Next stop the ancient picturesque city of Veliko Turnovo. On the way we popped in to see the natural wonder of the Devataki limestone caves on the Devataki plateau. It’s an impressive natural phenomena, a huge series of vaults complete with a large resident bat population. Studies show that it was inhabited during almost every era dating back to the early stone age.
Devataki Caves are cool
It also happens to have been used a film location for that classic movie The Expendables 2 which I have still to see. We reached the cave across an ugly concrete bridge which Velis, our fantastic tour guide, called ‘Arnies bridge.’ I think they blew a lot of things up there, that’s mainly what happens in those films.
An impressive Roman excavation Nicopolis ad Istrum was also en route, where archaeologists are digging up a whole Roman city and every day exciting new discoveries about this outpost from the Empire are being made. The Romans had bath houses and market places and Theatres, and they always had a road which led back to Rome. Naturally.
Nicopolis – under construction
At last we reached Veliko Tarnovo. This is a gorgeous medieval city and one of the old capitals of Bulgaria. Sometimes known as the city of the Tsars it is located on the beautiful winding Yantra River. The old part of the city is situated on the three hills and is a cultural and tourist hub with a cosmopolitan feel. It is also very good for those who like bargain shopping, of which I happen to be one.They have lots and lots of attractive pottery at incredibly cheap prices and I had heard that you could buy a bottle of vodka there for £1.50. We made a special trip to the supermarket to see if this was true. We were able to verify this – you can get a small bottle of ‘Doctor’s’ Vodka for £1.50 and a bottle of delicious ‘Flirt’ vodka – for not much more. Obviously we had to buy a few bottles for market research purposes.
Top Value Vodka
We also popped into the estate agents at Veliko Turnovo to see if property really is as cheap here as we had heard and compared to the UK it is indeed, incredibly cheap. You could by a beautiful three story town house out in the countryside for 50,000 Euros! People pay more than that for a beach hut here!
Post Communist Ceramics
I confess we did skip the waxwork museum which only featured past prime ministers of Bulgaria (what! no Michael Jackson?) as we thought we wouldn’t know what they looked like anyway, and instead checked out the antique shops for Bulgarian silver and Communist memorabilia.We had a Bulgarian Margarita for £1.50 and enjoyed the unique street art, the very nice restaurants and the first class Bulgarian wine. There is evidence that Bulgaria was one of the earliest wine making countries in the world. Bulgarian wine is jolly nice and it’s a crying shame you can’t buy it in Tescos..