viernes, 24 de octubre de 2008

Bulgaria highlights: Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo (1)

If you ever make it to such a joyful and prosperous land like Bulgaria, you might want to wander off the beaten path, i.e. Sofia, and take a bus to either Pleven, Plovdiv or Veliko Tarnovo. We had to choose two out of those three, and Pleven turned out to be the odd one out. No hard feelings, Pleven. As Diego always puts it, "that way we'll always have something to see when we come back". Now... coming back to Bulgaria? That's a long shot, fella.

Plovdiv was the first stop, and also the city in which Liliana, our host, had lived an indefinite number of years ago. It the second largest city in Bulgaria, after you know which one, and it's also known as the city of the seven hills. Back in the rather old days, when the Romans made it the capital of Tracia, it was called Trimontim. which only goes to show that:

1) Numbers was not the metier of the Romans.
2) The Romans were not adept at finding and/or counting hills.

From the old city you can easily spot 6 of them. On the way up you might want to stop and admire the Roman Amphiteathre, which dates back to the II century AD, and was discovered accidentally during some infrastructure works in the 70s to repair the mess made by a landslide. According to a friend of mine, called Mr. Wikipedia:

It was built under the orders of Trajan the Roman Emperor at this time, and is the largest surviving Roman construction in Bulgaria today. Built with around 7,000 seats, each section of seating had the names of the city quarters engraved on the benches so the citizens at the time knew where they were to sit. The theatre was damaged in the 5th century AD by Atilla the Hun.

We didn't have a lot of time to spare, so we basically walked around the city, visited a mosque and got up to where the sultan used to pray (thanks to the Bulgarian proficiency of our friend Liliana, who has this amazing ability to grant us access to where few tourist/foreigners had ever set foot on), let Diego take a handful of pictures at that McDonald's sign in cyrillic...

Well, I'll just post a picture now and add some more tomorrow, because I gotta wrap this up or the fellow waiting to use the "internets" is going to stab me in the back.

Plovdiv's old city lies ahead.

The Roman Ampitheater.

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