BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV

BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
BULGARIA 2016 // PLOVDIV
Aside from Sofia and a dilapidated Communist building in the middle of nowhere, we really didn't know where else to go in Bulgaria after hunkering down in Istanbul for 1 week. So we sent out a 'plea' for recs via Instagram. There were quite an overwhelming preference for Romania, not so much love for Bulgaria. But ONE Instagrammer did pull through and his name is Henry (@humminglion). Not only did we lucked out, I mean, we really hit the jackpot with this guy, because his girlfriend (@zorymory) happens to be Bulgarian! And one from Plovdiv! A city we've tentatively contemplated about (seems many travelers prefer Plovdiv over Sofia), but weren't quite sold until Henry and Zory came into the picture.

So with Zory's extensive list of her hometown's recs, V and I set out to explore tiny Plovdiv, the future European Capital of Culture 2019 and one of the world's oldest cities. Plovdiv has a lot to offer, it's sights easily covered in 2 days time. A mixture of ancient Greek ruins and quaint medieval masonry, with remnants of Communism mostly seen outside the touristy parts. There's a beautiful huge expanse of park goodness, 6 famous hills to climb, a long strip of very modern shops set below very old buildings that looks like a century or 2 old, and an even older part of town covered with very wonky cobblestones. There you can stumble upon many historic markers and catch a panoramic view of the city from one of the famed hills.

Most of which can be covered with a walking tour. Highly recommend, though. It's always a good idea to catch one of these. A quick history/info rundown ain't hurt nobody. In fact, we try to go to one in almost every city we visit. Half the time we end up befriending fellow tourists along the way, grabbing dinner and/or drinks afterwards. In this case, that just so very happened. And we had the best time with our new friends! 1 Belgium guy, 2 English girls, 1 Turkish dude. We all happily chatted it up over Bulgarian cuisine, trading travel stories. Lots of jokes, lots of laughs. Even properly ended the very long dinner hangout over Rakia. Nazdrave!

Coming into Bulgaria not expecting much, I must say, Plovdiv was a nice surprise!

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When: May 2016
Temp: 70-80F
Stay: Best Rest Guesthouse. 45BGN for private room, 20BGN/person for 4 bed dorm.

Recommend: 2 hour Free Walking Tour
If you have 15 minutes: 3D Movie of Plovdiv in 2nd Century AD
Eats: Grazhdanski Klubb

***** AS RECOMMENDED BY ZORY *****
- Plovdiv Roman Theatre
- Contemporary Art Center
- Old Town. The old town is pretty much the star of Plovdiv. They are some churches and museums within the Old Town that are worth checking out if you are interested in how things used to be: Ethnographic museum, St. Constantine and Elena church.
- Kapana. Known for small shops and coffee shops. Young people like to hangout in the area.
- Tsar Simeon Gardens. Small park where locals like to sit and people watch.
- Alyosha Monument on Bunarjik Hill. The statue is interesting because it represents the way communist people used to do things - big with lots of concrete. The hill has 360 view of all of Plovdiv and it's popular destination for high-school kids the go watch the sunrise after prom.
- The Dzhumaya Mosque. There is a little cafe/sweets shop in the Mosque building. They have really good Turkish tea and sweets.
- Art News Cafe is one of my fav cafes, artsy people hangout there, the bartenders are usually up to date on interesting things that are happening around the city, ask them! Get the Mursalski Tea, it's a rare tea that grows very high up in the mountains near Plovdiv.
- Apartment 101. Popular bar. Sometimes it has live music.
- Vitex 90. Get Zelevi Sarmi (traditional fermented cabbage leaves + rice dish) , Kiselo Zele S Bob (also very traditional and they make it well, it's fermented cabbage with beans) and Salata Spanak (spinach salad) . For dessert: Mliako S Oriz (milk rice pudding). They sell the food by the Kilo so that makes it great for you to try many things.
- Popular day trips that you can do with buses out of Plovdiv are: Bachkovo Monastery (similar but smaller than Rilla Monastery), Asen Fortress, Seven Rila Lakes, The Wonderful Bridges, Koprivshtitsa, Veliko Turnovo, Arbanassi.


-jin-