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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Plovdiv will be European Capital of Culture in 2019: Start planning your next trip to Bulgaria!

Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria at almost half a million inhabitants, is a Balkan star rising. Forming part of a trend that sees “Europe’s second cities” gain in popularity, it may well steal the show off its capital neighbour to the West, the city of Sofia. In my last post about Bulgaria, I have already told you about my first 48 hours in Sofia, as well as shared some travel tips for visiting Bulgaria’s interior with you.

Today, it is all about Plovdiv though – and thus, a travel destination that should really be on your list for 2019 (a year that will also see even more travel connections to the southeast of Bulgaria). Why? Well, there’s the ubiquitous rose oil for a start, excellent and unique in its kind; the countless Thracian wines of which Plovdiv forms the cradle, or the many creative artists that populate the old town of Plovdiv, commonly known as Kapana Arts District. Add to this, the city’s designation as “European Capital of Culture” (a title proudly worn), and you will get a feel for what the buzz in Plovdiv is all about.

 

“First things first”: What’s to see on a first day’s walk around the old town of Plovdiv?

A whole lot, to be honest. I personally loved the “Street of Crafts” above all, mostly because of the artisans who practice and invite us to join them in their crafts! Also, you can climb one of Plovdiv’s little hills and be rewarded with a magnificent view to the south, over its ancient Roman Amphitheatre, surprisingly intact. There are many old houses with detailed facade paintings and woodcraft, too, reminiscent of some of the houses I’ve seen in other parts of Europe, for instance the Alsace. Very interesting. Check this out.

#PlovdivTogether lautet einer der offiziellen Hashtags für das Jahr der Kulturhauptstadt 2019: Sogar

#PlovdivTogether is one of the city’s current main hashtags, proudly worn even in the floor signs of the old town.

 

Der Blick über das alte Amphitheater Plovdiv's fasziniert ...

What a view over the Roman Amphitheatre: I’d love to be back in the summer for a play …

 

... wir sehen uns zwischenzeitlich mal in der Innenstadt um und entdecken dabei diese charmante Dame, einst Balletttänzerin und Sängerin wie sie uns frohgemut verrät ...

… meanwhile on our stroll, we get to know and chat with this former ballet dancer and singer, who is said to have inspired her husband to the most amazing mosaic work around town : Clearly a very fashionable, yet modestly humble lady …

 

... in diesem Gästehaus würde ich auch gern mal nächtigen ...

… would love to be back and spend the night in this little guesthouse in the old town …

 

... wir sehen uns weiter um ...

… and as we carry on during our visit …

 

... finden schon bald neue Freunde ...

… we start making new friends …

 

... bestaunen einige der schönsten Häuser der Stadt ...

… marvel at some of the rather magnificent houses of the old town of Plovdiv …

 

... treffen Künstler ...

… meet with artists in the “Street of Crafts” …

 

... und Kreative ...

… follow along their creative footsteps …

 

... die uns auch einladen, mitunter selbst Hand anzulegen ...

… enjoy the possibility to become creative ourselves …

 

... diesen sympathischen Bäcker müsst Ihr kennen lernen: Auch seine Backstube befindet sich mitten an der sogenannten "Street of Crafts" im Kapana Arts District, hier sind ganz viele liebenswerte bulgarische Künstler zu finden.

… and to really meet the locals of Kapana Arts District, such as this young baker here who regularly does workshops for visitors.

 

Plovdiv ...

Plovdiv has a wonderfully lively arts & crafts scene …

 

... was beispielsweise auch am Blick dieses Hauses einmal mehr deutlich sichtbar wird.

… and is well rooted in its history, as emphasised by this old house with its magnificent facade here.

 

If you’re looking for foodie recommendations, go and check out “Happy People Under The Sky” (yep, that’s the restaurant’s name!) or THE chocolatier in town, Vincent Gaillot, of Gaillot Chocolat.

At the restaurant Ресторант “Щастливци под тепето” (the link leads you to their Bulgarian Facebook page), everything just falls into place: Welcome, items of furniture, aroma & atmosphere, quality of food and service. As soon as I’m back in Plovdiv, I shall make a point of going there again, really. The same is true for visiting Frenchman Vincent Gaillot: Him and his Bulgarian wife have made it their mission to craft artisan chocolate and even accommodate visitors to make their own chocolate in a simple, yet truly entertaining one-hour chocolate workshop. Chocolate “made in Bulgaria” – I love it. There is even chocolate with sea salt off Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast. Check this out: http://www.gaillotchocolate.com.

Wir dürfen, sollen, können uns kreativ austoben ...

During our creative chocolate workshop …

 

... wenn uns Plovdiv lehrt, unsere eigene, köstliche Schokolade zu produzieren ...

… we are encouraged to make our own chocolate as varied as possible …

 

... und diese dann natürlich zu genießen ..

… resulting in “deliciously handmade” …

 

... auch nicht zu verachten: Die vielen, bulgarischen Weine ...

… followed by a wine and dinner tasting later in the day …

 

... welche ideal im Rahmen einer Weinverkostung

… allowing testimony to the many excellent Bulgarian wines, such as the ones from Bendida and Justina Wine Estates, near the city of Plovdiv.

 

Kulinarisch kann ich Euch weiters das Restaurant ... im Herzen der Altstadt Plovdiv's empfehlen ...

My foodie recommendation, as mentioned, goes for this restaurant called “Happy People under the Sky”, located at the heart of town …

 

... hierher lohnt es sich jederzeit, mit Freunden & Familie einzukehren.

… truly worth your while when visiting Plovdiv.

 

What’s left for Plovdiv, you may wonder? Definitely a feeling of joy and anticipation for 2019, as well as for further years to come.

I mean, let’s face it: A city in the light of its growing number of expats, who have chosen to come and live here, or Bulgarians themselves returning to their home town and country. A willingness to keep shaping the old town, to make it come alive through art, festivals and events, to spray-paint it with some very original works of street art graffiti. Beyond me, I walk on the traces of an ancient Roman racing course, above me, I can see hipster coffee shops, modern boutique hotels, as well as countless shopping opportunities for the sought after Bulgarian yoghurt and rose oil. Must make a point of coming back for visiting the flower fields of the Bulgarian roses in bloom, an event said to be unique in its kind. That, and many more reasons, vouch for a return to Bulgaria as soon as possible.

Ein echtes Plädoyer für Plovdiv, sind meines Erachtens "Baukunstwerke" wie diese ...

Plovdiv, my dear: I’ll have to be back sooner rather than later to see and enjoy you …

 

... oder Stadtteile wie diese, die sich beständig wandeln

… to see district evolve under the promise of European culture …

 

... herrlich auch die Möglichkeit, sich dank

… to enjoy fun stuff, such as dressing at the “Retro Photo Old Plovdiv” studio like a typical Bulgarian …

 

... wir sagen DANKE, Plovdiv ...

… THANK YOU, Plovdiv …

 

... und versprechen, auch schon bald wieder zu kehren, nicht wahr, liebe Paula?!

… and promise to be back again soon, right, Paula?!

 

Check out even more of my travel photography here:

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Yonka Bakardhzieva-Agalova as well as the cities of Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv, Troyan and Veliko Tarnovo on this #CreativeBulgaria trip. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Travel through Bulgaria: Troyan, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo & meeting all those local artisans.
Bed & Breakfast Krappel in Rohrendorf near Krems: Staying with Gerda & Christian in Lower Austria.

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