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Veliko Tarnovo's Big Surpise

sunny 15 °C

In view of some recent disturbing developments you might be looking for somewhere well off the radar to hunker down for awhile, and northern Bulgaria might be just the place for you. This is the scenic mountain city of Veliko Tarnovo not far from the Romanian border...
Wages are poor by European standards but the resultant cost of living is low. Houses can be bought for less than 10,000 euros with fully furnished villas going for less than 70 grand, ($100,000.Cdn). Retired north Europeans can snap up a bargain here and live well on an Old Age Pension. It is true that Bulgarian is not the easiest of languages, but most of the youngsters speak some English and almost everything in the shops and on restaurant menus is as British as Fish & Chips. This is a clip of menu from Hadji Nikoli Inn – a Venetian style palace built in 1856 that is now a great restaurant...
Veliko Tarnovo, the ancient capital of Bulgaria, is not the easiest place to get to, but we took a very comfortable 3 hour minibus ride from Plovdiv for just ten Euros (15 dollars). Although the highway was busy with the latest models of trucks and cars we saw occasional glimpses of a recent past when we zipped past horse-drawn wagons laden with vegetables heading to the markets. The leeks are truly enormous - so long you can buy them by the foot..
However, in general, city dwelling Bulgarians are bang up to date and wouldn't look or be out of place in Vancouver or London. But we're not here to see smart modern apartment blocks, multi-lane highways and teens in jeans. We are here to see history – and there is plenty of it...
This is the 900 year old castle of Tsarevets which is too big to get into one photo – so here's another...
The cathedral like monument replaced the original great cathedral which was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks in 1393...
Velika Tarnovo and its castle of Tsarevets was one of Europe's cultural strongholds after the decline of the Byzantines, but its history goes back nearly five thousand years. The city lies at a crossroads between Europe and Asia with Turkey and Ukraine on one side, Greece to the south and Hungary on the other. Bulgaria has been conquered many times and signs of previous civilizations are everywhere. The fortress in Velika Tarnovo contains old tombstones taken from Roman graves that were already a thousand years old when these walls were built...
Despite thousands of years of conflicts and 50 years of communist rule Bulgaria has a lot to offer. Most tourists head to the ritzy all-inclusives that line the black sea shores, but we prefer the real thing – Veliko Tarnovo.

Posted by Hawkson 11:49 Archived in Bulgaria

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Must be on the computer magically when your blog comes in. I seem to often be first to make a comment. Bulgaria looks grand and has survived as you say thousands of years of conflict. The beauty is there. Good message for all of us who are worrying about Trump's presidency.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Fabulous old structures. People who have been there longer than I've been here.

by Janet

Can't help but wonder what supports these places. I don't see any sign of farms, vineyards, industry, grand hotels, etc. Hard to imagine that tourism and retirees are enough. Loved the practical use of gravestones. Saved the mason a half dozen rows.

by R and B

Tourism is huge in V.T. The old city has dozens of hotels - many very fancy - and there are scores of excellent restaurants. There are two entire streets of artisans and artists making a living from handmade trinkets. The population is only 70,000 but there are two internationally recognised universities. The farmland in the wide valleys is incredibly fertile thanks to the excellent climate and all manner of crops are grown. There is also industry and hi-tech. There is good reason why the narrow streets of the old city are clogged with Audis and BMWs. And, unlike some cities, there are no homeless or beggars to be seen.

by Hawkson

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