After a week in Sofia, I found myself in Plovdiv. This involved train journey of around three hours (costing a bargain €4.50). My train experience wasn’t too bad, just a little confusing. Destinations are only written in Cyrillic, necessitating scrutinising my ticket and trying to find a matching place on the destination board.
Well it’s not as bad as China; at least Cyrillic does bear some resemblance to letters we’re all familiar with. Plus I have been teaching myself Cyrillic, with the help of the internet (good old youtube; what did we do before it came along eh?) and I am currently around half way through all the symbols. I can now figure out the odd word here or there.
So, Plovdiv then.
Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe, dating back around 6,000 years. It was first inhabited by the Thracians (not much is known about them since they didn’t leave much behind), then the Romans came and conquered and then it became part of the Ottoman empire.
It is surrounded by hills. A good Plovdiv activity is to climb one of these hills and watch the sunset, before climbing down and going to eat in one of the many restaurants.
Another good Plovdiv activity is to walk around the cobbled streets of the old town.
There is a lot of street art, dotted around the town.
Also good is the city park. Great for escaping the heat during the day and also for enjoying the coloured fountains during the evening.
All in all there was enough to keep me occupied for a few days. Plovdiv is do-able as a day trip from Sofia, but I’m glad I gave it a space on my itinerary in its own right. A day would probably seem a bit rushed.
For accommodation I found the Star hotel, which came in cheaper than a couple of nearby hostels and was in a great location right on the pedestrian street.
It was a strange place. It looked a bit like a set from a b-movie haunted house story: all decorated in various shades of brown and beige, it was constantly dark and everything creaked. A hangover from Bulgaria’s communist past maybe? I’m not sure but it was good value and held a kind of kitsch appeal, whilst I speculated on ghosts and a gruesome past. I didn’t see another guest in the hotel for the whole three days I was there, although I saw and heard plenty of evidence of the presence of other people.
No ghostly going ons to report though; the TV in the next room kept switching on and off, but I think there was somebody in there doing it.