May 28, 2016: Tarnovo Old Town

We all slept in a bit today.  We are tired from all of the travelling and it is a comfortable apartment.  It took a while to get the kids up and out.

We started with a walk to the old town.  We screwed this up and took a really difficult way that led us down and back up with a ton of tough walking and a relatively tourist free experience, which was probably good in the long run.  Had we known how the city was laid out vertically we would have walked a completely different way and been in the old town in a fraction of the time without so much effort.  But we would not have seen so much, either.

We ended up finding a cool taverna early on our walk.  It catered enough to tourists to be easy to deal with but was clearly as much for the locals as for tourists which was nice that this was real Bulgarian food, too.  We were the only non-locals in the place but our waiter spoke English well.  This was the tavern of the Hotel Gurko, although we never found the hotel.  The taverna had some great views, too.  The whole of the old town has amazing views.  What a gorgeous city.

Lunch was very good.  The girls really enjoyed the fact that several cats inhabited the restaurant and were under our feet the entire time.  Then we filmed some videos outside and were off for more walking to try to figure out how to get to the big tourist street of the old town.

Eventually we found it and we put in an hour or so slowly going from shop to shop being traditional tourists and shopping for all kinds of things.  We found a cool antique shop and got new handmade purses for the girls and each of them picked out an antique Bulgarian pin, as well.  They are very excited about their purses.

Liesl and Luciana and their new bags

Down the street farther we found a candy store that made their own candies.  Everyone got something.  The girls each got a hard candy lollipop thing.  I got the best meringue that I have ever had.  it was two meringues with vanilla icing holding them together and rolled in chopped walnuts.  It was amazing.

It was a very hot day.  We have been used to cooler weather but it is nearly summer and we are nearly down to Greece again at this point and the sun way out without a cloud in the sky and we were really cooking today.

We found a little cafe place on the main stretch and stopped there for some awesome, light refreshing drinks while the girls played on a little playground that they had there.

While we were at the cafe, and we were probably there for an hour and a half, a woman with a four year old boy was hanging out on the playground with Liesl and Luciana.  They made friends with her and introduced her to us.  She was actually from California but had, long ago, married a Bulgarian and they were here in the country for five months so that their son could get used to the area and learn the language and culture while he was young enough to absorb it.

We ended up hanging out.  Then her sister joined us who has been visiting Bulgaria for a week or two.  And her husband and her sister’s boyfriend joined us as well.  We ended up hanging out for a while and managed to exchange contact information.  We’ve made a lot of new friends this week.

New Friend in Bulgaria

After the cafe we continued shopping and Dominica managed to find a purse that she really liked.  She had been planning to be shopping for one; it was not an impulse purchase.  We also got some of the best gelato that we’ve had in months.

We found a restaurant on the tourist stretch that looked good that we did for dinner.  Food was good.  The place was incredibly busy.  Many hundreds of people in the restaurant.  Hard to believe that a restaurant so big would exist in Tarnovo.

After dinner we returned to the apartment.  Everyone was tired after a long day of walking and the sun was really wearing on us.  We went the “right way” back and found that getting to and from the old town to our apartment was really easy.  We also found a steamed corn stand along the road and stopped and got a big thing of corn for the girls to eat.

It was dark when we got back and everyone was ready for bed pretty early on.  Today was exhausting and we expect the same again tomorrow as we want to go to see the famous local fortress and that is going to be a lot of walking out in the sun as well.