It’s time to continue our alphabetical ranking of favorite destinations. These are not the absolute best or most interesting or most worthwhile destinations, but ones that I have memorized for something. So, I present to you my five favorite / remarkable places to see in Bulgaria with “V”.
Surprise, huh? Who would think of Vitosha, which is “only” the favorite walkway of Sofia the capital of Bulgaria?! For me it is the oldest park (first national, then people’s, now natural) not only in Bulgaria but also on the Balkan Peninsula. A place where I have friends and colleagues working, who are sincerely dedicated to nature and its protection. Well, also a place that offers relatively quick access to snow, if you have started to miss it at the end of May. Home of impressive rivers of stones, under which real rivers flow, of water. Innocent-looking peat bogs that someone seems to have specially arranged for a photo. And also a place where you can meet a gallery of strange characters – from the super-sporty young man running every day to Mt. Cherni Vrah and back on his lunch break; the tough old ladies, ready to cross the mountain with just a waffle in their bags, to the complete idiot, headed to the Boyana waterfall in flip-flops.
2. Vrachanski Balkan
Having started with mountains and nature parks, of course we can not miss Vrachanski Balkan. In my opinion, a slightly neglected part of the Balkans compared to the central ridge, completely undeserved. The karst nature of geography here has produced incredible landscapes. Plus climbing walls along the area of Vratsata, right next to the town, whose name the whole area bears. Caves, the most famous of which is the Ledenika Cave with its ice falls in winter. I have some remarks about the EU-funded project infrastructure, recently built around the entrance of the cave, but I will leave them for another time. On the other hand, you can always take the alternative to the nearby Path of Tales, I promise that both young and old children will like it. Be sure to stop in the city below, see the Visitor Center of the park in the old hammam and the Regional History Museum with one of the best (at least in my opinion) Thracian treasures discovered in our lands.
The third of my remarkable places to see in Bulgaria with “V” is also in its Northwestern part. I don’t remember if they got us there during the countless school trips when I was little, so I connect the place mainly with the hometown of my sister-in-law and one of the approaches to Romania. However, one cannot (and should not) miss the Baba Vida Fortress, one of the few standing medieval fortresses in Bulgaria, they even believe it to be the only one fully preserved. Or the Regional Historical Museum of Vidin with its other sites – Konaka (Ottoman military station) and the Cross-shaped Barracks. Or a short walk along the Danube promenade and around the city center with a cup of coffee in one of the nice cafes. And for dinner – certainly some fish on a boat at the river.
4. Veliko Tarnovo
Going east, we pass through the old Bulgarian capital and really my favorite city, Veliko Tarnovo. A city with a unique geographical location, to start with, climbing the hills above the Yantra River in a dizzying way. A city with an exceptional cultural heritage, which I am sure touches the heart of every Bulgarian – not only with the so-called Royal Hill, Tsarevets, but also the neighboring Trapezitsa; the churches that played an important and often tragic role in our history and all the priceless artifacts in the network of sites at the Regional History Museum. To them, of course, we must add the tempting Samovodska Charshia (trade street), the multimedia visitor center called “Tsarevgrad Tarnov”, the relatively new amusement park of Mini Bulgaria, a lot of galleries, shops with great designer jewelry and – I can not miss it – my favorite restaurant of Shstlivetsa (The Happy Man). In short, a happy place, I will keep going back there.
It is very strange – and completely inexplicable – to have grown up with Varna as a second hometown because there are your grandparents, a bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins; to have spent vacations and holidays there; to have visited it with love every year, and finally not to have a decent picture of it! On the other hand, here is my chance to surprise you. I will not show you the center of Varna with the Cathedral, the pedestrian zone, the enigmatic hotel of Cherno More (Black Sea) and the Sea Garden; I will not show you the Aquarium, the Dolphinarium and the Planetarium; nor the Archaeological Museum with the oldest processed gold or any of the other wonderful museum sites. Do not expect a picture of the famous beaches of Varna. Instead, I can only offer a photo of the Varna sea (sorry, with me inside) and a Varna iguana, brought in and permanently settled here from unknown lands.
I solemnly swear to do better and acquire decent photos of Varna, Velingrad, Varshets and other interesting places to see in Bulgaria with “V”. Until then, I can suggest that you pay a visit to my favorite places with “B” in our beautiful country.