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103: Bachkovo Monastery+ Plovdiv. 2012/8/12

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[Interesting souvenir stands near Bachkovo Monastery = photo album]

Plovdiv has three bus stations, as do many Bulgarian cities.  This can be confusing to foreigner travelers, since the information online can be incomplete or dated, if there is anything at all.

When I woke up I felt like staying further in bed and maybe skip Bachkovo Monastery. After all it’s just another monastery, isn’t it? But eventually (after 5 seconds, that is) I made myself get out of the house and headed towards the bus station, which is not the Yug Bus Station I arrived in yesterday.

It doesn’t look far away, but somehow the related part of the map isn’t very accurate, and I ended up spending probably 15 minutes or 20.  Luckily I left both the travel guide and notebook in the hostel room.  This bus station is much newer and looks nice; I checked with a clerk about the schedule, and when she pointed to her computer screen I felt that I was right to try to learn Cyrillic by myself – everything on the screen was in Cyrillic.

The weather wasn’t sunny when I arrived, but the sky wasn’t too dark, and I found the air and light agreeable.  I spent quite some time observing closely the various vendor booths on the way to the monastery – it’s very interesting to see honey bottles with various types of different things in them, and there’re always some interesting souvenirs.

The monastery itself didn’t offer much.  The guard shouted at me and some others to stop taking photos IN THE COURTYARD, which is not the case in other Balkan monasteries I’ve visited.  Usually one can never take photos inside the monastery churches, but it should be no problem elsewhere.  Well, anyway.

Something which is usually not the case in other monasteries is that this one has no free toilets within;  the only one there was was outside, and I can’t expect exactly how clean that would be.  (The toilet I used in Rila Monastery was free of water flushes, soap and any kind of paper and was enjoyed by a bunch of flies.)

There’re some hiking trails behind the monastery.  I tried a bit, but after 10 minutes I gave up.  I was being lazy.

On the way back I saw a snack stand and decided to try.  There are some (very sweet) Turkish/ Middle Eastern snacks, and there’s something like 蔥油餅, to which jam can be added and turned out to be very chewy.  When I almost reached the main road, I also saw a stand selling some lotions.  100ml of “Anti Age Facial Cream for Men” costs only 2 BGN! That’s ridiculous, and I decided to take one with me, even though I still have facial cream in stock.

I waited for the bus back to Plovdiv for almost an hour.  Eventually a big bus came, instead of the kind of mini-bus I took this morning.

Back in Plovdiv center, this time I checked the tourist info, but the young clerk there, while not knowing where certain tourists are – are you kidding me? –, also couldn’t give any recommendations on cafés or restaurants.

I checked with one bookshop clerk about whether there’s a CD shop, and while that CD shop turned out to be closed, I found an interesting T-shirt in one of the many clothing shops.  (Strangely, unlike in Taiwan, the only tank tops I can fit in here are sized XL or bigger.  I certainly don’t think I have bulked up during the past three months!)

I walked through the entire shopping street and settled in a fine café, although the mostly techno music in this café-bar got increasingly louder, and I decided to leave after two hours or so.  While I have been snacking too much (as I discovered this in a startling way when trying out some clothes earlier in the shop) and don’t need to eat anything for today, I saw a Doner-Kebab shop with a dozen of people lining up – now that’s not something one sees every day.  Well, a small/ big Doner costs respectively 2/ 4 BGN, and I decided to try.  After all, it’s my responsibility as a traveler to try foods, right? The taste showed exactly why there were so many people lining up – it’s very good, even though all the FRENCH FRIES added in it are guilty as sin.

Since I’ve eaten really enough, I stopped only to pay a compliment to the take-away cafeteria and to buy some more things for tomorrow.  I also stopped to make yet another internet call to Tz, but this time from a MacDonalds.

The hostel owner dropped by sometime after I returned, and to my surprise, he said that the “atmosphere (of talking with me)” was very nice, and he would like to see my country Taiwan someday.  And I thought we haven’t talked that much! Well, I guess at least he liked me as a person.

8/12記帳:1 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) = 18.99TWD; 1EUR = 1.96BGN
Plovdiv – Bachkovo公車:4?*2 = 8?


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