First stop after picking up from airport, a nice cup of tea :)
Then it was a first try at our new Mackie D's in VT. We were all very disappointed! The food was luke warm verging on cold (which is how Bulgarian's eat their food) & just tasted off somehow, not off gone off just not nice!At long last my mum made it over to stay with us, no mean feat as she has been really poorly for the last 6 yrs & at almost 87 has a need for new knees. My mum is fantastic, she has baffled not only her family, friends & all who know her but the doctors & specialists over the last yrs :D Anyway more of mum in her own blog at some point.
The weather started off badly when mum arrived, we were very concerned, but then Bulgaria welcomed her back with gorgeous days full of sunshine & very little rain or storms, they tend to pass us by :D Mum has been here many times but only to the coast so this was her first foray to the interior. Glad to say she LOVES it & can't get over the beauty & how green it is.
We had a great month but as happens here for some reason time goes so quickly, really, I mean it gallops by much faster than it ever did in the UK? One month is the equivalent to one UK week, it's very weird, so before we knew it we were driving back to Sofia airport with a heavy heart :(
There was lots of social events for us this month so mum got to meet all our closest friends from five different countries. We were able to do a little sight seeing & had a few meals out as well as a few parties, but the very best time of all were just me & my mum in the garden reading books & sunbathing :D Mum read four novels while she was here so very relaxed! I can't wait for her return hopefully for her birthday in August!
In the time mum was here flowers have come & gone & Bulgaria has come to life where there was none. This includes the grape vines which when she arrived were bare & before she left were covered in bunches of small grapes :D The Iris's were just green leaves then they gave a wonderful display & when mum went the peony's Orange Lillie's & roses were all out to say goodbye. Mum even got to witness the ploughing up of the back field & the planting of out tomatoes, squashes & veggies. So far this year we were well behind but have planted said toms, beetroot, lettuce, rocket, bean bushes, chives, pumpkin, chilli peppers, butternut squash, water melon, melon, pumpkin, courgette/marrow, cucumber & peppers. Probs already are a lot of stuff is being eaten. The bean bushes are disappearing & the chives have disappeared! we will have to see what survives but I would imagine its caterpillars? The tomatoes, chill, peppers, egg plants & corgettes are doing really well as are the grapes but only one cherry tree is showing good fruit one tree's fruit is dying as we watch, & my morrello is showing almost bare :( next year we will have to spray them all unfortunately!
Yovo & Pavlinka have been waiting for years to meet my mum so they lined up a meal at theirs for their celebration of St Georges day. This is a day also celebrated by all with the name George or Giorgiev (their surname) & on this day you will see the towns full of people eating & drinking with family & friends & the parks will be host to lots of families enjoying the holiday.
Elena, rabbit ears & Galya, white hair, are our Russian friends everyone else was Bulgarian & all treated mum like a queen.
These were meant to be ducklings but turned out to be Geese :D Cute as though!
Mum was well chuffed to see our local Stork complete with partner & entourage of small birds who do the housekeeping for them. No babies as yet though.
The Queen Mum :)That 70's Party.......
Norman celebrated his 70th while mum was here so we all went out for a meal in Veliko Tarnovo. Bev & Norm had never been before as they live in another area so it was special & we all had a very good time at the "Happy Man" then moved next door to the new Ego for drinks after. Norman has kissed the blarney stone, being Irish, & always has us in stitches, so much laughter, fun & story telling was had by all :D This was a lovely pre celebration as the main event was a 70's themed party on the following Saturday.
Welcome to the house of fun.......
The dancing Bulgarian chef
The good ole boat song! Memories of the friday club when I was 15 :)
The next party was for Yovo's brother over in Pechinovo. We met the georgievs over Polski Trambesh for drinks before going over & it was the first time she had met Svetlana. They all loved mum, I think also they can't get over that she came all that way on her own at her age :)
Love these people they look very stern but are really teddy bears :D
The Bulgarians seem to have a holiday for everything & more, so I was able to take mum to the village Alphabet holiday concert. We have a theatre in Vinograd which holds all sorts of concerts. We have even had famous pop folk singers here complete with false boobs, lips, cheeks, lipo sucked to an inch of their lives & botoxed up to the hilt! The concert started with singing by children & then the teachers etc but the best bit was the dancing by the kids, brilliant! I was so pleased mum got to experience the real folk which is taught to all children & kept alive by all adults! I love the fact that everyone knows all the songs & dances & if you ask any Bulgarian about their past they know the lot! All the names dates & battles are imprinted in their memory!
The theatre was full & everyone was cheering & whistleling their appreciation after each set. I love the way they all come together to support each other & the little children were very professional & VERY good. No shyness here! I was struck by the difference to things children put on in the UK & how they are shy & not sure what they are doing. Here the children (all ages) loved being part of the show. I wondered is it because there are no expectations loaded on them just a time to enjoy themselves? The audience joined in for what they considered special songs & off course for the anthem. We had a great time & felt very uplifted when we left :)
We held a BBQ with Bulgarian, English, Polish & Russian friends. Proud to say us English were in the minority :) I don't think its right when we move here but only seek out brit friends, how wrong is that! I have met many an ex pat who do not have Bulgarian friends & don't socialise outside of the brits they have met on facebook! Now I don't pooh pooh having expat friends on FB but still prefer to mix with locals after all this is why we moved here!!!!! In fact the English friends we have, we have met through FB & after sorting out the nutters (yes many, many out there) we have a nice little group but I always mix our parties & I know Yovo loves meeting Foreign people. There are a few more English people on FB that I would like to meet & I hope one day we will add to our friends but we are also adding more & more Bulgarian & Russian friends as we go :):):)
Chef Nigel, boozing??????
We had been out for a few meals in Veliko Tarnovo & had had coffee so mum could view Tsaravets but there were many things I wanted to show her & as Bev & Norman hadn't been there, just the once for a meal, we all spent the day after the BBQ sightseeing around VT.
First stop the local potters. I had already taken mum there as its my favourite place to browse & I wanted to show Bev. I love supporting local Bulgarians & these are lovely people. The pottery is made on the premises & sold in the garden area. I spend my time looking at all the different dishes & have recently had bought for me a wonderful hanging basket full of petunias. The flowers are in a plain pot with scalloped top which is then inside a traditionally painted larger pot which hangs & a smallish casserole pot. Bev found a large garden pot full of begonias which is on a stand & now looks quite regal on one of her balconies. I purchased two small painted pots with dishes with a small succulent in each one has handles, my new fav possessions. I would love to show photo's but my camera is broken but if you are ever in this area please seek it out & buy a little something to help support them, they have little things from 1 lev :) My mum purchased quite a few items & received a medium pot containing a chilli plant inside, I now own this ;)
I was very keen to show them our local monastery. Its very high up & is in the process of being renovated. We went there with my son & his friend 2 years ago & could not get into the church but found it all very fascinating. This time it was open & the beauty of some of the fresco's have been revealed after being covered by soot from the wood burning heating. It was difficult terrain for my mum but there was plenty of help with Nigel & Norman lifting her up & down steps. the views are spectacular & on another day it would have been fantastic but this day was overcaste & showery so much was hidden but the beauty of the area & the church were well worth the effort & pain mum went through to see it (her poor knees).
You do have to pay to go in the church but it is a minimal payment of a couple of lev's & well worth it.
Buliding started 1834 & finished 1861
"The wheel of life" on the facade of the church
We lit candles in memory of my brother Tony
Here you can see some of the paintings that have been restored
Some of the residential buildings
Residential buildings destroyed by rock fall, Norman is wondering.....
The weather had cleared nicely so it was over to Arbanasi for a spot of lunch & a well deserved cup of tea . Yep told you it was a sightseeing day, all very touristy :D.
I love Arbanasi its a restored village, there is a long history for it but it eventually became a settlement of rich merchants. The houses are huge fully walled gardens & beautiful wood architecture. Many houses look like mini monastery's & in fact there are many churches & monastery's in this little village & some houses you can also look around, all at a price obviously. Progress has seen Arbanasi almost fully restored but with this progress has seen it turned into a tourist destination with hotels & restaurants outnumbering residences, all very sad! When you go for lunch you will see many coaches full of Italian, Dutch, German, Russian etc. There are some lovely little cafe/restaurants here though all authentic & a hotel we would recommend for a meal is Villa Izvora. Its in a lovely setting & for 5 lev you can use their swimming pool for the day sun bathing etc, they do gorgeous roast lamb :D Just ask anyone & they will direct you. All that said & sadness on what has happened to Arbanasi I still adore it, Nigel doesn't like it as he see's just a tourist destination but it not over run with people so it doesn't put me off. Unfortunately its hilly & cobbly so no one saw much of it but we had a good rest & soaked up the atmosphere while eating outside :)
After lunch it was off to Veliko Turnovo, or Turnovgrad (town of Turnovo)the first Bulgarian capital. I love, love, love this town. It's why we moved to this area. It has everything & is steeped in thousands of years of history. VT is very cosmopolitan too & has developed a wonderful cafe culture amongst its historic roads & buildings. I dare you not to fall in love with it!!! It is reminiscent of Italy with its houses built on slopes leading down to the river, surrounded by mountainous rocks with ancient caves where once people dwelt. i could go on & on, as is my want ;D
Our first stop on our mini sightseeing trip to VT was a coffee break while we took in the views & sights of Tsaravets. Situated at the foot of Tsaravets hill is a newish restaurant where you can take in the scenery of Tsaravets castle, Trapezita hill & the churches in Assens quarter. Its lovely here again a bit touristy but not over run (yet). there was no way mum would be able to make it around the sights here so this is a perfect spot for people to get a sense of the past. It was then on to the fully operational church, that am ashamed to say I do not know the name of.
It's a beauty & situated just up from Tsaravets castle. I wanted mum to see a church which wasn't just a restored building but one that is open for worship all day every day, no payment to get in. While we were there she got to see the rituals people do & even though mum is an atheist or an agnostic I'm still not sure, she loved it & felt peaceful :) It took it out of her getting up & down the steps but yet again worth it, I hope.
Next stop, yep another cafe/restaurant. Another favourite of ours. We have spent many hours here eating & drinking while people watching & my fav shop is here too :)
It's situated at the top of Georgi Sava Rakovski Street, once called Samovodene Marketplace. Its a cobbled street of shops with many craftsmen creating their wares while you can watch (& buy). Blacksmiths, Coppersmiths, gunsmiths, potters, confectioners, sausage makers , rug makers an antique shop & a religious painting shop. near by is the "Monkey House" so called because it has a monkey sitting on the facade!
Its a special street one we have stayed in before (before we moved in). My friend & agent has a wonderful old merchant house i this street which she has renovated & lets out short term. It is situated right opposite the copper man & we were awoke every morning EARLY by his banging :D He makes gorgeous vessels of all types. sadly we couldn't get mum up there but again she soaked up the atmosphere & had a nice rest, then managed to see a couple of shops. My favourite shop there is full of expensive pottery & wonderful paintings. I own a set of mugs from here but there are many things I want but finances do not allow at this present time :( I needed a tea pot as my hands have become so weak that I cannot lift the one we had. Unfortunately I couldn't justify spending to get one I really wanted from here but found a lovely traditionally decorated pottery one a couple of doors down for 11 leva bargain :)
By the time we had finished I could see everyone was tired so guess what we did next? Yep over to Ego's for dinner :D:D:D Inside looking out over the river Yantra from up high on the slopes of the hills that VT is built on, lovely!!!!!
That was the end of our month as mum went home a couple of days later. We had a great time & I know she loved it here. I just hope she makes it back again soon. Love you mum xxxxxx
Wow this took a looooong time to finish!