Waking up earlier than the crow of the cockerel on day four in Bulgaria with VisitBulgariaOn, we managed to rustle up a coffee and a sandwich for our early departure. Turning left out of our complex, we spotted half a dozen deer dancing across the road and disappearing into the murky gloom of the forest, too quickly for me to be able to shoot them… with my camera.
The journey to Teteven was pretty uneventful until we started the climb into the Stara Planina mountains, which divides north Bulgaria from its sister in the south. The route was incredibly spectacular and a little bit scary. Hristo, my host and driver, decided that this was the moment to talk about the 10 scariest roads in the world.
The journey wasn’t so far in distance terms; however; due to the hairpin turns and lack of overtaking places it took us 3 hours to reach our destination of Teteven for a meeting with the deputy Mayor and his aids.
After pleasantries and coffee, we were shown around the local museum. A wonderful young lady made our walk in the museum pleasant with information and the passion she put into her routines.
Our lunch was basic and what the Bulgarians eat – the so-called kebabche which is a long rounded grilled meat.
We took a walk to see one of the local attractions called the eco path to the waterfall. This should have been around a three hour walk but due to time constraints we cheated and took a jeep most of the way.
The walk itself is set between two steep cliffs, keeping the sun at bay. There was still ice in some parts of the stream that we were following.
Then, we were explained about the power of the pure mountain water by the local professor Ignatov and the longevity in Bulgaria. His findings and proposals were absolutely fantastic and the health tourism in Bulgaria could become a niche in the market.
The next part of our road trip was to Gabrovo and a two hour drive away. Gabrovo is famous for 3 things in Bulgaria, the first is that it is akin to Manchester in the UK for starting the Industrial Revolution the second for its reputation for being a satirical and humorous town. The third makes Gabrovo one of the leading festival cities in Bulgaria with authentic and funny events they organize.
This museum was utterly modern and interactive with actual interactive guides that can speak five different languages and you control what you see by swiping invisible sensors. The museum centers on it’s heritage as being the birth place of the Bulgarian Industrial Revolution, the diverse amount of manufacturing that centers there, from gunpowder, small arms, textile, lifting equipment etc. I even exploded a bomb in the museum, wonderful attraction!
To my utter astonishment, we were given branded t-shirts with the Gabrovo slogan and festival logo which we proudly donned and then went to merge with the crowd. We briefly visited a few churches and then a walk around town taking in the oldest bridge in Bulgaria.
Although Gabrovo has a small population of just over 40,000, it came across to me as a vibrant town with plenty of things going on all the time. That evening, there was a rock concert being held in the centre of town. It turned out to be a decent gig and a hidden gem with lots of beer being, Bulgaria’s version of hot dogs, and Kufte.
We headed to the number one restaurant in Gabrovo called Rest and I enjoyed a 3-course meal including a chicken soup, it seems pretty popular in Bulgaria, vegetable curry which was stunning, and a large portion of fish and chips. It was absolutely delicious with a pint of Bulgarian beer.
A 5 km taxi ride took us back to the hotel for less than $2.00 and we arrived at the best hotel in Gabrovo called MAK, which means poppy. After a long day filled with new experiences, it wasn’t long before I was asleep.