Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend in Plovdiv

After work on Friday we took a taxi to the Central Bus Station, where we caught the 4 o'clock bus to Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second biggest city. The ride was quite beautiful. We could see snow-capped mountains to the south and everything was very green.

When we arrived in Plovdiv we made our first, and only mistake with a Bulgarian taxi ride. We took the first taxi we saw, and although the driver chatted with us about how good Israel was, his meter was screwed up and the price climbed quickly, although we only drove a short distance. Next time we'll be more careful selecting a taxi.

We stayed at the Imperial Hotel, which was about 10 minutes outside the city center. The hotel was just fine, with a comfortable room and good buffet breakfasts, but water leaked from the bath tub every time we took a shower.

On Friday night we walked to a restaurant not far from the hotel, where we were just able to make our request for chicken dinners understood by the waitress.

On Saturday morning we took a quick taxi ride to Ploshtad Dzhumaya, next to Plovdiv's big mosque. From there we began our exploration of the Old Town. The Old Town has many homes from the 1880s which have been carefully restored, and many of them now serve as museums and art galleries.


We walked up the cobblestone streets, going into one house after the other. There were many souvenir shops as well.




At the top of the hill we ate grilled trout for lunch. The Nebe Tebet citadel is nothing more than a bunch of rocks, but there was a beautiful view over the city of Plovdiv.

Some of the more remarkable houses we visited included the Balabanov House and the Zlatyo Boyadzhiev Museum. The most beautiful house in the Old Town has now become the Ethnographic Museum.



After we made our way down from the Old Town, we strolled along the pedestrian mall of modern Plovdiv and had some very good ice cream. We went back to the hotel to rest.

Afterwards we were reading in the hotel gardens when a wedding party arrived. We didn't understand why all the guests came bearing bouquets of flowers. The bride and groom came along, and the photographers set to work capturing their images in the park. We couldn't help but notice that the bride must have been in her 6th or 7th month of pregnancy.

On Saturday night we returned to modern Plovdiv for a very good dinner. The restaurant we selected by chance was called Hemingway, and we just managed to get a table, as it seemed quite popular among the locals. I had a spinach soup followed by lamp chops over two types of rice, while Jodie started with grilled vegetables and then had salmon with beets and asparagus. It was an excellent meal!

On Sunday morning we visited the major site of Plovdiv's ancient past - the Roman ampitheater. The setting was beautiful, and it was surprising that there were hardly any other tourists at such a remarkable site.



Our visit to Plovdiv came to an end, and we headed to the bus station for the journey home.

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