Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pretty Plovdiv

Yesterday I got the 10:35 AM train from Sofia to Plovdiv, with arrival in Plovdiv 1:23 PM.  I found the platform.  I looked for the train to Varna, because that is the ultimate destination of that train.  The train was sitting there covered with ice.  I found a compartment with only two other people in it and sat there.  The departure time came and went.  After about half an hour I began to wonder whether I might have gotten on the wrong train.  I was able to ask the lady sitting across from me by showing her my ticket, and she was able to communicate to me that I was on the right train.  The train finally started moving almost an hour late, and, to my great relief, in what I believed was the right direction.

All of the escalators at Sofia station area in an advanced state of decay.

The train to Varna (via Plovdiv).

Sofia to Varna

The ice covered train.

Another passenger joined out compartment at the first stop, which was in the suburbs of Sofia.  All of the people in the compartment except for me were having a vigorous discussion, I think about politics.  That's about all I was able to pick up from it.  After several stops (in some very grim towns full of abandoned looking factories) I started to worry that I might miss Plovdiv because the stations in Bulgaria are not well marked.  I kept going to the window and looking out, trying to see the station name, whenever the train stopped.  I got some help from my fellow travelers.  One spoke a tiny bit of English and he told me when we were approaching Plovdiv.

I had heard that Plovdiv is a really beautiful city.  When I saw the area around the station, I began to wonder about that.  It was dirty with trashy looking stores, and no place to eat that looked like it might have edible food (I was very hungry by this point - it was after 2PM and I had not eaten all day).  There was also the inevitable betting shop / gambling place which seemed busy.  I bought some sort of thing that looked like bread with slices of bologna baked into it for 1.40 leva (about 70 Euro cents).

The area in front of the station.

The inevitable gambling shop.

Simit stand.

The street my place is on.

I managed to find the place where I was staying with no problem.  It's more of a B&B than a home.  Since I was by myself, they gave me a discount and I only ended up paying 40 leva (about 20 Euros) for the night.  Everything is pretty cheap in Bulgaria.  After checking in I went back to the station and bought my onward ticket to Istanbul, leaving tonight.  That was 50 leva (about 25 euros).  Since entering Slovenia all of my transportation has been very cheap.

This morning I checked out of the hotel and explored the old town part of Plovdiv.  Now I can see why Plovdiv is considered a beautiful city.  There is a Roman amphitheater up on top of one of the hills.  I went to the musty old ethnographic museum which, according to the sign in front, was completely renovated in 1962 (and that was the last renovation I believe).  I had a good time walking around the streets of the old area, but it was cold.  My train does not leave until almost 10 PM tonight - I may go back to where I stayed last night and see if I can sit in their common area for a while.

Orthodox church

Old houses

The mosque

Old house

Part of the amphitheater.

The ethnographic museum.

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