Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day 2 - Velico Tarnovo, Bulgaria (BG) - Велико Търново -

Velico Tarnovo, Bulgaria (BG) - Велико Търново -  Day 2 

Eliza, Our Tour Guide 
Today, after our breakfast of baloney and cheese, still sore from the previous day’s climbing and walking, we took the ‘city’ tour. This day was a Sunday (Sept. 27/15) and we read that the town of V.T. gives free walking tours of the old merchandise streets. Kind of like a historic walking tour. We met a young woman, Eliza, in front of the Info Center. It took us 40 minutes to walk to this spot, so we already felt tired when we got there. Besides Carol and I, we had one more guy on this tour.  Eliza’s English was wonderful. She was our free tour guide for a few hours (3) on this Sunday and she knew her town and the right people and the right stores to go into. Eliza started off by giving us some insight into a few customs Bulgarians have that I did not know about. Here is one of the stories.
In a Magnolia Tree 

Along time ago during a battle, a General received a messenger pigeon that had a white cotton string attached to its leg with a message. During its flight the pigeon was attacked and blood had seeped from its body and mottled the white cotton string with flecks of red, giving the string a red/white, candy-cane stripped look. After receiving this pigeon with the red and white stringed message, the General won this deciding battle and thought that the red and white string brought him luck. He kept this string during all of March and April of every year  and he gave red/white strings to all his friends because he wanted to share his luck with them. Out of this story came the custom, just before May 1st of every year, to give to your many friends red/white cotton string. Eliza said she wears them around her wrists and literally has both arms full on May 1st.  Then on May 1st, this ‘luck’ gets transferred or hung, into flowering trees so that the ‘good luck’ can transfer to nature and grow along with the trees. While we were standing under a magnolia tree I could still see here and there some red/white amulets hanging off branches. It made me smile when Eliza gave me a bracelet even though it was Sept., but I have had nothing but good luck since. I looked the story up on the internet and Wiki tells it a little differently. Still, its a good story. (Red and White Strings)

Eliza took us to an old street in town, still occupied by local artists making ceramic, copper, silver or other artistic items. She gave each of us an herbal mint, said to be good for cold sores and sore throats. This mint was used a lot during the communist era when medicine was scarce. It seems to work.
Turkish Coffee Making 

Our next visit was into a traditional candy shop where sugary treats were made and sold and homemade, original Turkish coffee was brewed. The coffee was thick as mud, brewed on top of the stove and the brew was heated in a sand box on top of a wood fired stove; an original way to heat the room, cook and make tea and/or coffee. We had a cup of coffee, of course and also some sweets, which were very sugary but sooo good. When the coffee was drunk, we were shown how to tip the coffee grinds onto the saucer plate so that from the grinds one’s fortune could be read. Some say, one can see the health of the individual, too. Unfortunately we did not have a ‘coffee grind reader’ at the store at the time, so I cannot tell you what my fortune will be or how long I will live, but so far I am healthy.
The Whole Town Is Built On Hills

Staircases Wherever We Went 

Traditional Balconies On Bulgarian Houses

Telephone Switch Boxes, Transformers, All Decorated 

More and More Stairs 

A Silversmith At Work 
And This Is His Monstrance 

 We chatted with the pottery woman, who sat at her wheel molding bowls and plates.

Making Plates and Bowls, Mostly

I Found It Difficult To Walk On  These Cobblestones

We stopped in at a Silversmith who was working on a monstrance for a church, very elaborate.

 We walked cobble stone alleys, stone stairs and saw old churches, some of them abandoned. At one church we could only see the unusual layout and building techniques from the outside since it was Sunday and services were going on.
Each Color, Each Part Of the Dress Had It's Own Meaning 
We were shown traditional clothing; were told that a man’s mustache shows his status in society and his virility, too.

We were shown and yes, we danced in the streets, 2 or 3 traditional dance steps. All had a giggle and the mood was fun and we felt free and a little smarter.
Dancing In the Street With the Laughter Of People Around Me

We said good bye to Eliza and then found a small restaurant we had passed earlier, half way up a hill, that had a terrace overlooking the roofs of V.T. and it felt nostalgic and the food was wonderful.

But then………we went back to the hotel and had a nap. Phew, this town, V.T. has a lot to offer and it wore me out.

A Nice Spot For a Meal

For dinner we had Chicken Kavarma, it was served in an earthen pot, sealed tight so it can stew and cook in its own juices. It was delightful and a new experience. 

We slept like babies that night and after our 'breakfast' of baloney and cheese the next day, we left the garage but not without first 'walking' the route we would have to take to get us onto the main street. The exit was worse than the entrance. From a dead stop inside the flat garage, it was up a steep hill, make a sharp right, miss the potholes, avoid the traffic and don't slip on the cobblestones, through a tight stop avoiding the parked car, along an uphill alley into the busy main street. Phew, we made it.

Other than that, V.T. was a fun town, a good stop for anyone who visits BG.


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