Travels with Papillon




The Narrative



To The Narrative - Page Index

To Camping by Country index






Bulgaria Highlights Tour

We spent 5 nights in Bulgaria so we really only visited the highlights


Spectacular countryside

Fresco - Rila Monastery

Changing of the Guard


As a Cold War Warrior for many years my expectations of Bulgaria were mostly 18th Century.

Wrong!  This former 2nd world nation is making strides that are impressive.  17 years of Capitalism has left a positive mark.  Stores are full with whatever you need.  Clothing is stylish and the women wear it well.  Roads are for the most part good and improving.  As with any nation you will find pockets of poverty in both city and farm.  Soviet era housing stock is bleak and oppressive, but then we have seen sorry looking housing in all of Western Europe and portions of the USA.

English is widely spoken in the tourist areas and we did not have any problems.  Campgrounds are very sparse and Spartan in nature so we spent a couple nights in hotels in the center of the towns.  Either in Camping Bor near Rila, or in the parking lot of Rila Monastery we had 2 hubcaps stolen.



Called Philippopolis by the Hellenes and Trimontium by the Romans, the city has been a major urban center for over 2000 years.  Today it is Bulgaria's 2nd city and host to a charming hilltop Stari Grad (Old Town) and a booming art market, as well as antiques.


The Roman Theater

Preparing the candles for a wedding.

The "Walking Street"


On a busy Saturday morning the priest greets the wedding couple on the right.

Earlier he performed a baptism. 



The capital city since the establishment of the new Bulgarian Republic in 1878, the town has wide boulevards and numerous public ministry buildings - reminiscent of Washington DC's Federal Triangle.

Sofia's main street on a Sunday Morning



Saint Nickolaj the Miracle Maker church.  Built for the "Diplomatic Agent", Semantovski-Kurilo, from Russia in 1914.  He believed that the Bulgarian church was schismatic and refused to attend services there.




The national cathedral - named in honor of Alexsander Nevski - a Russian warrior.  The church honors the 200,000 Russian and Bulgarian war dead from the Russo-Turkish War of 1878 in which Bulgarian gained its independence.


Both interiors were black with what looked like a century's worth of candle smoke. 


*        *        *


Learn to speak Bulgarian with the Cyrillic alphabet

That's right - the word is "Restaurant"




The most famous of Bulgarian monestarys and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Every square inch is covered in frescos




Veliko Tarnovo

Built on the hills that hang over the deep gorge of the Yantra River that twists and loops as it cuts its way down, the city fills the goose neck peninsulas that abound here.


Settled off and on since prehistoric times, it flowered from the mid 1100's to the end of 1300's as the Capital of the 2nd Bulgarian Empire.  In 1185 the Bulgarians drove out the Byzantines and ruled their own lands until the Ottoman Turks overran the countryside in the 1390's.  For the next 500 years, until the 1878, the Bulgarians lived under Turkish rule.  To this day there is still hard feelings towards the Turks.a


The main site to see here is the very impressive and well reconstructed Citadel, or Tsarevets, from that time period.

Most nights they present a Sound and Light Show using the Citadel as the Star attraction.

A very impressive show, well conceived and executed.

To see a few more lightshow photos visit the Pbase site


The church on the top of the Citadel was the Mother Church of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church at the time.

It was rehabilitated during the Soviet era and the murals inside are not what one would expect from the Communist State.

In fact, most of the rehab on the hill was undertaken during Soviet times.  Now with Bulgaria just entering the E.U. you can expect that this town will be "discovered".

Glad we got here before it becomes too touristy.


To the right is a photo of one of the main streets of town.  In view are 2 (Century 21 and Re/max) of the dozen Real Estate companies that have set up storefronts to sell cheap (by western standards) land and homes to foreigners.

We priced some at the windows and prices began at $10,000 and went up to 100 grand or so.  Many Brits especially are attracted to the low cost of property ownership here.

Next - Romania

The Narrative - Page Index