18 September 2005

Sauna on wheels

For the umpteenth weekend, we headed out of Sofia. This time it was an ‘optional’ excursion with Doriana to here hometown of Assenovgrad and Plovdiv. We had to wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning to catch an 8:00 bus (I know that’s not early, but we’ve been spoiled that way lately.) The bus was a humongous, double-decker job that you wouldn’t think would be able to navigate the narrow street of Bulgaria. The bus company’s response to higher fuel cost seemed to be to turn off the A/C and to go slower; I don’t think the driver ever broke 100 km/h. Never the less the Saturday morning ride to Assenovgrad was not too bad; although not comfortable enough to catch up on our sleep deficit of the past few days (out past midnight Thursday [Adam the Peace Corp guy’s last day in Bulgaria] and Friday [Tom Higgin’s {MBAEC alum} ‘end of summer’ party.] The title of this post refers to this afternoon’s ride back to Sofia. We decided sit on the right side of the bus to avoid the sun while traveling west; problem was I sat directly inline with a sunroof. I was the only one in the bus who had to wear sunglasses, but there was no one on the bus who would have allowed me to close this, the only source of fresh air for the second level, nor would I have wanted to experience any worse stifling, BO-laden air. First thing each of us did upon getting home this evening was to take a shower.

Assenovgrad FortressSaturday’s highlight was having a three-hour, four-course lunch at Doriana’s parents’ apartment. The food was incredible and her parents were a lot of fun to talk to despite the language barrier. Afterward, to work of the excesses of the afternoon, we strolled (several km, uphill) to the remnants of the fort and church set on a precipice over the valley leading to Greece—excellent location: you could probably just roll boulders down the hill onto enemy troops coming through the valley.

Ass-Plovdiv train rideSunday morning we took a short train ride to Plovdiv. (I snapped picture above with my head out of the window, then quickly ducked back inside so as not to get smacked in the face by the overgrown bushes/trees—what this country need more than anything is lawnmowers, weed eaters, bush-hogs, and such!) [Insert Top Secret line/joke here.] Oh, by the way, Assenovgrad is the wedding dress capital of Bulgaria; they have tons of bridal shops here. I couldn’t resist getting a picture with my ‘Bulgarian bride’—enjoy.

Joel's Bulgarian BrideIn Plovdiv (3rd largest city and former capital of Bulgaria) we climbed to the top of a hill to see a hazy overview of the city and the Alyosha monument—a statue of a Russian soldier that survived the ‘changes’ of 1989. However the highlight was a black lab that would chase a tennis ball down 100+ stairs and then come bounding back up to his owner only to have to do it all over again—good boy! Later we saw parts of the old town and parts of two Roman amphitheaters. I really liked Plovdiv; I actually think it is nicer than Sofia in a lot of ways. We had lunch at about 1:30pm and then boarded the sauna on wheels for our ride back home at 3:00pm.
Post a Comment