Today I travelled from Stara Zagora to Sofia in Bulgaria. We (me and my husband Mark) had been to Plovdiv for a day trip and then to Stara Zagora where I had a meeting as part of my fieldwork on Tuesday. We took the bus to make our journey, these have been big hot coaches, small freezing mini coaches with euro pop radio to today’s mini bus here is what occurred to me in between finishing The Golden Notebook– which is amazing by the way.
When everyone boards the bus everyone sits still, up straight, tense almost, little noise or eye contact. As the journey goes on the bus warms up and everyone melts a bit, relax into seats, conversation with strangers, music or books. The men sat across the aisle from each other, legs spread out hands to hips, their bodies touch as they laugh and…
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Stara Zagora has a great second hand clothes shop called garderobe mostly stocked with British clothes, my wife and I quite like a rummage through a vintage shop. The clothes are great value and mostly in good order. Among the items we purchased were an over coat and wooly jumper for me. My wife got a jumper and some T-shirts as well as a scarf. We have been in a few second hand shops during our time in Bulgaria as we packed sparingly for our trip.
For my final day in Varna I Visited the Maritime Museum, which was a cheap and informative experience, even if it did gloss over the slightly dubious parts of it history around the first and second world wars. I’m not going to expand on that though as it’s not what my blog is about. It is a cheap way to spend an hour or so, the entry price is 5leva around GB£2.20 and there are some interesting things inside and out to look at. I didn’t spend too much time taking photos as I wasn’t hugely inspired by the displays outside and inside photography was not permitted. there are photos and more information on the link above if you want to get a better idea of what there is to see there. the only criticism I would give is that there is little of any interest to children or to people who don’t like display cases filled with various medals, uniforms, weaponry, scale models and pieces of ships and boats. This isn’t a problem if you like that sort of museum, which I do. I once spent over an hour looking in detail at a display of 20 various aerospace engines where they showed how they had evolved and developed from piston engines to modern jet engines.
After the museum I went to find something to eat. Varna has quite a few restaurant chains which are fine but they are over priced and the food it pretty standard wherever you go. I had spotted a canteen style restaurant on the high street the previous day and it looked busy, which is always a good sign in my opinion. Having travelled a bit the rule of thumb I like to observe is if its busy with locals it must be OK. I wasn’t disappointed either. there was a selection of dishes on offer. 3 soups , Chicken, Vegetable and one with Pork which I chose as Bulgarian pork is very good as I have discovered during my stay here. There were several main dishes to choose from. there was a chicken in a creamy sauce, breaded squid, bratwurst sausages all accompanied by dill potatoes, fried potatoes or rice and lamb with mushroom rice which I opted for. i also had a dark Kamenitza beer which is my favourite beer out here. My choices came to a total of 10.75leva GB£5.50 ish. the food was brilliant and the server at the counter even put up with my awful Bulgarian when I was ordering (there was a lot of me pointing and saying please).
After my meal I went for a wander and purchased a book to read as I had a couple of hours to kill before my wife and I were scheduled to fly back to Sofia. I chose A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, having seen the film i thought it would be nice to compare the two. i was lucky the book shop i found had a fair selection of English language books to choose from. Many classics and the entire Harry potter series, J. R. R. Tolkien and Fifty shades of Grey to name a few. There was also the Complete works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I tried to read some of this before and found it very hard work. Still i’m pleased with my choice, it’s a great book and even without seeing the film it conjurers up vivid mental images, which is a little uncomfortable at times. I sat in a café for two hours reading and drinking Café Latte (i didnt have any Drencrom, Velocet or Synthmesc in my milk plus coffee)
So onwards to Varna international airport. On arrival at the airport we discovered our flight was the only outbound flight for the evening which was pretty crazy. everyone was very chilled out and as passengers gradually arrived it meant there was never a delay for anything. the 35 minute flight was smooth and the Bulgarian air staff were great. we touched down at Sofia in the snow and were out the airport and in a taxi within 10 minutes. We always use O.K. Taxi’s at the airport as they are honest. there are lots of scam artists at the airport waiting to separate unsuspecting tourists and business people from their cash. As per usual there was a taxi tout trying to get our trade as soon as we stepped into the arrivals hall. we ignored him and walked straight to the proper taxi rank.