Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Week in Plovdiv - World's Oldest Continually Occupied City

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Our drive from Pamporovo was beautiful.  There was a bit of new snow, the sky was bright blue with not a cloud to be seen, and we followed the river downstream most of the way, winding through small villages, monasteries, and Roman sites.  We took notes along the way for day trips later in the week.  It took us two hours to reach the valley far below and then another hour across the Bulgarian plain and into Plovdiv.  Once in the city, it was a snap to find our home for the next week.  We booked a small two room apartment at the back of a family owned commerical building...two blocks from the main pedestrian street and minutes to just about every historical and local site.  The whole place was decorated in the Art Kitsch style...this gal knows her thrift stores...and it was cute, comfortable and perfectly outfitted for our extended enven had a PIANO!


We settled in and located the nearest grocery store...just a few blocks away.  A short walk restocked us for the week and we relaxed the rest of the day.

Our first full day in the city took in the Free Walking Tour.  Done by the same folks as in Sofia, we met our guide and for the next three hours we toured the "TRAP," the arts and crafts neighborhood.  It is called the "TRAP" because in the early 1800s this where the vendors all had their shops, there were only two entrances to the area, and the streets were constructed in such a way so that once you got in, you had a hard time getting out...and spent lots of money.  Sound familiar.  And we thought that this was a NEW idea...LOL.  There we participated in a few silly projects making a key ring and wood burning the maze of streets on a piece of wood.  We visited a coffee roaster and took photos of the amazing street art that has been photographed, cataloged and classified as city treasures.  These are some of the few public mural paintings in the world to gain this type of local protection.

 We have become 365 Geeks, the 365 Organization is a non-profit that puts on the free tours.  Although in reality they aren't so free since most tip the guides handsomely.  This is our fellow for today and we did another free tour of the historic sites.  He is a law student and a real talker.
A model of the stadium, mostly still intact but under the city streets and not excavated becuase it would mean tearing down most of downtown's high end shopping district.  This part was exposed an made into a visitor site...very cool... 

More street art.
 Streets of the old town winding up to the top of one of the seven hills of Plovdiv.

Several historical preserved homes we would tour in a few days. 

Church tower. 

Top of the hill overlooking the city below. 

Entrance to the Roman theather only discovered and unearthed 30 years ago.  Magnificent. 

Wall sculpture done in carved plaster. 
 We took a day off and lounged around the house.  Then we spent an afternoon driving back into the canyons and visited Assen's Fortress, a ruin from the 13th century and it's really nice church.

 Today we visited several of the historic homes.  This one had been restored and was the home of the ethnographic museum.  A nice collection of cultural artifacts were on display.

Ladies belt buckles...and we thought American rodeo stars had that market. 

Bulgarian embroidery.  Unique geometric designs. 

We prowled the streets. 

Two of the additional homes we toured.  Such big cold...not heat and NO FIREPLACES.  In their day they were heated using copper bowls filled with hot coals from the hot house separate from the home...and you can figure out why...the homes are all wood. 

A local artist on display.  Very Van Gogh.

Turkish styled hamman indoors.

We visited the stadium once more.  It held 30,000 spectators.

One of the hills with its monument to a Bulgarian tsar. 

Our last two days were spent visiting the local cinema where we were the only people in the theater to see "Robin Hood."   The rest of our time was spent lounging, watching a few Netflix movies, and taking some neighborhood walks.  We even splurged and had dinner out...QUITE AN EVENT FOR a restaurant called the "Happy Grill" that featured really decent beef...and Bobbie was a "happy girl."

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