We finally left Istanbul, Turkey after a great 6-week stay, and headed to Bulgaria in what seemed to be hours and hours of driving on the Turkish side in the rain.
For the first time ever we had smiled at a border crossing. I nearly fell out of the car. Firstly the Turkish side checks the passports and obviously, the driver’s name pops up on a screen. The next two passport and document checks I am addressed by name with a smile. Then that is it. So much for checking car documents. Nothing.
We then head to the Bulgarian side and go through a mini car wash /spray. This apparently is a disinfectant for the car and cost me three Euros. We then have another smiley man who checks the passports. A man then appears (one of five in the group waiting) to give me the autobahn pass – another five Euros).
Next stop is a car search – the first in all our travels. She digs and probes and gives up. All clear. Then we have a document check for the car and we are waved through – with another smile.
I feel like I am going to like Bulgaria.
When we get to Plovdiv, we can’t find the street that leads to the Old City. A stranger gets in his car and whips us around the back streets and takes us to where we want to go. With a smile and a wave, and “Welcome to Plovdiv”, he is off.
We enter inside and on a board is our names welcoming us, and the Australian flag hanging – that makes us feel so special.
We are here. We have arrived at our boutique Guesthouse. It is an Old Plovdiv Guesthouse and it is a 19th Century Renaissance Mansion.
Our host is there outside to meet us and comes and helps us with the bags.
Once inside I get a lovely welcome cup of Bulgarian Herbal Tea with honey.
Our room is full of antique and eclectic items – an old suitcase and vintage iron beds.
Dried bunches of Lavender rest on our white fluffy pillows, and the soft quilts are just so inviting.
They have pre-heated the room for us too. Little touches that made us feel great.
That night I get a migraine and am sick all night and the next day. But the staff at Old Plovdiv Guesthouse were so lovely. They made sure Explorason had a hearty breakfast downstairs and brought plates of food for him, and herbal teas and pain relief for me. I was ill for 36 hours, so it was just lovely to know we were somewhere we felt cared for.
Finally, I am well enough to head out, and the sky is blue, and the air is crisp. The church at the end of this street has pretty bells that ring. A pleasant change to the wailing mosques of Turkey.
There are so many beautiful buildings and museums to see in the area.
Most are either free or between 1 – 3 BL to enter.
We enjoy exploring the old city, and pop in and out of the many traditional stores, and antique markets and shops.
It is a fairly small old city, and easy to walk around, but the large old stone roads, are a bit of a killer on the ankles, so make sure you have comfortable shoes, and leave the high heels behind for this section of Plovdiv.
We enjoyed this mural. It shows how Bulgaria really has a blend of history. How on one side you have the Turkish influence, and on the other is the Romans and Greeks. Mixed in the center are the other nearby cultures. I was so surprised at the old Turkish mosque in the town center, and also the Turkish influence around.
We head into the main shopping street of modern Plovdiv – which is linked to the old Plovdiv. Here there is a Christmas market on with small wooden huts. They are selling Christmas decorations, food and drink, and Santa is there talking to the kids.
I end up buying a pair of boots for the snow, as we hope to find some soon. I see them for 80BL and then find them on sale for 29BL, so I am happy.
I’m really impressed by how much cheaper Bulgaria is compared to Turkey. I’d say about 1/3 cheaper at least.
That night we go back to the modern mall, and everyone is out in the cold for a stroll. We love the lit up trees, and all the lights. It is a pretty town, and we are so glad we stayed here.
I’m so grateful too to the Old Plovdiv Guest House for having us to stay, and taking such good care of us when I was sick.
Accommodation Name: Old Plovdiv Guest House
Location: ulitsa “Chetvarti yanuari” 3, 4000 Plovdiv
Date stayed: December 2014
Bar: Basic alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available.
Kitchen: Not for guests. Microwave and coffee/tea etc is available in the downstairs dining room for guests.
Wi-fi: Yes in our room
HELP WITH OUR RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS AS YOU SHOP FOR CHRISTMAS.
The Artful Tree has kindly contacted us and wants to donate 25% of any sale to help with our random acts of kindness.
Quote “ExplorasonFund” when you place your order.
We thank them and take a look at their beautifully made products.