It rained last night. Thankfully, most of the showers stopped when we woke up and we stared outside at the overcast skies, planning out our route for the day.
Everything is so peaceful out here in the countryside
Our lackadaisical pace around Eastern Europe is now butting up against some pre-scheduled dates on the calendar. It would have been nice to stay a day or two here in Buynovo, to enjoy the peace and quiet and nature.
Our hostess bids a farewell to us as we leave her tiny village
The plan for the day is to ride the length of the gorge road and take in the scenery
The Buynovo Gorge is the longest one in Bulgaria. It was carved out of the limestone over several millenia and now boasts several pools, waterfalls and caves. None of which we're going to see because we're riding, riding, riding today!
The road is narrow and the pavement is uneven, but the tall walls of the gorge make for an awesome ride as we follow the twists and turns of the river
At times the road rises and we can peek over the edge at the water below. Until we hit a tunnel carved into the rock. Cool!
The gorge is so narrow at one point the top of the canyon walls almost touches above the road. The narrowest point is called "Wolf's Leap" because legend has it that wolves jump across the chasm here to attack sheep pens on the other side.
The Buynovo Gorge road is less than 30kms long, but it's a one way road, so we turn back and start heading north.
Stopping on the way back
Enjoying the marvelous scenery
A little video of our ride down the gorge
On the road, we see more Disney castle missile silos
Shops and stalls in the little villages that we ride through
Damp roads out of Southern Bulgaria
Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second-largest city and is about three hours north of Buynovo. We are making a pit stop here just to sleep before we head further north.
We are staying in a nice quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Plovdiv
The owner of our AirBnB place lets us park in the garden
The next morning, we are all suited up and ready to head out. The owner snaps a pic of us.
It's so nice to be able to get a picture of the two of us together. It's so rare.
We debated about whether to leave without seeing the city. It's so closeby and the weather is really nice today. So at the last minute we ride into town, stash our riding gear and take a quick walk around town.
Fountain in front of Plovdiv City Hall
Such a funny sounding name to English speakers: Plovdiv. I found out that it's named after Philip the Arab, a Roman Emperor who named the city after himself. Philip + Deva (city) became Plovdiv after several iterations of translations.
Pedestrian street, downtown Plovdiv
And then, we stumble across this...
We don't make a point of only visiting cities and ruins with Roman amphitheaters in them. Honestly! It just turns out that the Roman Empire spread out pretty much everywhere in Europe. And everywhere they went they built an amphitheater. And the most beautiful one they built was in Pula, Croatia.
I think they uncovered this amphitheater after the modern city was built on top of it. They've integrated it well into the city.
You can see in the background: another Disney castle missile silo. I wonder if Walt Disney fashioned his iconic castle after Bulgarian architecture.
Well, that was a nice tour. I'm glad that we got to see the contrast between the big city and the rural areas in Bulgaria
In the picture above, I point out the same sign I've seen all over Russia and other Slavic countries. "Look Neda, Pectopaht!"
"Pectopaht" is actually "Restaurant" in Cyrillic. It amuses Neda to no end whenever I say this, because that's not how she reads it in her head. It's like saying "Kah-now-led-gee" to an English person.... "Do you mean 'knowledge'?"
But enough of the language lessons. It's time now to head further north. New country! And towards one of the best riding roads on Earth! Stay tuned!
On the way out, we make a game out of spotting the national vehicle of Bulgaria. They're everywhere!