09 August 2013

Trigrad via Plovid to Blagoevgrad
walk around town
kids swimming in fountains

It is time for us to try going further west into the mountains.  Our next stop is Rozhen, as there is supposed to be a beautiful monastery there.

This meant an early start, as the bus left at 7am, and we were on the wrong side of the river.  Down to the bridge, then up the other side.  The roads are pretty pad, and we had to carry the bags most of the way!  The bus even departed at the time we were given.  Driving back through the gorge, detouring up the mountain to a small town and into Devin.

From here the fun started.  We thought we would be able to catch a bus West of here.  Thinking that we would be able get a bus to Melnik, where there are some interesting formations in the national park.

It turned out that we couldn’t.  We could get one or two towns over, and spend the night there to hopefully catch another bus west the next morning, but they didn’t know if these buses even existed.
We couldn’t even get a bus to Blagoevgrad, the major town west of here. The only things we could do were go straight to Sofia, or back to Plovdiv.

BpoststatueThis was very frustrating, especially as we ended up backtracking to Plovdiv.  This was a long and uncomfortable bus ride.  The scenery is not all that different to the rest of the area.  A few hills, mountains, rivers, fields of sunflowers and traffic.

Arriving in Plovdiv, we found that we would have to change bus stations, as you can’t just have one, can you?  So as we walked to the other station, we checked out trains.  No luck there.

At the other bus station, we could catch a bus to
Blagoevgrad. That was the extent of their knowledge.  Anything past this, we would have to find out when we get there.

So, after a long wait we had another long bus ride.  This time skirting the foothills of the Rila Mountains.
It was at least more comfortable this time, but that is about the best you could say.

Bpoststatue2Arriving in Blagoevgrad it was too late to continue on to Melnik, so we had to find some accommodation here.  This was not too hard, as we got some help from a friendly Bulgarian woman in one of the stalls at the station.  Of course there was no information available at the station.  That would make things too easy wouldn’t it.

The hotel we ended up in was pretty good.  A bit pricey, but the beds were way better than the other hotels we checked out.  Even ones more expensive had worse beds.

After checking in, we went for a walk around town. It has a few walking streets with a cafe culture, as is common in the country, and honestly, it is pretty similar to most of the other bigger towns and small cities in the country!

Благоевград_2681Massive fountains built with EU money, deteriorating footpaths, with a few green areas here and there. Although it was fun to watch the little kids swimming in one of the larger fountains outside the University.  We don’t think they were supposed to, but they were having a lot of fun, and nobody cared about it.  For us it was great, as each kid in the fountain was one less on the street trying to get money out of us.  There seem to be a lot here working the walking streets to get money.Bpostfountain

Blagoevgard is semi famous for their turn of the century buildings, but we could not see many..

Blagoevgard is semi famous for their turn of the century buildings, but we could not see many..

Blagoevgrad doesn’t seem to be that poor, but we have already seen more people here sorting garbage to get the paper and plastics than anywhere else.  Also the towns we passed through to get here were not looking the best either.
Bulgaria is supposed to be the poorest country in the EU, but so far it has seemed to be pretty well off, compared to Romania at least.  Yet in Romania we could get to the very small non touristy towns, and here it has not been possible, so all we can go off are the amounts of Audi’s, BMW’s, Merc’s and other expensive cars driving around compared to the horse and carts.

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