We has passed Plovdiv two years ago on our way back from Turkey. As with most large towns on the outskirts they never look appealing. This time we did some reading and decided to head to the centre where we found a park next to the river close to the old town centre. After getting a map from the friendly girl at the tourist information centre we were pleasantly surprized with what we saw as we explored the old centre. Our sim card was playing up so we went to the large city mall where the lady in the phone shop reset it, all good and working again.
We headed away from the busy shopping mall to the side streets, it was quite warm so we found a nice restaurant with tables set under the shade of trees. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch, having the healthy alternative of salads, with a side plate of their potato special dish.
We walked back to the old town via the back streets passing a beer shop and some interesting street art. With map in hand we finished seeing the sights that we missed in the morning culminating at the old fortress at the highest point of the town. This was selfie central with people posing and getting that perfect photo.
At the end of a busy day we drove out of town to a wild camping spot we had found 2 years ago. The place is next to a river and is used by the locals as a picnic area. Jenny had kept the GPS co-ordinates and 14 kilometres out of town we easily found the place again. In fact it was so nice that we decided to stay for 2 nights catching up on the clothes washing as water was abundant. It was also still hot and being next to water was cooler.
The river water was clear and Ewout had a swim but not for long as it was freezing cold. On the second day we filled up our buckets and let the sun warm the water so we could have an outside shower. The second day was a Sunday and the place was busy with the locals picnicking and playing in the river. The highlight of the day was when a man in a van stopped next to us and started talking, he spoke no English but I caught the word ice-cream. He opened up the back and he had cones and 2 large ice-cream containers with different flavours. Very cheap and delicious we savoured our unexpected treat.
We had heard various reports about Sofia and it was a toss-up whether to go in and have a look. Driving into big cities is no longer a bother after driving in Istanbul Ewout finds everything else is a bit of a doddle.
It’s the parking aspect that can be daunting, but in this case the parking could not have been easier. After a traffic jam coming into town due to road works we easily arrived in the centre next to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and parked almost up to the front door, well very close. The parking attendant came and we paid for three hours parking at 1 euro per hour.
We walked around the old town looking at the sites and visiting a few churches, all of which did not allow photos inside. Stopping for coffee and a break near to the Sofia statue, some places still don’t understand iced coffee. Jenny’s was cold coffee and ice, mine however got lost in translation when she asked if I wanted icecream. It came as hot coffee with a scoop of icecream, making it warm coffee and not very enjoyable.
We were very glad we had made the venture into Sofia, some of the buildings reminded us of Vienna and there were plenty of parks and well maintained gardens. Lunch consisted of two large bread rolls, and iced tea and a large beer bought from a small corner café, all for $6. We took our food and drinks and sat in the local park and enjoyed the pleasant ambiance, as the buzz of the city surrounded us.
The drive out of Sofia was easy and we headed west towards the border of Macedonia.
The Kadin Most
Before the border we took a side trip to the village of Nevestino, we had read about an old stone bridge built in 1470. After a pleasant drive through some back roads we were not disappointed and found the bridge a picturesque sight. Looking for a good vantage point for a photo we went for a walk through the nearby park. It was while we were in the park we heard birds in the tree making a strange noise. Looking up we saw a kitten on a branch being harassed by the birds. Ewout pulled the branch down and coaxed the kitten down the branch and grabbed it when it was close. The kitten was very appreciative and could not stop purring and wanted to be petted. The problem we then had was it wanted to follow us and we eventually had to leave the park and the kitten behind.
There was no overnight spots near the old bridge so we drove down the road near to the newer bridge where we found a clearing next to the river. We parked close to the side of the river and soon were in conversation (well hand signals) with an old man who had been fishing. He was friendly and interested in where we had come from, what we found most amusing was his old bike, instead of the usual handlebars he had a car steering wheel attached to it. The end to another busy day, we were very tired. Who said that this travelling business is easy??
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