Stop 29: Here comes the Veliko, TARNOVO!

I’m the lyrical gangster…TARNOVO!

Excuse me mister officer…TARNOVO!

Still love you like that…TARNOVO!

Na…na na na na…. Well yeah, you get the idea. The plan was to get various trains until I eventually ended up at Veliko Tarnovo. Do you want to know how it went? Of course you fucking do;

So first we went to Russe…TARNOVO!

It’s on the border of Bulgaria…TARNOVO!

Then we went through immigration…TARNOVO!

Still love you like that…TARNOVO!

So finally we got through…TARNOVO!

And then I got off at Gorna…TARNOVO!

At 9 o’clock it was Veliko…TARNOVO!

Still love you like that…TARNOVO!

OK, stop now please!!!!!

Don’t worry, I’m done…TARNOVO! OK, now I’m done… So like the 90’s rap states I left Bucharest and had to get a ridiculously slow train to Russe, which is on the border of Bulgaria…

Don’t you fucking dare…

…And then I caught another train to some random place called Gorna (You know, you followed the song…) and I stayed there for an hour until I finally got a 30 minute train to Veliko Tarnovo.

Nine hours later I was there, in the middle of fucking nowhere, in minus Freezing-niplets degree weather with the hostel being a good 40 minute walk. I was, to put it politely, smoothly penetrated.

Then some random came up to me starting a conversation. “Oh here we go…” I thought, but I was in no position to say anything. I was exhausted and there were no taxis nearby. So my new best friend told me to wait by the side of the road until a bus came, and was striking up conversation as much as he could. He stank of cheap alcohol and my instincts told me something was wrong, but I hoped my instincts were wrong as I had no other option unless I wanted to get lost walking up the hill by myself.

My new best friend randomly switched to speaking to me in Italian. After mentioning I could ‘get him a gift’ for helping me and saying how much other people had gifted him (a months wages in some cases) I began to roll my eyes wondering how much this ‘nice gesture’ was going to cost me. He did ask for a couple of ‘Euro coins’ so I thought if that was all it was going to cost me it wasn’t that bad. He casually kept talking about ‘his house’ nearby so I assumed if it was a scam, he was going to take me to the middle of nowhere to his house where I had no option but to pay him to stay for a night…

I soon realised that we’d been standing at the bus stop for fifteen minutes. He originally said the bus would be five minutes but when I asked him again saying my feet were beginning to ice over he said “Twenty five minutes!” It reminded me of the film Snatch when the bloke kept saying ‘five minutes Turkish!’…

I couldn’t take anymore and said I had to start walking up the hill into the abyss. The Bulgarian Hotstepper then followed me up the hill continuing to talk to me. ‘This is definitely a fucking scam…’ I thought. Fortunately just then the bus pulled up, and we both got on.

I asked for the old town, he interrupted and Eminem’d at the lady in Bulgarian and I hoped he didn’t say that we going to the Bulgarian version of the Fritzl’s. He sat with me and I tried to figure out what his angle was. He seemed way too eager for this to be just generosity. When we got off and he led me around a few corners I made sure I went around tentatively and could see him at all times in case he led me into a dark alley, jumped out at me with a weapon and demanded all my stuff. But against the odds we made it to Hostel Mostel. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and he asked for his ‘Euro coins’. I said I would put my stuff inside then come out with the money (and I would, I’m a man of my word.) I rang the doorbell a few times and no one answered. Bulgarian Hotstepper started to get restless and said he didn’t have time to wait around in the cold for a few euros so I pulled out 10 Romanian Leu (about £2) and gave it to him. He looked pretty pissed off as he took it…

Hostel Mostel!!! It was a cool place with a nice group of people. Once I’d got settled I walked up the road with Albert the Gardener (that’s what his email says anyway…) until we met the rest of the group at the bar.

I said to Uncle Albert I was going to explore Veliko for a bit, and I did what I enjoy doing most; getting lost in a foreign city. Problem being it was -10 outside and soon I was lost for too long without food, water, or any signs of life.

I took some cool pictures though and after 25 minutes found my way back. Hilariously the first place I recognised was the bar everyone was in. As soon as I’d left that bar within 10 seconds I regretted my decision, so I was happy to find the group again.

I got some food, a couple of cokes and chatted away to whoever was in earshot. It was a good night. I made a friend in a shape of a cat who kept sitting on my lap. At about midnight we all walked back to the hostel, and chilled out until it was time to stare at our phones like zombies…

I was only in Veliko for a day. I would have liked to stay one more day and explored the city, but in a way I’m glad to be moving on. It was way too cold up there, and I’m looking forward to enjoying weather where I’m not huddled around anything relatively warm to stay…well…warm. Next stop; back to Plovdiv! With a brief cameo in Karlovo to see a friend of mine before completing the final leg of the European part of my tour; Turkey!

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