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Brad’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 07 Jul 2005

Location: Sophia, Bulgaria

MapWell, I've returned once again to Sophia after several days spent exploring the Bulgarian towns of Varna and Plodiv. After leaving picturesqe Veloko Tarnovo, I headed out to the Black Sea coast to Bulgaria's third lagest city (with a population of about 350,000 - there's not many people in Bulgaria!), Varna. I got there pretty late, about 9:00, and spent half and hour plodding up and down the street the hostel was on, it was so badly marked it took me that long to find it!

I stayed in Varna for three nights. There's not a great deal to do here, but I met some really great people at the hostel and hung out with them for a few days. We all went out together one night and had a great time together! In Varna there's not so much a beach as a long stretch of bars and night clubs, so even when we went out on a Monday night it was still pretty packed! There was me, Francesco, a really funny Italian guy who took about an hour to get ready - very smooth though, Abel, a cool French dude who served with the Blue Berets in Rwanda, and Jenny and Anna, two nice English girls. Well, after having several red bull and vodkas bought for me, the night started getting pretty crazy (that combo it truly lethal!) and we all ended up swimming in our underwear at the beach in full view of the whole night club. I was also unfortunate enough to take a bit of a stack and totally bust my ankle...how embarrasing.

The next day Francesco drove us all to the Golden Sands beach resort, about half an hour from Varna. I have to say, I am yet to understand the Europen concept of beach. This beach was fairly nice as far as they go, but totally covered in sunbeds and umbrellas, and if anyone went in more than waist depth the lifeguards would start blowing their whistles furiously and insist the you come back in.

Last night I arrived in Plodiv, another 'big' Bulgarian city (about 400,000 people), again quite late, and I've been exploring the city this morning. It's really nice, lots of pedestrian only spaces and lovely old houses in the old city. I was fortunate enough to go into a house museum with a piano, and convinced the lady there to let me play it for an hour. The piano wasn't very good, but it certainly relieved an urge I've been having - I have been salivating at the sight of pianos for the last few weeks! I also met this cool bulgarian guy who was busking outside our hostel on his zither/dulcimer thing. He was really good, playing music from Mozart to gypsy music. It was such a wonderful way to wake up with his music drifting in through the hostel window.

I have decided to do some trecking for the next few days in the Rila mountains - they are apparantly very beautiful and well set up with huts along the way that supply food and accomodation, so all I'll need is my sleeping bag. I'll probably walk for three days, starting at a town called Mariovtsa and walking to the seven lakes and then to the Rila Monastry. That's the plan, anyway!

Oh, yes, and for those of you who are awaiting more photos, the internet cafes here mostly don't accept USB devices so apologies, but you'll just have to wait until I find one that does!