In Plovdiv we couldn’t find a place to stay. Both hotels we’d checked out were full. We were heading to another, when an old lady stopped us in the street and said she had a spare room at her house. So, we stayed with her for 2 nights. Apparently, staying at people’s homes and paying them a small amount is fairly common in Bulgaria. I guess people need to supplement their incomes.
It was interesting to see the inside of her communist-era flat. It was quite big with a kitchen, and 4 other rooms, plus a bathroom and a small balcony. She didn’t have tons of stuff, it was quite simply decorated with some good, old fashioned, innovative repair jobs. Nice and cosy though.
From Plovdiv we’ve come to Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria from 1185 to 1393 (before the Ottomans invaded and ruled for 500 years). There’s a citadel on the hill overlooking the town from which the Bulgarian kings ruled. The town itself was quite old and quaint and so it was really nice to just wander around and relax.
Yesterday I had one of those days where I really wish I could speak another language. Usually I’m happy enough with hello, goodbye, please, thank you and excuse me. I wish I could say more but you can’t learn everything (well I can’t anyways). I can get by I guess but every now and then you meet a character who you really want to chat with but can’t.
We were on the train from Plovdiv to Veliko Tarnovo – towards the end – and an old man got into our carriage. He was weathered and wrinkly, but he looked happy and healthy and his eyes were twinkly. I’d say he worked on a farm but I couldn’t know for sure.
He started speaking to us and of course there was nothing that we could say back. He was good natured about it of course but he seemed like such a character, I reckon he would have been great for a chat. Instead we sat silently. Every now and then I’d look up and smile at him and he’d smile back. At one point he winked at me – not once, but three times. Right, left, right.
A group of four students got in a couple of stops later and the old man was making them laugh and vice versa. A woman came to check the tickets and the old man didn’t have one – but he seemed to get out of that problem pretty easily – possibly with a magic wink or two but certainly with no exchange of money. He got off one stop before us – a couple of the students in the carriage helped him up from his seat.