We leave our home exchange apartment in Sofia around 10 am. It’s a short walk to the central bus station. We go past a group of bystanders and see three men lying on their sides on the ground, hands handcuffed behind them and surrounded by police officers in front of a police station. I’m not brave enough to take a photo unfortunately. It’s the first sign of crime we’ve seen since we arrived.
Our walk takes us past the Lion Bridge and along the first bike path we’ve seen too. It’s a very good bike path, much frequented by pedestrians and perfect for our roll-on bag. We only see one bike. We arrive at the very modern bus station. I buy the tickets (14 lev each) from a window on the right as you walk in and am served by the rudest person you could imagine. That, too, is a first in Bulgaria.
I go to the Ladies (0.5 lev) and we make our way to platform 6 to take the 11 am bus. The buses leave every hour on the hour. We climb in and I am surprised to see there is no one down the back. We take the first two available seats together. The bus fills up and a very big, loud woman arrives and is obviously saying I’m in her seat. She shows us her ticket and we discover, to our surprise, that ours are numbered too! The lady behind us says to stay put and says something to the other lady who goes off to find another seat. We’re relieved because our seat numbers are not together!
The trip itself, mainly along the motorway, is fairly monotonous and takes a little over 2 hours. When we get out, it already feels different from Sofia. The sun is shining and it’s a bit warmer. We find Yvan Vazov street and start walking the 15 minutes to our hotel. I immediately feel good in Plovdiv. The street is lovely and shady and there is a definite vibrancy in the air. It is less run-down than Sofia.
We arrive at the Romantica Hotel and the friendly receptionist takes us to our room. It was the last one available when I booked several days earlier and although there are twin beds, I was told they could be pushed together. Considering the size of the room, right next to reception, I might add, there isn’t much hope of that. But the real surprise is the bathroom. The toilet is IN the shower area with a curtain in front of the toilet. I’ve never seen that one before! Definitely not as romantic as its name.
I like the look of the restaurant opposite, which is called Hemingway, so we decide to eat there. Our initial plan to sit on the very attractive terrace is thwarted by construction work just next to our hotel. Oh dear, I hope it doesn’t start too early in the morning.
When the waiter hears us speak French, he goes off to get another waiter who speaks excellent English (learnt from the movies) and a smattering of French. We order a couple of delicious vegetarian dishes and a glass of excellent wine. I choose some divine foccacia-like bread served in a paper bag. It’s the best meal we’ve had in Bulgaria so far, all for a mere 30 lev (15 euro) for the two of us. I’m liking Plovdiv more and more.
After lunch, we set off for the old town. But that will be another post!Hemingway, 10 Gurko Street, Plovdiv. 9 am to 1 am. Tel 032 267350. Mobile 0894490636. http://hemingway.bg/en. firstname.lastname@example.org