Boat Trip, Day Twelve

On the previous day’s bus ride, we listened to these 10-year old Bulgarians.  She won the European equivalent of “America’s Got Talent,” and the twin boy piano players ain’t too shabby either:


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[Uffda, I guess even in a Cyrillic country, S-E-X sells . . .]

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[But we were now beginning our second day in Bulgaria, docking in Rousse (population over 200,000) where all we saw were these dreadful Soviet-era apartments as we . . . ]

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[Bused out of town on an hour and a half trip to Veliko Tarnovo (a name that delightfully rolled off our guide’s tongue), the former capital and “City of the Tsars.”]

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[And what a neat place!  Built along and up the sides of an “S” curve in the Yantra River, a place with lots of topography.  Remember as George Carlin once said, you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater but feel free to yell . . . TOPOGRAPHY!  This is a destination town where Bulgarians vacation and where students love to go to college.]

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[The Super helps frame the Asenid Monument in city center.  The Asen Dynasty founded Bulgaria in the 12th century.  See, learning is good!]

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[I hope this city is earthquake proof . . . or it will all come tumbling down on each other.]

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[Our tea and crumpet hotel and a view from the bridge, as they say.]

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[Nice hotel promenade where we enjoyed our tea and crumpets.]

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[One of the two universities in the city.  This one has 18,000 students, which likely would place their basketball program in Division I.]

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[Of course I had to look it up.  Established in Munich in 1260 by Duke Ludwig the Severe. How could one not love such a place?  And they make “Hell.”  🙂  Oh, and we’re on the bus again heading a couple miles further up the hill to . . . ]

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[This gift shop in the village of Arbanassi, where we were gifted the following post cards along with a local perfume sample.  I have yet to try the perfume . . .]

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[I opted for the double “S” spelling from these cards (and our background material) as opposed to the single “S” spelling you will find on the internet.]

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[This was a museum across the street from the gift shop.  The Konstantsaliev house is among the largest of the richly decorated houses that have been preserved.  It dates from the 17th century.  At a later date Atanas Konstantsaliev purchased and restored the house, and it is known by his name to the present day.  In 1913, it was leveled by an earthquake (Editor’s note:  How did Veliko Tarnovo survive?).  After that it was again purchased and converted into a museum.  In 1958, an exhibit of artifacts from the 19th century was held in the house. (From “Bulgaria Travel”)]

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[These homes were built like fortresses to fend off looters and other marauders.  Families could remain inside for long periods of time, all sleeping on that one giant bed?]

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[Barred windows, well-stocked pantries, and first floors of stone (below) were the era’s equivalent to electronic security systems . . . the only thing lacking was access to social media and quality popcorn makers.]

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5-2-15-28 - Copy[The Nativity Church (the above two photos) was built in the 16th century to be unobtrusive and secure with no indication anything of value was inside.  Though it was rather large inside, the rooms were small so individual groups had to wait for the previous group to exit.  Our guide was excellent but no photos were allowed inside.  Still . . . ]

nativity1 nativity2 nativity3 nativity4[These, among many, were found on the internet (one even admitted using a cell phone to take pictures (against the rules!)).  But the place was amazing . . . like a floor-to-ceiling Sistine Chapel throughout.]

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[Sitting outside waiting to go in, this was going to be a “You Provide the Caption Contest.” But Bert walked away with the prize immediately with, “In the NBA playoffs, you need a strong bench!”]

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[Then it was time for lunch . . . and for the life of me I don’t recall whether we were still in Arbanassi or had gone back to Veliko Tarnovo?]

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[But always drink local, a nice Cabernet blend from the Gulbanis Winery in central Bulgaria.]

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[Again we were treated to folk dance and music.  I always thought the guys’ clothing looked really comfy and would have bought some if I could have found size “round.”  The gals’ attire also looked comfy but I wasn’t sure where I could wear that in Alex?]

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[I thought I had discovered the original “Touchdown Jesus.”  Then I found out it wasn’t even religious.  It was on the university campus, probably in homage to the guy who discovered iridium, or something.]

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[And from the 12th century we bring you Veliko Tarnovo Fortress highlighted by Tsarevets Castle at the top.  And some shots looking back into town.  We did not have time to visit these places . . . another reason to go back to Veliko Tarnovo?]

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[We were then loosed in the city.  While the girls shopped, the boys did . . . what boys will do (yup, outside at the “Summer Garden”).]

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[Ahhhhh, commerce!]

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[I left my heart, in Veliko Tarnovo . . . and it wasn’t even a pretty day?]

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[The last night on the boat, Reetz did the honor holding up the Farewell Dinner menu. Then we did the shortest port-to-port cruise in history as we crossed the Danube from the Bulgarian side to the Romanian side.  Next, a full day in Bucharest and the following day winging home.]

The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things.  ~  Jilly Cooper

Up next:  Romania, our last country.

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