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Brad’s Travel Diary

Monday, 04 Jul 2005

Location: Varna, Bulgaria

MapAfter leaving Sophia I headed off to Veliko Turnovo which had been reccomended to me by several travellers. It's a beautiful little town set high above a meandering river surrounded by steep hills and dense thick forest. The old village is filled with tiny cobbled streets and traditional Bulgarian houses and churches, and overlooks a huge medieval citadel dating from when Veliko Turnovo was the capital of Bulgaria.

I have been rather enjoying the challenges of travelling without a guidebook - it is much more of an adventure to head into a city with no map, no idea where you're going and where you're going to stay. This lead to an interesting experience in Veliko Turnovo however. I was intending to stay at a hostel that I had found on the internet that was 20 levas for a dorm bed. As soon as I got off the bus I was approached by an older man saying he had accomodation for 15 levas per night. Normally I really can't stand hotel touts that hang around bus stations, but this time I thought I'd give it a go - he showed me his card and guestbook and seemed pretty trustworthy. I got in his car and he drove me to the other side of town to a group of falling apart Soviet-era apartments. I started to feel a little aprehensive at this stage but followed him into the nearest apartment block, known as Blok Moskow! Despite the decrpit appearence of the apartments, the inside was actually pretty nice and I had a full kitchen, TV, balcony, bathroom and three bedrooms all to myself. After staying in dorms for the last few weeks it was like a palace, and a nice change. It turned out Blok Moskow wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds!

At the moment I am in Varna, a bustling city on the Black Sea coast. The beach here looks pretty good, it is actually sand, but is somewhat spoiled by the combination of nighclubs and resteraunts that extend almost into the water and the contant rain.

The weather here has been pretty dismal, it's been raining pretty consistantly for three days now, but it sort of suits the landscape here. Bulgaria is a very green country, full of steep hills and misty forests that would well suit the description 'The Dark Woods', or 'The Forbidden Forest'. This combined with the tiny huts and villages that dot the landscape really make Bulgaria of place you imagine in fairytales.