Bulgaria, a travel destination that continues to evoke something special in me. Starting from my open fascination for the historic capital city of Sofia, I would like to take you further this time. Further into the countryside. Right into where I believe lies the heart and soul of Bulgaria, its many different cultural landscapes shaped over the course of centuries, its people & traditions. On the one hand side, this involves meeting lots and lots of active artisans & craftspeople, who we have come across as extremely active even now during the low travel season, in either open air museums, city centres, or “Craft Streets” – you name it. On the other hand side, it’s the country’s delicious food & drinks culture, exemplified by the ultimately creamy Bulgarian yoghurt as well as the nation’s drink Raki, of course, the ubiquitous plum brandy. Raki, by the way, is usually served before, during AND after a meal, so prepare for a good intake of Bulgarian hospitality on your journey throughout the country …!
But alcohol is, of course, not all what Bulgaria is about.
… and yes, I can only recommend you to visit this part of Bulgaria, as much for its culture as for its nature. Trojan, as well as the entire surrounding area, is gifted in terms of natural attractions, and has a host of natural springs, the Central Balkan National Park, as well as countless other options for excursions and cultural visits. I vow to come back at some stage, having only touched the surface in the little time we spent here.
So where are all of these places located: Troyan, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo …?
All three cities are well connected among each other, as well as with the capital city Sofia, and there is virtually a guarantee for you to fall in love with the surrounding landscapes, picturesque as you go. In this context, I have to say that I particularly fell for …
… Veliko Tarnovo. The medieval town, together with its famous Tsarevets Fortress, seems to be right out of a Game of Thrones film set …
… and this although I’m not even such a fan of the series myself 😉 but yet: Veliko Tarnovo has this thing with me. The city’s location high up on a mountain, “hugged” by the river Yantra in a nearly complete embrace, is straight out of a fairytale. Historically, Veliko Tarnovo is known as the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Empire; today still, you will find it home to many different mansions and building styles, complete with a whole host of artisans & craftspeople as well as a “Sound & Light Show” that is perhaps among the top in Europe. Really. I have never seen anything quite like it: Mapping projections yes, in places such as Sharjah or the city of Girona perhaps. But to see an entire hill and historical fortress illuminated, music, light and all? You really ought to see this once in your life!
Last but not least: Let’s go, Gabrovo!
Gabrovo, located right in the heart of Bulgaria, has really received us well. Together with my international colleagues, we were invited to speak at the city’s Creative Tourism Forum on 2 March, 2018, including a speech I gave about working with the travel media, and online communication strategies in creative tourism. I really, really enjoyed speaking in Bulgaria, apart from my cultural trip around the country! What I took from Gabrovo, is that people really seem to love partying here: We even received tea bags that bear caricatures of the local mayor! And I don’t see the Bulgarians lacking behind their German counterparts either, when it comes to typical carnival celebrations …
Bulgaria, for me, is above all one thing: True hospitality at every turn. Couple this with the fact that you will see fascinating traces of European cultural history, in a context that is lively and modern at the same time, you have a pretty good picture of what present-day Bulgaria is and can be about.
Definitely a travel destination to put on your agenda!
And you, when will you travel to Bulgaria?
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.