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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?

Travel through Bulgaria: Troyan, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo & meeting all those local artisans.


Creative Travel, Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, Travel Videos, Bulgaria, Europe, Travel Blog , , 0

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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.

However …

... der Genuss selbigens schon an der Tagesordnung steht:

… enjoying typical Raki, such as at Restaurant Merak here, near the city of Trojan about two hours’ drive from Sofia, can be a real part of the country’s cultural experience …

 

... "für mich nur ein bisschen, bitte!", scheint Silvia hier zu sagen!

… “just a little bit for me, please!”, Silvia seems to say here!

 

Ganz sympathisch ist im Anschluss der Ausflug in

I really enjoyed visiting the National Arts & Crafts Centre in Trojan, in a tiny town called Oreshak, showcasing Bulgarian ceramic art from all over the country …

 

... in dem Besucher ebenso angehalten sind, selbst Hand anzulegen und ihre eigene Keramik zu gestalten!

… you are also encouraged to create your very own piece of ceramic here with the help of the local artists!

 

Vielen Dank Ivan Chakarov für den Besuch! Haltet Euch an Ivan, den Museumsdirektor, wenn Ihr hier seid: Er spricht sehr gut Deutsch und kennt sich hier wirklich gut aus.

Thank you so much, Ivan Chakarov (picture on the right), for showing us around your museum!

 

Right next to the Crafts Centre, is the third-largest monastery of Bulgaria, the Monastery of Trojan, beautifully covered in snow as we visit during late February.

 

Auch hier empfängt uns der Ordensbruder Stefan mit hausgemachtem Raki und weiteren, regionalen Köstlichkeiten in überaus großzügiger Gastfreundschaft ...

Here, too, Stefan the Orthodox monk receives us to a truly warm, personal welcome followed by typical Raki from the area …

 

… 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 …?

Check out the following map highlighting a possible travel itinerary throughout Central Northern Bulgaria:

 

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!

Die Lichtershow, bei der die berühmte bulgarische Tsarevets-Festung zur Gänze illuminiert wird,

I shall remember this fantastic light & sound show for many months, even years, to come.

 

Auch tagsüber lohnt die Stadt den Besuch ...

During the day, Veliko Tarnovo is of course worth the visit too …

 

... finden sich neben alten Fundstücken und historischer Glanzzeiten ...

… and next to historical anecdotes and evidence …

 

... durchaus aktive ...

… you can see many active …

 

... und sehr sympathische Handwerkskünstler, die gerne auch mal Kreativ-Reisende in Form eines Workshops bei sich aufnehmen.

… and engaged craftspeople working right in the city centre, likely taking up participants for creative workshops as well: All you need to bring is a bit of time, patience, and curiosity for developing your craft with them!

 

Wir widmen uns in unserer Neugier ..

Our passion for discovery …

 

... mal wieder dem Erkunden dieser kleinen Kirche hier in Abranasi ...

… leads us to exploring further little treasures, such as this Nativity Church in Abranasi …

 

... wo uns abends diese Familie zum Essen nach Hause einlädt :

… or eating at the local family’s home near Veliko Tarnovo, which is organised through the city’s tourism office: As authentic as it gets for experiencing true Bulgarian dinner culture.

 

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 …

Unsere Unterkunft, das Hotel ... mit angeschlossenem Restaurant, ist übrigens auch wirklich empfehlenswert ...

Our accommodation, Hotel Fenerite and its adjacent restaurant, is a great tip for basing yourself near the city of Gabrovo …

 

... und schließlich und letztendlich habe ich hier nun auch das Foto des berühmten bulgarischen Yoghurts für Euch ...

… and here it is, the “long-promised” picture of delightfully creamy, Bulgarian yoghurt …

 

... über dessen Cremigkeit uns dieser charmante, junge Milchbauer Martin

… young farmer Martin and his factory visit “Istrum”, right near Hotel Fenerite, tell us more about the secret of Bulgarian yoghurt.

 

Neben der Stadt Gabrovo selbst ...

Next to the city of Gabrovo itself …

 

... in der sich aktuell wie auch anderswo alles nach dem Frühling reckt ...

…  where everybody is desperate for spring …

 

... lohnt auch der Besuch des Freilichtmuseum "ETAR" ...

… you should go and see the open air museum “ETAR” …

 

... der Geschmack frischen Brotes ...

… where I still recall the smell of freshly baked bread …

 

... die Gespräche mit dem Ikonenmalkünstler ...

… the opportunity to meet the many talented, local artists …

 

... oder das sprichwörtliche "Über-Die-Schulter-Schauen-Können" des jungen

… as well as getting to know the young ones and their up and coming creations.

 

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.

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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!
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1 Comment

  1. Hermann Paschinger

    An Bulgarien, Gabrovo und Veliko Tarnovo habe ich schöne Erinnerungen von früheren Seminaren!

    Reply

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