Wet day in Plovdiv

(written by Dave)

It rained much of the day today, a nice day to be off the bikes.  Tomorrow’s forecast is not much better but we’ll deal with that when tomorrow comes.  Today we barely did anything worth reporting.  I guess that’s how it goes on a rainy day in Bulgaria.

Nancy mentioned in yesterday’s post that our hostel was nice.  She was right.  It was very quiet overnight.  And then this morning, the breakfast room was full of interesting fellow travelers.  We first met a couple from France.  They were speaking French (at least I recognized it) and they spoke very little English.  I tried to use what we learned in Nice and was bluffing my way through when Nancy joined in.  Between the two of us we told them about our trip and learned that they were from north of Paris – I think – our French has been sorely neglected, we are ashamed to say (must get the books out).

Next we met Tone and her daughter Christine.  They had just finished a 5 day horseback ride in the Bulgarian mountains and were quite interesting to speak with, along with another American couple from Atlanta who was also on their horseback trip.  Tone offered to show us around if we make it to Copenhagen, which we hope to do after we leave Sweden – heads up Tone – we may just take you up on the offer!

Our last breakfast conversation was with Enrique from Guatemala.  He is on a three-month motorcycle trip from Germany to Turkey.  He was in need of a Turkey guidebook so we gave him ours – we’d been carrying it for the last couple days in hopes of meeting travelers heading the other way who could use the book and he seemed like the perfect recipient for it.  Enrique had a guidebook that covered Bulgaria that we looked at for a bit and also extended an offer to visit him in Guatemala if we ever do the Pan-American cycle route (we would love to – except the Alaska part because Nancy fears bears [editor’s note – as anyone should]).  He is in Europe with his wife, who hails from Slovakia and is expecting their second child shortly.  Luckily enough, the Slovakian town where they are temporarily living may be right on our route north so we may have another chance to say hello on our way north.  He also mentioned that his Slovakian mother-in-law was a great cook – what better inducement does a cyclist need to make a stop!  Watch out Enrique, we may be hearing from us and we hope you have a great cycle trip.

We did our laundry using a machine in the hostel then finally made a run between showers outside to see a few of the sights.  We strolled old-town looking the old buildings and a few churches.  Most of the buildings were built in the early 1800s, so not so old based on what we’ve been seeing.  We eventually made our way to the Roman amphitheater.  We’ve seen lots of theaters on this trip but this one was interesting in that they have restored it and today they use it for performances.  The theater was built in about 100 AD and supposedly damaged in the 5th century AD by Attila the Hun.  It was abandoned later and somewhat forgotten.  The theater was only found in the early 1970s due to a landslide.  It has a nice position overlooking the city; though today, what you see mostly is grey, boxy Soviet styled apartment blocks.

It was trying to rain by this time so we headed for the shopping area in search of something to eat.  I am happy to report that today, the Turkish kebab shop that we found had falafels – woohoo.  Perhaps it was actually a Bulgarian kebab shop but we were not fussed.  We had a great falafel kebab and were pretty pleased.  I even managed to grab a photo before Nancy started to eat [editor’s note – Dave neglected to point out that he was starting to wolf his down when I told him he better take a picture this time.]

While sitting at our table a couple young Mormon missionary boys came up and sat next to us.  We got to talking with them and had a nice chat.  Michael was from Idaho and Robert was from Washington.  Michael was the senior one and clearly comfortable being away from home.  Robert was only two months into his gig and was visibly still in culture shock.  They get to skype home 2 times per year and can send email once a week.  Even if you don’t agree with their spiel, you have to admire the nerve they show going halfway round the world and virtually cutting off all contact with home, at the age of 20, no less.  For whatever reason, they didn’t bother proselytizing to us.  Perhaps they are trained to leave it alone when they hear certain signs.  All four of us hung out longer than we would have otherwise, as it was raining pretty hard.  I jokingly asked them if they had already picked their candidate in the US election (for those non-American or politically uninterested readers, the leading Republican candidate is a Mormon) and Michael surprisingly said he was an Obama supporter, so you just never know.

Eventually the rain let up and we headed off to look at the mosque just around the corner.  We were greeted there by a very unofficial looking guy who tried to get us to give him money before we headed inside.  Having been in many mosques where this did not happen, we just put our shoes back on and headed out.  The mosque was not that big and the inside was not lit so there was no point in going inside, especially with a scammer asking for “donations.”

We stopped at a book store and picked up a more detailed Macedonia map and that was it, it had started to rain again, so we headed for the hostel.  We are now making plans for the week ahead and watching Giro (Tour of Italy bicycle race) live on TV.  I’m trying to type the blog but my legs keep twitching, it is an exciting stage.

Tomorrow, if it is not raining, we head to Velingrad.  The first 45k is flat, then we head into the mountains.  We can make a short day of it somewhere before the mountains if the weather turns on us.  We don’t really know how much the mountains go up, but our horseback riding friends this morning reported that they could see snow only on the tops of the mountains.  Hope that we don’t need the winter coats that we mailed home from Istanbul…

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6 thoughts on “Wet day in Plovdiv

  1. I really really like your room. Big, well lit, nice floors, looks like comfy chairs. Nice but not in Nice.

    I wish I could get my neighbor to stop proselytizing. He’s known us for years and we’ve been clear it’s not our thing but he just keeps on. I see it as nagging. It’s fine to let someone know how you feel/think/believe but if you keep on, it’s just nagging.

  2. Who new Plovdiv was so touristy. I’m looking forward to pics of the mountains ahead. Hope the grade isn’t too steep! We are having a bit of rain and snow here which is good since it helped put out a big fire at Topaz Lake area. It sounds like your australian friend will be riding by us since we won’t make a long enough day of riding for him…darn…

    • No mountains yet – we road short today, sneaking up on those hills. Sorry to hear that about Dennis. I was looking forward to you meeting him, as we never have! His blog is good.


  3. You are meeting lots of peope to then visit later on! I, too, hope you don’t run into snow! The jackets are here and packed away! We had huge thunderstorm last night which split several trees in Vancouver & Aloha, and then pouring rain.
    Enjoy your day in Plovdiv!

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