Bulgaria

On 1 Oct, we left Istanbul for Sofia in Bulgaria.  This was another once in a lifetime destination because normally I’d never have thought of doing the former Soviet East-European countries. Thanks to the organizers, TAC Adventurers, I had that opportunity. One obvious thing I noticed upon entering Bulgaria is the display of huge crosses along the way as if to remind everybody that they are a Christian country in contrast to the minarets of Islamic Turkey.  This is probably because they were under Ottoman rule for almost five centuries (1396-1878.)

100_1878Art Gallery building

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4th Century St George church
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Alexander Nevsky cathedral
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Met a Rotarian from Varna

Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria.  When we arrived there it was raining and miserably cold.  However, we did manage a quick tour of the city.   There must be quite a lot to see in Sofia, but we just didn’t have the time.  But the quick exposure was enough to give me an impression that the country has much to offer in the area of tourism by way of drawing tourists visiting Istanbul to also visit Sofia, at least.

bulgaria

Next morning, at the hotel, before departure for Veliko Tarnovo, I met a Rotarian from Varna (a city on the Black Sea coast) and exchanged business cards with him.

Veliko Tarnovo has got an interesting history.  It was the capital and last stronghold of the second Bulgarian Empire that was under siege for three months and fell to the Ottoman Turks back in 1393. The Ottoman rule was ended by the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) when Bulgaria, as it is known today, came into being but under Russian influence.  But Veliko Tarnovo did not stay as the capital; instead Sofia became the new capital.

Ah Boy almost had an accident when jack collapsed

Ah Boy almost had an accident when jack collapsed

Waiting for the group to walk up to the Tsarevet citadel

Waiting for the group to walk up to the Tsarevet citadel

View of the city below from Execution Rock

View of the city below from Execution Rock

Convicts executed by pushing them into the river below

Convicts executed by pushing them into the river below

Concerning the near accident, our mechanic Ah Boy, was attending to Convoy Leader’s car for some undercarriage problems. For some reason the jack collapsed; fortunately the Landcruiser had its wheels on thus there was enough clearance for Ah Boy to ease himself from underneath the car.

The next morning we went on a tour to the Tsarevets citadel, a remarkable fortress up the hill.  As mentioned earlier, this town endured a three month siege by the Ottoman Turks back in 1393 before it fell to the conquerors. If only they won they would have had a fine time pushing the Turkish captives off Execution Rock to their deaths in the river some 100 m below. Nasty!

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