The picturesque port of Geiranger, Norway!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Geiranger, Norway!

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Exploring southwestern Norway until July 26th.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Max went on an adventure! And the city of Veliko Tarnovo

When we had driven up into the mountains behind the city of Slevin, we were surprised at the good condition of the road. In Bulgaria, the roads are in overall poor shape. Lots of potholes, even on major highways. But this road had been not bad.

So when we left and headed towards Veliko Tarnovo, we carried on, on the same road.

Not a good idea!

It started off okay...

Decent two lane road.

But notice how half the opposite lane is starting to disappear.

And now it's starting to get rough.

Fortunately there was no traffic.
But maybe that's because the locals know better!

We played a 14 km (8.7 mile) game of Dodge the Pothole.

But the road became more and more narrow. And more and more overgrown. But we only had another 10 kms to go before we got to the main road. And to turn around would have meant a detour of about 50 kms (30 miles).

So we kept going. Ruth took a video for you. Turn up your volume...


You may have heard a branch scratch against Max's side. That happened several times, and in fact once I had to get out to break some branches back. But it sounds worse than it is. There are some light scuff marks that will easily polish out, but no scratches. 

Me, breaking back some branches.

Despite the bad road, the scenery was beautiful.

This is still part of the paved road, but it's covered in mud.

We made it to the main road! But to our dismay, it was in just as bad of condition. In fact, maybe worse in spots. But at least it was wide enough for oncoming traffic, because there was actually traffic. This road is actually part of the Bulgaria vignette toll system!

Yes, we were crawling at times to get through these craters.

The road through town was bad too.

Finally! On to some decent road!

Scenery along the way.

We made it to the somewhat touristy town of Veliko Tarnovo. It is the ancient capital of Bulgaria, dating back to the 11th century. It's also the site of some Roman ruins dating to the 1st century. Veliko Tarnovo is also the most popular expat community in Bulgaria. And it's one of the few towns in Bulgaria that is actually growing in a country where the population has been in steady decline the last 20 years.

We decided to spend the 10 lev ($7.00 CAD, $5.50 USD) each to visit the fortress.

We will be heading up to the church on top of the hill.

It was quite a busy Sunday afternoon.
And it was a beautiful day, with a high of 26C (79F).

Zoomed in on this stork nest in the distance.

Part of the old fortress.

Veliko Tarnovo.
It's an attractive area. I can understand why expats like it here.



Map of what the area would have been like in the 14th century.




The church on top of the hill.

Inside the church.

Notice the block on the lower left.

This is an example of an old Roman stone being used in newer construction.

Roman ruins.

Bulgarian flag.

Artist depiction of what this particular spot of the fortress would have looked like.
It was all destroyed by the Turks in the late 14th century.

All that remains now.

Church off in the distance.

More Roman bits and pieces.

My, what big horns you have!

Another depiction of what used to be.

And what remains today.


The beautiful views are still there though.

Yes, sometimes she wants to chop my head off!

We walked over to the central area.

Looking back at the fortress.

They have these dandelion statues all over town.

Old Orthodox church.



Chandelier.

There are a lot of beautiful old homes in Bulgaria that are very run down.

Scenery along the way.



We stopped into a grocery store to buy an ice cream. We're not in Turkiye anymore! However, while ice cream is more expensive, beer is far cheaper. So it's a bit of a trade off.

They keep vodka in the freezer. 
What a civilized country!

Lots of people out enjoying the day.

Zoomed in on the fortress.

And looking back at the older part of the city.

Monument to the Assen Dynasty.

The Assens were three brothers who ruled Bulgaria after its liberation from Byzantium slavery in the 12th century. The first two - Assen and Peter have dedicated their lives to Bulgaria to survive as an independent state and their brother - Kaloyan to become one of the main forces in Eastern Europe.




These coffee machines are everywhere in Bulgaria.
Very cheap... about .50 lev per cup ($0.35 CAD, $0.27 USD) per cup!

Today, we are off to the city of Ruse... overlooking the Danube River with a view of Romania on the other side.

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Decent deal on this Landworks Mulcher Chipper.

And in Canada...


10 comments:

  1. I just really loved the picture of the lone pine tree in front of the mountains. Beautifully composed. The placement of the tree, its shadow, the interweaving mountains fading into the background... NICE JOB!

    And wow, those roads. Yikes.

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    1. Thank you so much! That is one picture where Kevin actually stopped driving and took instead of me taking it while we were driving. It really was a pretty scene.

      Yep, the roads in general are in pretty bad shape.

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  2. Yeah the roads in Bulgaria are not the best. I remmeber once I had to choise on google maps. One said 4 hours for 17km an another 2 hours for 46 km. I was like sure it can't be 4 hours for 17 km,I mean this road looks actually fine...wel so it did for the first 5 km and then it changed into a proper 4 wheel drive rocky road. So yes I had to turn back with my rental car.

    But glad you guys went to Veliko Tarnovo. I enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed my time in Bulgaria but from the 5 balkan countries I have done it is on number 5.

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    Replies
    1. Doesn't sound like you had a very good choice of roads with either route. Sometimes Google Maps really does know what it is talking about, sorry that you had to turn back but at that point it wasn't worth continuing on, especially in a rental car.

      We really enjoyed Veliko Tarnovo, we could easily have stayed another day or two to explore more of the area but we knew we had to keep moving on. We do look forward to coming back to Bulgaria and exploring more of the country as well as the other Balkan countries. Nice to get your opinion on how you think it rates compared to the others.

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  3. The only place I've seen roads that bad is Belize, but they were mostly unpaved. Still, during rainy season, those "craters" are brutal. We were always on bikes so could usually go around them, but sometimes they crossed the entire road, and we had no choice but to ride through. I hope Max is okay after his adventure!

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    1. We will have to keep that in mind when we eventually head down to Belize and beyond, someday in the future. Who knows maybe by then the roads there will have improved. Yes, trying to navigate roads like that are much easier on a bike than in a car. Max survived unscathed, we took it really slow!

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  4. Looking at the pictures of the bad road had me waxing sentimental, it reminds me of the roads here at home! Was the Roman era stone that was reused a tomb stone?

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    1. Lol, there are only two roads in Mexico that I remember us traveling on that could compare to this one. One is the road coming into Valle de Juarez coming down from the MEX-110 and the other one was coastal section of the MEX-180 going from Villahermosa to Isla Aguada.

      Honestly, we couldn't say if it was or not. From what I remember most Roman graves were more sarcophagi or mausoleums but it is possible that it might have been a tomb stone or it could have just been a plaque that was placed somewhere showing thanks for a donation of some statue or building by some elite person.

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  5. that picure of Kevin - off with his head - is too funny. Hope it doesn.t give my wife any ideas

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    1. Lol, I couldn't resist but decided at the last minute to keep him around a little longer, after all who would do the driving? I am sure that Jeannine wouldn't go through with it either. :-P

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