Sunday, 5 August 2007

Day 74 - Plovdiv

Thursday dawned very hazy over Veliko Tarnovo, but at least it was dry. I lost my bearings and set off in totally the wrong direction but was glad I did as it took me to the town ramparts and they were well worth a look sitting at the top of a steep sided valley. I didnt stop long though and headed back up the hill and through the town centre. I really didnt do the place justice, but the weather didnt exactly help. As the day progressed the weather just got better and better and by mid afternoon it was a nice warm 32 degrees. Added to that I was away from the main roads and in a large valley at the foot of the mountains, lovey scenery and a thoroughly enjoyable ride. I reached Trojan by 15:30 and found a cheap hotel (4 pounds) so decided to stay. The town was nothing special but had a large pedestrian square. I went looking for a notebook for my diary and the "No 1 Office Warehouse" seemed a good place to start. They didnt have one but as I left I was called back and told they had a second hand one. A bit odd I thought, who wants a used notebook, so I returned just out of curiosity and found out it was a Dell notebook PC.

Leaving Trojan was straight into an 1100m climb, with any views obscured by trees, but at least that meant it was in the shade. The top 2-3km were above the treeline and I could see all the way back down to Trojan and it looked a long way down. Once over the pass the views across the other side were quite different, across a valley to another mountain range and I could see my route heading east for quite a way and it looked as through there was another climb. The descent was great 21km of it and much more open than the climb. I could see Karnare way down at the bottom and most of the time the road seemed to be heading away from it as it twisted down the mountain side. I was right, there was another climb after Karnare, but shorter this time at 13km, then through a steep wooded valley to Kaprovstricka where I stayed the night and what a gem this place is. It is little more than a village and the roads off are all steep and cobbled with lovely old wooden houses and the sort of place you want to walk down every street in case you miss something. Some of the houses are open to the public and as I arrived too late I made a late start the following day in order to see them, they were too good to miss. I stayed in a lovely room in an old wooden house for 6 pounds B&B, with a pot of coffee made on arrival and free use of the washing machine, you dont get that in a hotel. It was a slow days riding at an average speed of 13.6kph, but the 90k had 1850m of climbing, so it wasnt easy. Dinner was in a nice little resturaunt where amongst other things there was a choice of french fries or delicious french fries, I went for the ordinary ones as they were cheaper. When I removed my washing from the line I noticed it had all been turned inside out to speed up the drying, what a great hostess.

Breakfast the following morning was good too, plenty of bread, cheeses, sausage, jam and a pot of coffee, all for about 80p. I spent some more time in the village and it was well worth it, especially going inside the old houses which all had traditional furniture in. By the time I left at 11 the atmoshpere was changing as the place was filling up with coach parties. There was a little more climbing and then a nice lomg descent into the valley below. A bit further on I stopped at a bar for lunch as I didnt think there would be much else. The village drunk did a lot of shouting at me before staggering off. Some sober people turned up, one of which spoke English and we all talked for a couple of hours. The afternoon run in to Plovdiv was flat and I pushed the pace along nicely and arrived at about 5. I made my way out of the city looking for a campsite on the map. Once I was well out of the city I gave up and turned around and took a slip road to see what was down there it was, the campsite. I booked in for 2 nights. There was a Belgian camper van and a couple of Polish hitch hikers and the rest was bungalows. What I dump! Most of the bungalows were derelict and those that werent soon will be. There are no facilities for campers and the shower belongs to one of the bungalows and having seen inside I am glad I am in a tent. A thunderstorm soon set in but I get myself sorted in time. I couldnt understand who would want to use this place but in the evening I talked to the barman and he said that they rent the bungalows out for 4 hours and a time for sex purposes. Personally I still wouldnt want to come back, oh, hang on, I have got to stay there again tonight.

Today has rained and been very overcast when it hasnt been. I have spent the time in Plovdiv wandering from cafe to cafe, but managed to see the old city during a lull in the rain. There are some great old house similar to those in Koprivstitsa, but everything in between is very run down and tatty. A bit of a tidy up and a lick of paint amd it could be so much better.

Tomorrow I am on the move again and I should be in Istanbul in 4 days.

There is still no facilities to download photos, so when I next find one it will be a bit of a mammoth task.


dad said...

Trojan - Was the horse on display? If it was it was probably only a replica! If we go to Bulgaria next year we hope to visit Istanbul, so some first - hand knowledge of the public transport system will be useful. I know you won't be using the buses but you can see if they are running on four wheels and if there is more than two around.

dad said...

I have now seen all your photos. One that particularly appeals to my sense of humour is the one of the cattle in the shade of the poplar. I can picture them shuffling sideways as the sun goes round, and one saying to another "Moo-ve over Mabel, give me a bit of roo-m"

David & Lindsey said...

We need a few more photos of you John!! Beginning to think that you're holed up in a nice plush hotel somewhere in Paris down-loading pics of East European (not women!) towns and posting them on your blog, we need proof that you're really there!!