Sunday, January 20, 2013

Veliko Tarnevo

I'll catch up on my blog posts eventually... I hope.
Back to October Break (only 3 more cities to talk about ;) )...
Originally, we thought we were going to have to take a night train from Bucharest to Veliko Tarnevo because  according to all the information we could find on the internet, this was the only time there was a train. This involved us arriving at some random Bulgarian town near Veliko at like 5 in the morning and having to take a taxi to Veliko, else we would have to wait two hours for the train to get there. Luckily, we went to the train station the day before we planned to do this and we were able to get a very helpful woman (who spoke to us in French because that was the language we had common!) who got a us a train reservation for around noon. This cut our time in Bucharest short by half a day, but it was certainly worth it. 
So we woke up and checked out of our hostel to head to the train station. We thought we had given us enough time to get the train station, in fact we had left pretty early. But first we had to get ourselves food for on the train because we wouldn't be getting to Veliko until around 8 and we also decided to have lunch (rather than waiting until the train station, because we were starving). All this went okay until we got to the grocery store. Tristan stayed outside so we wouldn't have to check our bags and I went in to grab food as quick as I could. The problem was that I couldn't find any sort of chip like thing at all in the store. I searched and searched until I found them finally -- in the back corner of the second floor. By this time, we were running a bit late. But it would have all worked out if we hadn't gotten on the metro going the wrong direction... and then not realized it until like 5 stops later. We decided we needed to take a taxi to get there in time, so we exited the metro and there were some cabs right there. We approached the first cab, and when we told him where we needed to go, he just shook his head. Thankfully, the second cabbie got us to the train station with 5 minutes to spare. We were so thankful, we paid twice what we owed (the rest of our Romanian money).
A long train ride, with a border crossing that took literally 2 hours, later, we arrived in Veliko Tarnevo. The hostel picked us up at the train station and then directed us to their favorite restaurants. 
We ended up at Ego, which we later returned to several times despite the TERRIBLE (and I mean TERRIBLE service) because the pizza was yummy and they had the best ice cream cake ever. Also, it was inexpensive and had an awesome view.
Tristan, the Restaurant, and girl with horrible hair. Seriously, it looked ridiculous.

And the view would be something like this. Like everything in Bulgaria, the prices at this restaurant belied it's location. 
The next day we both woke up with somewhat sore throats - a hint of the cold to come. But we set off to see the fortress, which is really the only tourist attraction of the city.

As we entered the fortress, there was a man with an animatronic king and queen who informed us that this fortress is super important and unique because "many people lived and died [there]." 

I choose to believe that opasnost means "Don't do ballet on the fortress walls."

Looking towards Veliko -- as you can see, it was much warmer here than it was in Brasov.
The fortress was very interesting and the views were very pretty. We spent the early afternoon exploring the rest of the city. Particularly we searched for this road  that led along the canyon and good views or something that was supposed to be really awesome according to the travel book we had. We never found it but we did get followed by a creepy crazy seeming old guy. Almost as soon as we lost him, we we chased down by a woman who told us in broken English that she has a bed and breakfast and we should stay there and that if we come with her, we could meet the two Washingtonians who were there. Needless to say, we declined.
Later, we searched for Turikish Bath ruins that were marked on the map in the travel guide. We found them, we think. They were supper underwhelming... the rocks could have been from anything to be honest.
We planned to rent a car the next day to go to Buzludzha (an abandoned socialist monument pictured below) and also Gabrovo (which is the city Tristan would have been living in had he decided to do Fulbright instead of coming to France).
But by the end of the day, it was pretty clear that we were sick and weren't going to be do anything the next day. We spent most of the day in bed, with a trip out only to go to the mall to see Skyfall (with Bulgarian subtitles), we also ate lunch at another Ego at the mall. And that's when we discovered the best ice cream cake ever. 
usually, I think it's pretty silly to take pictures of food, but I made an exception for this delicious cake . I'd probably go back to Veliko just for this cake.

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