Monthly Archives: July 2006

Relaxing in a Beautiful Country

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We’ve been a little lax on the blogging lately – apologies. We’ve just been enjoying our surroudings – a lot.

So we did the day trip to the API Call ErrorRila Monastery from Sofia. It was a long day. The monastery is certainly beautiful, but we weren’t able to go and see ‘behind the scenes’, so to speak. Not at all like the sort of living museum set up of the monasteries at Meteora in Greece. So we saw the API Call Errorbeautiful church, and one of the museums that was all in Bulgarian, and contained mostly crosses, and a few robes, a few books, a little of this and that. Not quite what we were expecting. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, though. I can see why hiking is such a popular activity in Bulgaria – there’s hardly any scrap of land that isn’t scenic and breathtaking. Well, cities aside. It is possible to stay at this monastery, but we didn’t look into it. Dunno why, we just didn’t.

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Churches and a Communist Legacy

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We’ve been travelling around Bulgaria for a few days now. After Plovdiv, we headed for the smallish city of API Call ErrorSamokov, which is very close to the Rila mountains. Our goal in heading there was to spend a bit of time outside and rest up a bit. We were very impressed with the city, which wasn’t very touristy at all, but still had english menus in the restaurants. Unfortunately there was limited hotel space and we could only stay 2 nights, before some outdoor group came that had everything booked up. So we spent our one full day there visiting the nearby ski resort of Borovetz, where we did some hiking. It was amazing the difference in price between Samokov and Borovetz, which are only about a 10 minute drive apart, as our lunch in Borovetz, which wasn’t very good, cost more than breakfast and API Call Errordinner combined in Samokov. Samokov itself isn’t overly remarkable, except for the historical tidbit that it was the site of Bulgaria’s first commune, founded in 1909.

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It’s Opposite Day

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We’ve now arrived in Bulgaria, where we’re currently staying in the second large city, at a pleasant 300,000 people, Plovdiv. There’s a fantastic API Call Errorold city here, though not super old, as most of it was built up in the 19th century, during what’s referred to as the Bulgarian National Revival Period, which seems to come up quite often in the list of things to see here. There’s a API Call Errordistinct style of building from this period, where the second floor juts out past the first floor, and is supported by curved beams underneath, and then the outside is painted with what look like classical architecture features (columns and the like) except that they’re just painted on.

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Beautiful City, but the plumbing could use some work

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Well, so far we’ve been having a great time in Istanbul. People are much friendlier than in Greece, and the API Call Errorsights are incredible.

I guess there’s not a whole lot to say. So far we’ve visited the API Call ErrorBlue Mosque and the Aya Sofya (Church of Divine Wisdom), which are both really spectacular, in their own way. The Blue Mosque is incredibly beautiful. The Aya Sofya seems a little dingy, but it’s incredible to think that the building is 1500 years old and would have been quite unlike any of its contemporaries. It’s API Call Errorunder restoration, so part of the interior is blocked off by scaffolding.

The most frustrating thing that’s happened here was yesterday afternoon, when, for no apparent reason, water throughout a sizable chunk of the city centre stopped running. Our hotel was included in the outage, which lasted from around noon until sometime after we’d gone to bed around midnight. It lead to the new experience of using bottled water to flush a toilet, which was necessary to keep our bathroom usable. Luckily the store across the street did have giant 10L jugs for sale which did the trick. We were happy to wake up this morning and find the water running again, since we both definitely needed showers. It’s not all that hot here – high twenties – but it’s very sticky.

So that’s about it. We had big plans for today, but unfortunately my breakfast this morning must have had peanuts or something in it, so I’m not feeling so great, and we haven’t gotten anything done yet. More later.

Bye Bye Greece, Hello Istanbul

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Since our last post, we spent 2 nice quiet nights in API Call ErrorDelphi, the site of the famous API Call ErrorTemple of Apollo. The ruins were much the same as many that we’ve already seen, but each site still has something unique about it. There were a couple of buildings that were interesting, and an interesting stone wall. The downside was that though there is a little train that supposedly runs between the site and the town, we’re not convinced it actually goes to the site – we saw it several times around town, but not once on the trek to or from the site; so we ended up walking a fair bit more than we expected to. As a side note, we have both lost enough weight that our pants are too baggy!

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A Quick Update

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Well, we’ve spent the last couple of nights in Olympia. The town there was pleasant, and the API Call Errorarchaeological site was one of the best that we’ve seen in a long time, though we have some complaints about the way it’s operated that I won’t get into here. There’s enough in way of API Call Errorruins there to engage the imagination, and it’s large enough that the crowds are only a problem in a couple of API Call Errorpinch points, like the Olympic Stadium.

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Laidback Islands and City Crowds

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Well, we haven’t had much chance to blog since we’ve been in Greece. Unfortunately, affordable internet is a bit of a rarity, so usually by the time we’ve done our basic errands (check email, book hostels in next destination, etc.), we’ve already spend €12, and can’t take the time to write as well

Since the last entry, we’ve visited the islands of API Call ErrorMykonos and API Call ErrorNaxos, and have now spent 2 days in API Call ErrorAthens.

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