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Veliko Tarnovo and around

Sights and shopping.

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View Grandfolks Grand Tour on Combes Caper's travel map.

FRIDAY

Today we went shopping in town. Woke up to drizzle, though it was good to feel cool after yesterday's scorcher. Yet another of our lodgings going through change of ownership! This time it is a trio of Germans who have bought the place. Apparently they aim to double the number of rooms and redecorate, hope they put in a cafe/bar, though don't think there is room for restaurant .

Going up into town we took some steps and found a totally new area, to us, which has been restored, has lots of arts and craft workshops as well as gift shops. The baker's was intriguing, if you wanted serving a small, 14 x 10 inches lane was slid across and a face popped up! When the lady wasn't serving she picked up her ciggy and sat outside in the square.
The street out of the square is cobbled and lined with interesting old shops and houses all the way down it. So nice to find such treasures.

Also along our new found route we discovered many wall paintings, graffiti style which are very good, so will add those photos tonight.

Bernie ended up having a haircut, so we found little hairdressing salon up a back street. He looks proper tidy now he's all spruced up. Hair, eyebrows, ears the lot got whizzed over! Some impressed, so booked to get mine sorted. Result great, though their techniques different from ours. With the change B bought pair of shoes!

Thurs pm
Drove out and around the local area, Arbanasi, nearby, has a monastery. We couldn't find it, instead we found a really well kept settlement , definitely an upmarket area. Everything gleaming. There was a museum, but nowhere to pull up! Very annoying, as it looked a nice building too. Anyway we did some experimenting on short cuts to the main road, that got "interesting" tiny back lanes wedge between the grand houses, and getting the X Trail round the corners took some doing.
We then saw a sign for the monastery, just a tad down the road. It was just below the glam pads, the church building dated from mid 19 century. Beside it was a dormitory block . Surrounded by gardens, with pergolas laden with vines. There was a well,a row of workshops, but not a sound coming from anywhere! Apart from the birds.

This hadn't taken us very long so we thought we would explore further afield. Another monastery was at Dryanovo, what fun that was, at third attempt we found the tourist office, and what we thought was the monastery. No it was just a large wooden building. In the tourist info they said, "no we don't have a monastery , that is another 5 km away. The sign outside said 300m? Heading down the road we pressed on, came to a sign which said "monastery 1.5km, oh good we thought. Blast , split second later, the blue sign pointing left said "monastery 1km, we definitely hadn't travelled anywhere near as far. Overshot, so then had to find safe place to turn round. About 3 km later the road was about big enough to turn in, there being no side roads off. Going back downhill we had cars behind and managed to turn in. 2 km later, car park sign appeared. With meter sign. Parked and went looking for meter, there were stall holders standing around and all said " no ticket", luckily after our last experience, they were right.

The monastery and adjacent hotel had been funded by EU money. The monastery church was small, but beautifully decorated and lit with chandeliers. A chap was sweeping up, and one monk stood waiting hopefully for us to buy things. Not keen on religious artefacts so gave donation. We heard choir softly chanting, but not sure that it was real as there were small speakers around .
Beside the monastery was a very grand new building, looking like a very expensive priestly quarters?

As we came out, the heavens opened, made dash for the hotel terrace and sat through 30 minutes of thunderstorm and downpour before we could move. Took a look at the souvenir stalls, but again no really interesting stuff.
In the evening we went to the same resto as Tuesday as it was threatening more storms. The castle walls had lights glowing once it was dusk and the sunset looked great with stormy sky. However it was chef's off night, or maybe night off!

SATURDAY 5TH
Woken by small child at 6.45 looking for her room! Much muttering..... Took a run out to a monastery which B and the chaps saw on their trip. Since when there has been quite a lot of building renovation, though you will see from the pics that there is still plenty to do. The tower was looking splendid, again no rails on the stairs, so I opted out. There are only 3 monks living there now we think we were told! Met a Bulgarian outside who could speak English, he said he visits about once every 6 months. He pointed out the painting of the tree of life which he said was after a famous Bulgarian painter. Two ladies are doing all the painting of the building in the original style, obviously a lengthy and painstaking task. Having bought a couple of little items off the stall outside, we set off for the Roman town of Nikyup.

This town was started in AD 136 and was called Nicopolis Ad Istrum and researched by Nottingham University as a Late Roman City Project from 1995 to 2007. The current work is funded by grants from EU and there is lots going on there. The site is about 20km from Veliko Tarnovo and didn't take long to get there, I was all for going on the "alternative" road, but that was not well received, in the event the "proper" road made the Bolingey track look a doddle! We explored the site for quite a while, amazing the drainage system, the huge flags for the roads which are still there, quite daunting that nearly, very nearly 2000 years have gone by.


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Posted by Combes Caper 04:55 Archived in Bulgaria

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