Bulgarian summer!

The restaurant where I wanted to have lunch was right behind the archaeology museum, so I considered that a sign: Restaurant India! For someone who didn’t like Indian food most of her life, I’m making up for lost time!

IMGP5277

Beautiful decor inside. I wanted to eat outside, but there were no tables.

IMGP5278

This is the first menu I’ve seen in Bulgaria that I found to be expensive (reviews support that impression). I just went with a beer, butter chicken, and plain naan. I would have liked rice to go with all that sauce, but just this represented 20BGN with the tip:

IMGP5279

Thankfully, the food was wonderful! I was asked how spicy I wanted my meal and said, “A little.” The chef understood that perfectly and I got just enough heat to make my nose run, but not so much that I couldn’t taste my food. After a couple of months of my cooking, these still exotic flavours really hit the spot! Shame it’s so expensive, but it was a worthwhile treat.

Then, since I was right at the Maritza River, I crossed it using the pedestrian overpass. It was like a sauna in there!

IMGP5282

The Maritza River.

IMGP5283

Starting to think it’s impossible to get a picture of a city in Bulgaria without a McDonald’s being in the way! I thought the house to the left was quite interesting.

IMGP5285

See the RV?

IMGP5286

The archeological museum had inexpensive post cards, so I bought one for Bast. The central post office is right by button plaza, so I headed there to mail the card. What a contrast to my post office experience in Sofia! All the necessary signage was translated (badly, but let’s not quibble) into English so I knew which room to go into and then which wicket. I said to the lady in Bulgarian, “I would like a stamp please.” She looked at my card and said in fluent and bored sounding English, “One lev and 40 coins please.” There’s so much English in Plovdiv! After I got my stamps I went outside to post the card, but was puzzled that there was no mailbox, until I saw this:

IMGP5289

I was pretty sure my post card didn’t warrant priority, so I put it in that “forein countries without priority” slot. Hope it gets there!

I then wandered up the hill back into the Old Town, soaking in the atmosphere of this truly ancient city.

IMGP5290

IMGP5291

The cobblestone streets are the worst I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe cars drive on them. This is a good patch!

IMGP5292

This translation amused me.

IMGP5293

My Mexico dresses would not look out of place in Bulgaria!

IMGP5294

Here’s the exterior of that St. Constantinople and Elena church we passed on the tour yesterday:

IMGP5295

IMGP5296

IMGP5297

More bad cobblestones!

IMGP5298

Our guide had told us to visit the Hindlyan House to get an idea of 19th century Bulgarian architecture.

IMGP5299

I love these narrow passageways. They remind me of Edinburgh.

IMGP5300

The house is behind another one and down a bit:

IMGP5302

IMGP5303

IMGP5304

The information panel for the house was in Bulgarian, English, German, and French. I can’t speak as to the quality of the Bulgarian and German, but the French had more info than the English! The house was built between 1835 and 1840 and is about 2,000 square feet over two stories. It was restored in 1974, but the exterior paint and frescoes are all original. It is the only  house with a well preserved bathroom that had hot and cold running water.

This was the bathroom!

IMGP5307

IMGP5308

The ceilings in all the rooms were works of art:

IMGP5309

IMGP5310

IMGP5311

IMGP5312

IMGP5313

IMGP5314

This was a fortified storehouse:

IMGP5315

IMGP5316

IMGP5317

I continued wandering around. So much beauty!

IMGP5320

IMGP5321

IMGP5322

Remains of Byzantine fortress walls!

IMGP5324

IMGP5325

Unfortunately, the ethnographic museum was closed because of renovations. It might be open tomorrow. This is what the exterior looked like:

IMGP5326

Today, there was a lot of demolition going on!

IMGP5327

Here’s the back of that gossip tower from the tour yesterday:

IMGP5328

IMGP5329

IMGP5330

IMGP5331

I went back to Lamartine’s house and ogled:
IMGP5332

I found my way back to the Roman amphiteatre and dropped! The full heat of the day was upon us at this point. I had no idea I could move this slowly, but there I was, just slinking through the streets of Plovdiv’s Old Town and trying not to melt!


IMGP5333

IMGP5334

IMGP5335

And back to Lamartine’s house, but not by design!

IMGP5336

Is that perhaps a chimney?

IMGP5337

IMGP5338

IMGP5339

Another bronze statue, no idea of whom:

IMGP5340

IMGP5341

IMGP5342

I wish I could come back to see Tosca at the Ancient Theatre before I leave!

IMGP5343

Here’s a map of the tourist part of Plovdiv:

IMGP5344

I headed back to my hostel for a mid-afternoon break, stopping at this fountain right by the hostel to get a cold drink to fortify me for the climb up to my room!

IMGP5345

I cooled off and rested for a bit, writing my post about the walking tour and trying to decide where to go for dinner. I came up with two possibilities. While all of this was happening, it began to rain, which I hoped would cool things down!

Around six, I headed straight up to the Old Town again, right to the summit of Nebet Hill, to check out a Bulgarian restaurant I’d spotted yesterday. It ended up not being that appealing, so I headed to my second choice in The Trap. I have to say that I’m shocked by how little of an effort that climb was, especially since it wasn’t as hot. All my dog hiking is paying off!

My second choice for dinner was the Italian restaurant Maramao.

IMGP5348

I loved the bricks outside of it:

IMGP5349

I was greeted warmly in English and took a seat in their covered courtyard. The menu was in Bulgarian, English, and Italian. I settled on a glass of white wine and a main, but was tempted by one of their appetizers. I asked the server about the main portion size and if he thought it would be too much for an appetizer. He asked what appetizer I had in mind and when I told him, he said he was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be too much for me as the appetizer was quite light. So I ordered it!

Here is my roasted pear with gorgonzola (blue cheese), balsamic vinegar, and walnuts. *drools at the memory* This would have made a good dessert for me!

IMGP5350

I took some pictures of the courtyard while waiting for my main and drinking my crisp cold Bulgarian white wine:

IMGP5351

IMGP5352

And here is my main. These are “tordelli,” a type of ravioli, with a ragú sauce that had cinnamon or maybe nutmeg in it. Very good!

IMGP5354

With the tip, my meal was just 3BGN more than lunch,which really shows how expensive my lunch was. Every other time I’ve spent around 20BGN for food, I’ve had a main with an alcoholic beverage and either an appetizer or dessert.

I headed back to the hostel after dinner and was just two blocks away when it started pouring! I was rather glad to have an excuse to call it a night!

23 thoughts on “A Very Full First Day In Plovdiv

  1. What a great review.
    The Class C had their doors open for you to visit 😉
    You need a pedometer to figure out how much walking you do. You do lots.
    Be safe, hugs.

  2. Looks like you are having a great time.

    An observation about capital cities, whether they are national (D.C.) or state. The residents take themselves way too seriously.

  3. What a beautiful city and I love that Italian restaurant!

    I was intending to ask you about RV’s. That one looks to be what? 26 feet? Rather large by European standards. Do you see many RV’s? Any RV parks? Boondockers?

    • Lots of fish here; you wouldn’t starve! I haven’t seen a lot of RVs, but this was one of the larger ones. Haven’t been anywhere yet to notice RV parks or boondockers.

  4. The mosaic is in honour of Plovdiv’s sister city, St Petersburg Russia. I used Google Images to find that out.

  5. Hi Rae thanks for the great tour. Love the pictures. Looks like you are having yourself a great time. Good for you…. going to miss you in Maz… cheers Sue

  6. Plovdiv looks like a lovely spot and reminds me so much of our time in the Czech Republic. Now it makes me even more excited to get to Romania in November.

    Glad you were able to find some time to get away and do some exploring. Keep on having fun!

    Ruth

  7. Rae, what a wonderful tour, and thank you for such a detailed summary. Who would have “thunk” that anyone in Bulgaria would know that the tiny city of Columbia, SC even existed. On second thought, Columbia does have a great international studies program at the University of SC, and maybe someone from Plovdiv participated in that program and remembered the city, just a wild guess!! Yep, you are getting a good workout with all the walking and climbing.

    Dee
    Summerville, SC, USA

    • It’s surprising how small the world is, isn’t it?! One of the first Bulgarians I met had been to one Canadian city and wanted to know where I live in relation to it. It wasn’t the expected Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver, but Edmonton of all places! The owner of the hostel here has been to Mérida, Mexico, when many folks I know who have been going to Mexico for years have no idea where Mérida is.

      I tend to be pretty active, but I’m not used to the HILLS. I thought the big Leandro Valle hill in Mazatlán was exercise, LOL.

  8. Pingback: The Bulgarian Mail System Definitely Seems Reliable! |

Leave a Reply to Travel with Kevin and Ruth Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *