Boat Trip, Day Eleven

Bulgaria

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[We landed in Vidin and immediately began a one hour bus trip to Belogradchik.  Yes, we’re in Bulgaria now, where the Cyrillic alphabet was invented.  Remember that for your next trivia contest.  My Latin name is spelled “Tom Obert,” my Cyrillic name is spelled “Tom Obept.” See, it’s not so hard! Then our last day is in Bucharest, where Romania is the only country on our trip with a Romance, rather than Slavic, language.  Bulgaria and Romania both joined the European Union in 2007, so we didn’t have to do the passport thing but the Euro is not yet in effect as the currency in either country,]

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[And there’s our ultimate morning destination – the Belogradchik Fortress.]

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[No, not a ship porthole.  We are in a Belogradchik 5-star hotel where we stopped for tea and crumpets and other things.]

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[Out on the hotel’s back porch, I thought we were back in Zion?]

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[Remember me?  I want to go to the Baltic next, or the Galapagos, or . . . ]

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[Yup, Zion-like.]

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[It was a 5-star hotel . . . I counted them!]

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[Some terrific vistas with snow-capped mountains.]

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[How could I not?]

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[Bill takes a one-handed parting shot.]

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[Leaving downtown Belogradchik and the hotel . . . ]

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[We advance on the Fortress . . . ]

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[Necessary information . . . ]

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[Still outside the walls . . . ]

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[The door is open . . . ]

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[The ultimate destination . . . ]

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[And we’re in!  An ancient fortress in the Balkan Mountains dating back to the Roman Empire.]

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[We’re going up there . . . to some degree.  The Super (and Karen and Bill) did all 200 steps to the top of the rocks – I went halfway and decided it was too hot to go further. The two rocks on the left are Adam and Eve with the First Kiss. ]

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[The view of the town from the base of the Fortress.]

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[The pre-ascent mingling, deciding how far do we want to go?]

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[Bill, on the left, appears to be checking wind direction before the climb.  Some are on the way up.]

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[We have begun!]

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[At the halfway point, 100 steps up, Karen stops for a photo op.]

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[A bit of a rest and recovery area before the next assault . . . ]

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[Nice views from right here, says I.]

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[Bill and the Super move on to the summit!]

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[The Supervisor took these photos from the top.  All hail the Supervisor!]

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[What was that?  Something about “all hail the Supervisor?”]

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[Time to head back down . . . ]

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[It’s this way!]

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[Anne and Bert, being of saner minds, explored the other side of the Fortress while we were playing mountain goat.]

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[Oh, now I understand.]

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[Leaving the Fortress.]

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[This may be Belogradchik . . . it may be Vidin.  I don’t remember anymore but we were on the bus on the way back to the boat.]

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[Definitely Vidin . . . ]

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[And definitely the boat for lunch.  You may have noticed Kathy and Reetz weren’t with us at the Fortress.  They opted for a home hosted cooking demonstration.  The above is what they made and brought back to the boat for all to share.  Yummy!]

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[After lunch, we did a walking tour of our port, Vidin (pop. 80,000), an ancient city that is allegedly the poorest in the EU.  This was in a lovely Danube riverside park, but it does not receive any maintenance (by our Western standards). The further we go into the old Iron Curtain countries, the more we see the struggles to develop economically. Lots of abandoned buildings or buildings, such as the synagogue (five photos below) , where there is no money for restoration. The unemployment rate in Bulgaria is 25 per cent.]

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[Well, now you know Cyrillic!]

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[Mother of Bulgaria monument]

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[Soviet-era worker statues?]

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[Park and synagogue in bad states of disrepair.]

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[A lovely statue that was falling apart in the back.]

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[Bada Vida Fortress.  Neat name, and love ‘working’ days and ‘resting’ days.]

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[And then I almost got stuck in a tiny, spiral stairway getting to the top.]

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[I think you can guess what this room was used for?]

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[Back to the boat for happy hour and folk dancing!]

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[Again, bon apetit!]

Only one more day on the boat, an evening in Bucharest, and home (our Eastern contingent will spend 4 more days in Transylvania after this . . . Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, et al).

Old age is not a battle.  Old age is a massacre.  ~  Philip Roth

Up next:  Gopher coaches?

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