Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Travel update from Bulgaria

Greetings from Bulgaria .

I am in Plovdiv, which is the former capital of Bulgaria. I left Sofia which is the current capital after staying ther for a week. I will be here in Plovdid only a couple of days. Just checking out some ancient roman Ruins and then I will go to Varnas on the Black sea for some well deserved, and lonb put off beach time. This city is built on seven hill just like Rome. Perhaps this is why the Romans chose it for their regional capital 1,800 years ago. I am staying in the "old city" which is quaint and enjoyable. It is nice to stroll around the hilly streets on the cobbleston pedestrian walkways and to sit on the benches and whatch the people go by. Bulgaria is a cheap country. Hostel beds go for 20 lev per night which is about 10 euros or about 13 or 14US dollars.

The locals make excellent cheeses and yoghurt mostly from sheeps milk but some from cows as well. the yoghurt is quite good. I am developing a taste for sheep yogurt. They make a really good soup here sold chilled of fine chopped cucumbers and walnuts in a thinned down sheep yogurt which is cool and refreshing as well as delicious. The weather is quite hot here. about 30 degreees (88F) but here in Plovdiv it is a little cooler than Sofia where it was 32 to 36 degrees for the week I was there.

I had the strangest dream the other night . I dreamed that George Bush was the leader of the free world and that Dick Cheney was out hunting mosquitos with a shot gun... Go figure!
I am meeting many travellers in the hostels I am staying at. Mostly Europeans but a couple of Aussies and Kiwis as well. A few Israelites and a couple of Japanese.

I went and visited the famous Rila monestery with two nice women from Finland. A mother and daughter who were in my hostel. The monestary was founded by St John the miracle worker in the 9th century AD. This is the man who started the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. He was a hermit for 12 years who stayed in the mountains in caves contemplating and meditating until he acheived a form of enlightenment and then performed a few miracles or so the story goes. The monestery is built in the year 900something and it is a monument ot him and his worrks. The day we visited was two days following his birthday and there were thousands of Bulgarians there getting their kids baptised by the monks and taking tours and the like. The building is very impresive and particularly the church in the center with its 5 domes and incredibly beautiful and comples paintings of all biblical stories. Very beautiful.

In Sofia I went and visited the ST Nicolas cathedral and the Jewish synagogue. I liked the cathedral. I was a little burned out on the catholic cathedrasl because they seem to be amuseum of torture or something. All the art work seems to be Jesus getting flogged or crucified or wearing thorns on his head and getting stabbed in the side and never any of the miracles and the good times. The Bulgarian orthodox focus more on the fish and loaves and healing the sick. They (unlike the catholics) dont depict Jesus and his family as wealthy people but rather as poor people dressed modestly.

The jewish synagogue was built in 1901 by an Austrian architect who came over here to build a synagogue. It is still used today as a house of worship for Jews and has been used continuously for this purpose since it was built almost 100 years ago. it is Europes largest Jewish temple. The Bulgarians valiantly defied Hitler and saved their 52,000 Jews from deportation and certain anihilation during the second world war. Only Bulgaria and Denmmark had the courage and will to do this. The Bulgarian Church was instrumental in saving the Jews here. The Bulgarians were then and still are now a very compassionate and tolerant people.
I hads a nice Bulgarian dinner with a family of 4 french people and a nice couple from New Zealand. After the dinner, they put on a great show of Bulgarian folk singing and dancing in beautiful costumes and played ancient traditional instruments. it was a most excellent time.

I hate to hear about tourists or travelers getting ripped off and husteled. I hate to hear when travelers let it go when they are getting gypted for a few pennies. Took for a penny is took for a pound. These little two bit rip offs where they short you 30 slotnicks (15euro cents or 20 US cents) Is just bull shit yeah? That is why McConalds is burying these people... Travelers would rather eat shit than get ripped off!

I met two nice young Brits today. They just got here from Romania. They are on a three week holiday and have 2 weeks left. In Romania they get off a train and into a taxi. They have no local money. They dont know what the conversion rate is. They dont know how much the 5 minute taxi ride is SUPPOSED to cost. The taxi driver wont take euros. ( I would immediately be suspicious)He takes them to a cashpoint machine and tells them to get 3000 lei the ride will be about 1000. they do so and pay him and then when they arrive at the hostel the room costs 40. They take about 5 more minuets to figure they just paid 200 british pounds (aboutUS$ 370 )for a 5 minute taxi ride!!

I HATE when that happens. Never get into a taxi without some idea what the ride will cost. Never pay in money you dont know the conversion rate for ( not sure how to find conversion rate? go to http://www.xe.com/ucc/) Be smart dont get husteled. Count your change. Always ask what a thing costs before you buy it.I reemember an Irish guy who had to pay 200 euros fro a beer in Istanbul from a Russian Mafia bar bedcause he didnt ask in advance what the drinks cost!!!

So now its 2 days later and I am in Varna on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. Leaving Plovdid, I arrived at the bus station at 615 AM and found the bus sold out with the next one at 3 in the afternoon!! Aye Chingaso! taking a chance I hurried over to the train station and made it onto the train 3 minutes before the train left.

Varna is nice the Black Sea is not very salty. Good swimming. Crowded beach. It seems everyone in Bulgaria who is more than 12 years old smokes cigarettesw and they all use the beach as one big giant ashtray!!Yecchhh!!
Next update from Romania

Here are 3 quotes to close with. Some food for thought...

Love and Peace to you all ,

Rambling Robert

It is the habit of every aggressor nation to claim that it is acting on the defensive. Jawaharlal Nehru
The noblest revenge is to forgive. Thomas Fuller
Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both. Abraham Flexner


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