Tsari Mali Grad | Цари Мали Град

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I had never heard of Tsari Mali Grad before when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go there. That wasn’t hard to say no to! The view from the parking lot was already pretty, and that was only halfway the hill. I found out that it was opened in 2013, after archaeological excavations since 2007. Interesting how something like this can be hidden for centuries.

There are 2 ways to get to the fortress. There’s an ecopath and an elevator. We took the ecopath, which was beautiful. I must say, it’s quite a steep walk. We passed a family with a kid in a buggy, and well, I wouldn’t recommend that. After a 10 minute walk through forrest we arrived at the fortress. There’s a long rope bridge above the grass which you can walk to enter the fortress. It’s also possible to walk down the ecopath, for those with the buggy for example. Both will lead you to the entrance.

Once again the view is amazing. You can see far away, different villages and mountains. Beautiful. You can buy a ticket at the entrance, which costs 4 leva for adults and 2 for students and pensioners. Children under 7 are free. There’s a beautfiul clocktower, a church and the fortress itself, with an etnographic collection of coins, pottery  and handcrafts.

Address: Selo (village) Belchin, 2025 Samokov | Село Белчин, 2025 Самоков
Coordinates: 42.354653, 23.382602

howtogettotsarimaligradbetterHow to get there?
Take road 62 between Dupnica and Samokov. When coming from Dupnica take a left after 25 km. When coming from Samokov take a right after 12,5 km. After 2 km you’ll reach the village of Belchin. Take the second street left and follow this road until you’re at the restaurant and elevator. There’s a parking lot on the right.

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How to have the best ‘Rila’ experience

Howtohavethebestrilaexperience

I’ve been to the Rila monastery twice now. The first time I was amazed by the monastery, the church and the clocktower which are all amazing. But for me, when it comes to these places, I get supercurious about the things behind doors and ‘forbidden’ signs.

”How to buy the ticket that will get you in to the clock tower, the museum, the icon gallery, the guest rooms, the costume collection, the jewelry collection, the blanket/carpet collection and the old monastery kitchen.” Sounds good, right?

So, we went for the second time. After some walking around we saw a sign ‘icon gallery’. It wasn’t that impressive, but there was a lady who told us that we could buy all-in tickets at the museum. While having doubts about these tickets we went to the museum, and after a little Bulgarian chat we decided to buy the tickets for 18 leva p.p.

We went into the museum, which was really nice. It’s not so big, because it’s in a part of the monastery, but they had a beautiful collection with some Bulgarian and English information. After seeing the museum we went outside and somehow figured out that we could climb the clocktower with our tickets! Nice! We went inside and walked several stairs, crossing different floors with some paintings and old ‘hole’ toilets in the walls. From the highest floor you have a nice window view over the monastery from different corners.

When we were back down there was a woman who told us to come with her. We didn’t really know why but followed. She took us to the second floor of the monastery, which I thought was pretty exciting, and unlocked a door. That was the first of 4 or 5 guest rooms in traditional Bulgarian style from several areas in Bulgaria. Seats, carpet, paintings, ovens, a kitchen, closets and much more. Really beautiful.

After showing us these rooms she took us to the third floor (yay!) where she showed us a beautiful Bulgarian costume collection, also from different areas. Since my friend and I really like this and told her about it she started to sing a song for us. So sweet! There was also a jewelry collection and a room filled with carpets and blankets. Amazing.

After that she took us back downstairs and to another corner of the monastery. She told us we could take a look there as well and said goodbye. We were surprised once again, didn’t expect her to leave us. We thanked her and took a look in the old monastery kitchen with a gigantic pizza oven.

After seeing all this we decided to take a break and so we bought ourselves some delicious Mekitsi outside the monastery at the window shop in the building next to it. Mekitsi are typical Bulgarian fried pieces of dough. Jummy!

I had no idea about all these rooms and collections and I’m so glad the woman told us about the ticket! I feel like they’ve got great things, they just don’t know how to sell them.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures from the first and second floor, the rooms and the collections, which was understandable but a bit disappointing. The employees also didn’t speak English, which made it somewhat unclear sometimes. But if you want to see more than the church and the monastery view I can totally recommend this!

Want to know how to get there? Or looking for some more information about the monastery itself? Read more

HostelMostel Veliko Tarnovo | ХостелМостел Велико Търново

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After multiple great experiences at HostelMostel Sofia I decided to try out the one in Veliko Tarnovo during my stay there. And it was good. It’s different from Sofia, but it’s an amazing place. I went there in October and it wasn’t too crowded, which was nice because I stayed there with my family. It’s situated close to Tsarevets, the (remains of the) castle that once ruled Bulgaria. The hostel is not in the center though, and as we drove there we were wondering whether we were going in the right direction. But there it was, exactly as the TomTom told us!

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It’s a traditional Bulgarian house with on the first floor the reception, some computers and as you walk in to the room there’s a chill-out-place. Pillows on the floor, some cute little wooden stools and a little table. The dorms, bathrooms and toilets are all linked to the central living room.

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The dorms have bunk beds with next to them closets where you can keep your valuable stuff when you want to. They’ve got keys at the reception.

hostel-mostel veliko tarnovo dining roomDownstairs there’s a room with picknick tables, a little bar and a kitchen. They serve breakfast in the morning and have milk, tea and coffee prepared. In the evening they serve diner as well (we haven’t tried it, went out to eat in the center). It’s also possible to enjoy the sun, there’s a corner outside the first floor, after the stairs outside where you can sit and enjoy the weather, and there’s a garden!

Prices are between 20 leva for a bed in a 10-bed dormitory and 46 leva for a single private room. It’s also possible to camp there, a tent space will cost you 18 leva. It’s easy to make a reservation, you can do this on their website.

Address: Street Iordan Indzheto 10, Veliko Tarnovo | Улица Йордан Инджето 10
Coordinates: 43.079751, 25.645270

How to get there
Whether you’re driving from the E85 or the E772, drive until the junction. From there take the 5/E85 going north, where you’ll have to follow the sign ‘Center’. This road, the 514, will be on your left, after about 500 m depending where in the junction you’re coming from. When you arrive at the T junction go right to stay on the 514 for another 1,2 km. Then take a slight right to the street Chitalishtna (улица Читалищна). After 210 m take another right to Street Iordan Indzheto (Улица Йордан Инджето). The hostel will be on your right after about 100 m.

howtogettohostelmostelvelikotarnovo

Bachkovo monastery | Бачковски манастир

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When we drove to the Bachkovo monastery, we saw the signs on our way there. The last one led us to the parking lot. After we parked the car we followed the street which went up hill to the monastery. Along the street were many souvenir shops and food stands. They sell pottery, candy, herbs, bracelets and more. I bought myself some herbs once. You will pass a gate and a little fountain and before you know it you will stand in front of the monastery, with on your right some beautiful trees.

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Next to the entrance is also a small fountain. The beautiful gate will lead you to the courtyard, with in the middle an orthodox church, a big tree with a gutter around it, a patch of grass with a fountain on it, chickens and a rooster walking around and the beautiful 3 stories of monk cells (and probably others things, this makes me curious!) surrounding this all.

Also good to know, on the left side of the monastery, opposite the entrance of the church, there’s a door. You should definitely check if it’s open, because there’s another little courtyard behind it with another little church. You can’t enter the church, but the view from outside is amazing already. When you’re not sure about whether it’s okay to go there, ask someone ‘Mozhe li da pogledam kakwo e tam?’ May I see what’s there?

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I really like this monastery. It’s a cozy one and it really feels like you’re back in time (when there aren’t groups of tourists..). I’ve been here 3 times and it has been wonderful every time.

Adress: Plovdiv and the Valley of the Kings | Пловдив и Долината на тракийските царе
Coordinates: 41.943642, 24.855324

How to get there?
When you drive on the 86 between Asenovgrad and Chepelare you will find Bachkovo monastery on the east side of the road. It lies beneath the town of Bachkovo. From Asenovgrad it’s about 10 km, from Chepelare about 43 km. You will see the signs when you get closer, including the one leading to the parking lot next to the road. It’s next to a river, where there’s a walking bridge.

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Yo-ho-Hostel Varna | Йо-Хо-Хостел Варна

normal_100_5049This hostel is awesome. As soon as you enter you will find yourself in an aquarium hallway. The stairs will lead you to the hostel itself, with the reception. It’s really messy, creative, cozy, free minded, international and fun. There’s always someone there to help you, they speak English and are more than willing to help you. They’ve got their own citymaps with places to go and things to do and they will love to tell you their favorite places. And when their day of work is over, you can come along aswell!

normal__MG_0746There are pictures, posters, figurines, paintings and many other stuff around the hostel. There are rooms for 11 and 4 people, but it’s also possible to have a private room for 2 or 1. The cheapest bed will cost you 14 leva and will be in the 11-bed dorm.

There are showers on both floors of the hostel, there’s a livingroom with couches, computers, a table with some chairs and there’s a kitchen where you can find your not-so-amazing breakfast (Tip: toast your bread!). There’s also a backyard, with lots of places to hang out.

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The hostel can help you with activities. It’s possible to go bungeejumping, or to join a boat trip on a ‘Waterbattleship’. And there’s more!

I loved how easy it was to meet new people there. This hostel attracts people who are open to meeting other people, and after hanging out in the living room a little bit, we got ourselves a dinerdate with 3 others. It was also nice to ask whoever was around to join the Free Varna Tour, because that way you will see more of the city and you will also get to know the ones you ‘know’ from the hostel better.

DSCN5495Varna is a coastal town, and I think the best time to go there is in the summer. There are people everywhere, there’s live music, nice beachbars and restaurants, it’s so alive! There’s a creative, free vibe, and there’s a big offer in different music and scenes. It’s a touristic city, but the diversity of the tourists is big.

Adress: ulitsa ‘Ruse’ 23, 9000 Varna (улица ‘Русе’ 23, 9000 Варна)
Coordinates: 43.203645, 27.910240

How to get there?
It’s really close to the cathedral of the assumption of the blessed virgin, the biggest church in Varna. When you’re standing on the side of the church with all the taxis in the front, follow the big street to the right a little bit. There’s an underpass. Then follow the street and take the first left. Yo-ho-hostel is on the right side of the street, with a door post and a sign above it.

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Asens fortress | Асенова крепост

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DSCN6055The remains of a fortress with a strategic location and a two-story church. That’s Asens Fortress. You can go there by car, although there are also people who prefer to walk there. At the entrance of the area the view is already incredible, and it only gets better. The stairs will lead you around the top of the hill towards the church. It’s also possible to walk the stone stairs up the hill from where you will have a wide view. Because after all that’s the reason the fortress was build here. I’ve never seen a church with 2 floors that are both open for public. The idea for the first floor was an ossuary, a place for graves, but it was never used this way. Now it’s some sort of mysterious ceremonial place, with chairs, candleholders and rock formations.

On the second floor you will find the main part of the church. The plaster isn’t what it used to be and the paintings aren’t intact, but it’s beautiful. With a little bit of luck the sun will shine through the windows which makes it magical. It’s a light, silent, bright, old place.

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The Thracians saw the potential of the location in the 5th century and build the first fortress. It was rebuild in times of the Roman Empire, as a defend against Slavics. When in hands of the Byzantines, the first tower was build. In 1204 the Crusaders took over, but not for long. In 1231 king Asen II led the expansion and rebuilding of the fortress. The fortress got his name, aswell as the city next to it, Asenovgrad (City of Asen). In times of the Ottomon Empire, Sultan Bayazid took over. After his death in 1402 and a short time of leadership by one of his sons the fortress was destroyed to make ure opponents of the throne wouldn’t take over and use it’s strategic location. Only the church was saved.

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howtogettoasensfortressHow to get there?
Drive to Asenovgrad on the 86. This road will lead you through the town. For those of you who love wedding dresses, make sure to keep your eyes wide open! When you see the river in front of you the road will bow to the right a little bit. You will have a rock formation on the right after which will be the exit to Asens fortress. There’s a brown sign on the left side of the main road that says ‘Asens fortress, 2 km, –>’. Follow this road, it will lead you to the entrance of the fortress. There’s a little parking lot behind the ‘office’ where they sell tickets, to get there follow to road until after the bend. It’s really close, you just have to know it! A ticket will cost you aroud 3 leva.

November – March
Wednesday – Sunday
10.00 am to 5.00 pm

April – November
Wednesday – Sunday
10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday

Hostel Old Plovdiv

1359625375677408 This is a beautiful and cozy hostel in the center of the Old Town of Plovdiv. You’re surrounded by an ethnographic museum, the amfi theater, the top of the hill with an amazing view (watch a sunset there!), part of the ancient stadium, church of the holy mother of god, restaurants, shops with handmade products, the dzhumaya mosque and many more. Wander around in the old streets and take time to look around.

The hostel has several rooms, for 2,3 or 4 people. It’s also possible to have a single room, or to ask kindly for a room for 5. Each room has something special, unique bedframes and antique accessories. There’s even a room with an amazing painting on the wall. None of them have a bathroom, you can find those next to the hallway with the reception.

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In the morning there’s a good breakfast, which you can eat outside in the garden. There’s also a ‘livingroom’ with a big baroque-ish couch and chairs. There’s a computer aswell.
The staff is great, they speak English and know a lot about the old town and Plovdiv. The staff I met was also great to hang out with in the garden! There’s always someone at the reception.

Adress: ulitsa ‘Chetvarti yanuari’ 3, 4000 Plovdiv | улица ‘Четвърти януари’ з
Coordinates: 42.149872, 24.752254

How to get there?
Walking from the shoppingstreet
Somewhere in the middle of the shopping street you find the mosque (pink), part of the ancient stadium and a little park(green).
Walk between de mosque and the park all the way up. Keep the church on your right. When you arrive on a little square go left. You will find the hostel at the left side.

Travelling with bus/taxi142557147495552/car
The busses stop at boulevard Tsar Boris III Obedinitel right after the tunnel. When you get out walk the stairs (red), with the tunnel on your right. Take the second street right, then a left and a right and you will find the hostel at the right side.

From the train/bus station (they’re pretty much next to each other) you can take bus 7, 20, 26 or shuttlebus2. You can buy bustickets in the bus. When with a car or taxi you can either stop at boulevard Tsar Boris III Obedinitel and walk the red route or follow the green line. Taxi’s will bring you halfway up there. There a possibility to park your car when you get on the ‘blue’ street, right before the church.