Bulgaria        2015, July

July, 14th Tuesday, Málaga-Sofia

Take off from Malaga airport at 19:30. Only seven minutes late. The plane was smaller than usual: only two rows of seats at each side. The trip was very short for I was distracted with my mobile phone translating and playing. My two princesses the big one and the small one were waiting for me in.

July, 15th Wednesday, Sofía

After being picked up from the airport by my two princesses and one friend of us from Sofia (Stephan) with his car, we spent the night at the hotel Rila as in previous visits. It was a good hotel, centric as well. The views to Aleksander Nevsky and the Ivan Vazov theater were unbeatable this time. We went for a walk around the center of Sofia in the morning. We visited the "Rotonda church", Aleksander Nevsky and some ancient subterranean ruins. Later on we met with a friend of Mariana, Petar, with who we had lunch in a centric restaurant of Sofia called "Lavanda". Marta didn't eat much so we had to buy a piece of pizza for her which she ate on the street. Following this walk, we reached the national theater Ivan Vazov. There's a nice cafe in front of it where we enjoyed a "mojito" on some wide and comfortable chairs. We returned to the hotel to rest for a while, and then we went to an opera-theatre spectacle child-focused where Marta spent a wonderful time. After that we met a couple friend ours with who we had dinner in a centric and attractive Italian restaurant. Then we returned to the hotel.

Rotonda church, in the centre of Sofía,close to the presidential building

Family picture; Ivan Vazov National theater at the background

July, 16th Thursday, Sofia-Yambol

We woke up that day still in Sofia, but with intention to leave to Yambol al 15:30. We did the check out at the hotel and we strolled the city centre before meeting Petar again. We saw the Public Baths and Tsum, a commercial center that exists from the comunism era, just to make time to meet our friend. We met finally and we decided to visit the Dragalevtsi monastery in the outskirts of Sofia. In our way to this monastery we changed our mind and we made to a commercial center called "Paradise". Nothing remarkable in this place, every commercial center in every big city are very similar. It's a must to say that I ate an exquisite turquish food: bulgur, chicken wings kebabs and baked courgettes with yoghourt. All this was irrigated with a "Becks". Time was not on our side here. We had booked three bus tickets to go to Yambol at 15:30. It was 15:10 and we were in a traffic jam in our friend Petar 's car. We got down the car and luckily we found an underground station four stops far from our bus station. We were there at 15:25, just in time to get the bus. We reached Yambol three hours and fifteen minutes later. We had virtually crossed Bulgaria from West to East in this bus.

Turquish baths, Sofia

Mall Paradise, Sofía

July, 17th Friday, Yambol

The sun rised in Yambol at 05:00 AM. We had breakfast at 09:30 and at about 10:00 A.M. we were strolling the center of the city. We bought a couple of things and we met Antonia, Mariana's cousin, when we were returning home. We sat in a cafe with her and after 15 minutes her husband joined us. In the afternoon that same day we joined a friend of Mariana, Maya. She took us to a fairly new museum, Museum of battle glory. There was a lot of information about the role of Bulgaria in the Second World War. Planes, tanks, rifles, machineguns, handguns, mortars... everything preserved in a very acceptable conditions. Afterwards we went to have dinner with a couple friend of ours. Nice evening event.

Museum of battle glory, Yambol

July, 18th Saturday, Yambol-Ustrem

We decided to go to the village where Mariana's grandfather lived the following morning. It was a house with a big terrain. Ustrem, the village we are talking about was about one hour far by car. We met there with the aunt of Mariana, her cousin, wife and sons. We made a picnic in a place at about five minutes by car from Ustrem, by the Sveta Troitsa monastery, a hidden place from all kind of civilisation. We spent the afternoon there and when dusk was close we returned to the village to sleep. Absolute silence at night, only interrupted by any farm animal from the neighbours' house or any lonely jackal in the country.

Sveta Troitsa Monastery, Ustrem

July, 19th Sunday, Ustrem-Yambol

The sun rised in Ustrem, as usual earlier than in Spain. It was 05:00 A.M. and the sun slowly appeared. The others were waking up too. Mariana's cousin, his wife and sons (Ivan, Nelly, Ioan and Victor) had to drive to Varna, so they packed their luggage and left before us. We without hurrying up, packed our things including some farm products and returned to Yambol; we stopped in another village in our way back to visit an old lady close friend of Mariana's family. The village we are talking about is called Dobroselets of about 800 inhabitants. At about 14:00 we were in Yambol again. We had lunch and then we took a siesta after the couple of hours it took us to reach home. We took a shower and then we had a familiar dinner in Nashentsi, as we have done in previous years. We were preparing ourselves to drive several hundreds kilometers to Veliko Turnovo with the car we used to rent those previous years to a guy who used it as a taxi: a Ford Focus combi.

At our friend's in Dobroselets

Marta, Antonia and Deni, at Nashentsi's, familiar dinner

July, 20th Monday, Yambol-Merdanya

We left early in the morning, at about 10:15 A.M. to Merdanya. The owner of the Ford Focus was half an hour late. It was the same car we rented the year before. You could be sure that it was the best car you could find for that price.

The way was easy more or less. We reached our destination after two hours and fifteen minutes. A detached house with swimming-pool, terrain and all kind of amenities, overall to prepare your own food, like BBQ's etc. We intended to meet my brother in law, his wife and doughter in this place where we were staying for some days. When we unpacked our luggage, the swimming-pool was waiting for the whole family. A mountain bike and a tandem ideal to cycle around the village were at our disposal. After the swimming-pool we made the BBQ we brought from Yambol.

The chalet we rented in Merdanya (village close to Veliko Túrnovo)

July, 21st Tuesday, Merdanya

It was a transition day. We spent the day in our chalet, using the swimming-pool, making BBQ's and swimming-pool again. We decided to visit the monastery of the village at noon, before lunch; though its aspect was not a disaster, we had visited more cared monasteries. We intended to go to Veliko Turnovo in the afternoon, but Marta was a bit upset and we decided to leave it for the day after. The swimming-pool has been or savior.

Swimming-pool at our rented chalet

July, 22nd Wednesday, Merdanya-Veliko Túrnovo

Marta seemed to improve, everything pointed to a summer sore throat. We decided to visit a monastery close to Veliko Turnovo, the Preobrazhenski Monastery (or transfiguration) after breakfast. When we reached there we saw a car with a Spanish registration number. A couple addressed to us in Spanish as they were leaving the monastery, asking us whether we were Spaniards for they had heard us speaking. So we started a conversation. He turned out to be the famous journalist, war correspondent and photographer working for "La Cadena ser" and "La Vanguardia" among other media, "Gervasio Sanchez", who reported about the Kosovo conflict among others. Interesting and nice encounter. Later on we returned to Veliko Turnovo to visit a quite significant church for the Bulgarian history. We are speaking about the "Holy Church of the forty Martyrs", where the rests of numerous leaders, kings and tsars of the Bulgarian History are located. We made to our chalet again from there, where we had lunch.

The afternoon started with a siesta followed by our usual swimming-pool time. And finished at the terrace having dinner. A very tough life...

We had to leave that marvellous place the day after to go to another one not less attractive. This new place was called Arbanasi and it was very close to the old capital of Bulgaria previously named in some occasions: Veliko Turnovo. Leka nosht (лека нощ)

Preobrazhenski Monastery

Holy Church of the forty Martyrs

July, 23rd Thursday Merdanya-Veliko Túrnovo-Arbanasi

The sun rised in Merdanya; we had to leave the chalet that very morning. We had to go before it got hotter, the way was short though, about twenty kilometers and high temperatures were guaranteed. Our new destination was Arbanasi. That was our second visit to this historical and attractive village very close to Veliko Turnovo. We arrived at an apartment complex with big gardens and abundant grove where you could eat and drink on wooden tables; the place was called Arbanasnki Xan. The rooms were cared for to the minimum detail.

We had lunch at the hotel, we took a rest and we made to Veliko Turnovo. We found a park in the city centre where a folk music festival from different countries was held. EEUU, Japan, Brasil, South Corea among others had their representation in an interesting evening. It was getting late in our return and we bought a couple of pizzas to eat at the hotel.

Arbanashki Xan

International Folk Festival in Veliko Turnovo (Country: Brazil)

July, 24th Friday, Merdanya-Veliko Túrnovo

We drove again to Veliko Turnovo after breakfast. The temperature was increasing and the visit to the fortress of the city turned out to be a bit tiresome, but it was worth it. The monument was called Tsarevets, located on a hill it was visible from nearly all around the city. It had some medieval walls that enclosed two buildings at the top of the hill. These two buildings were the Palace and the Patriarch Church. We returned to the hotel to have lunch and after a siesta, we drove back to the city; we saw the second part of the folk festival dedicated only to Bulgaria that time. Beautiful spectacle. We had dinner at the same pizza restaurant we bought the pizza from the previous day when ít was over. It was crowded unlike the night before. If my memory does not fail the place was called "Ego".

International Folk Festival in Veliko Turnovo (Country: Bulgaria)

July, 25th Saturday, Yambol-Belashtitsa

After a couple of hours driving we returned to Yambol but first we had breakfast and we saw off my brother in law and family. The trip had been acceptable bearing in mind the conditions of the Bulgarian roads. We made a stop to see the Kilifarevo Monastery for about twenty minutes.

We crossed perpendicularly from North to South a group of mountains that go through Bulgaria from West to East with its pertinent mountain pass. At about 14:30 we made to Plovdiv. Once in Plovdiv we searched for Belashtitsa a small village where our friends Bilana, Ivan and their two children as old as Marta were waiting for us. After receiving us at their home we went directly to the hotel where we were going to sleep that night: Eko hotel Zdravets. After a copious dinner we finished in bed at about 23:30 Iocal time.

Eko Hotel Zdravets

July, 26th Sunday, Belashtitsa-Yambol

After waking up we had breakfast at the hotel for it was included in the price. It was an abundant breakfast. Before checking out we had a drink under the shadow of a pine-tree on some tables at the back of the hotel. Once we finished we drove back to Yambol. After a couple of hours we were home again. We rested for a while and we met another couple friend of the family and their two children, Tania and Stanimir. The following day was our last day in Yambol for that year.

Marta and me at a cafe in the centre of Yambol

July, 27th Monday, Yambol-Sofía-Algeciras

That was our last day in Yambol. We changed some money because we were running out of cash. We drove through the gipsy district of Yambol since watching such a special place of the city resulted very interesting to me. Basically that Monday was a transition day and we had to make the most of it staying with the family. The following day promised to be very long, trips, farewells... Three and a half hours by bus and the same time by plane were waiting for us. And after landing in Malaga another hour and a half by car.

We had lunch and we drove fifteen kilometers from Yambol after our siesta to a monument called Bakadzhik which radiates comunism the whole of it. There was a kind of inn, "Yambolen Complex" where I never saw anyone staying at. We use to have a drink in the evening at this place, and so we did. We finished our luggage and we were ready to fly back to Spain the day after.

Yambolen Complex