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August 14, 2005

Forts and Feta

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Velko Tarnovo, Bulgaria:

Although I didn't make it out of the hotel until 2:30 I liked Velko Tarnovo almost instantly. With plenty of relaxed outdoor cafes, many of them overlooking the large green gorge that extends below its steep hills, it was a tranquil break from a European trip that until then had been filled with stops in only larger cities. After a walk through some of the cobblestoned pedestrian streets I stopped for lunch at a restaurant just next to my hotel. Its menu was enormous, which led me to expect very little, but the meal I had was one of the best I remember since getting into Europe. A "salad" appetizer featured just as much meat and cheese as it did vegetables: egg, fried chunks of bacon and breaded and fried fresh feta cheese sat on top of some tomatos, onions and cucumber, mixed in with crushed walnut. The main course consisted of an enormous grilled meatball stuffed with mushrooms, cheese, pickles and chili peppers and accompanied by two traditional "Macedonian-style meat-fingers." With a beer and a tip, the whole thing came to about $8.

I spent a few hours after that wandering through the maze of steep cobblestone streets and over to Tsarvets Fortress. A fortified bridge took me over the gorge below and past the main gate. From there I was able to see an assortment of ruins, some over 1,000 years old, built by various civilizations including the Thracians, Romans and Turks over the centuries. A walk along the ramparts allowed views of the town of Velko and the valley lying below.

It started to rain in the early evening, which gave me an excuse to stay in my spot under an umbrella-covered cafe table drinking coffees. After a few hours a brief lull in the weather let me get back to the same restaurant for dinner, where I had a stew with meatballs, sausage, egg, cheese and even a few vegetables thrown in as an afterthought. When I got out again there was a little light left but the rain and wind were almost violently intense and so I stayed in an internet cafe and caught up on needed blog time for while.

I didn't do much in Velko that day but I did see the main sight there and eat extremely well.

Posted by Joshua on August 14, 2005 06:26 PM
Category: Bulgaria
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