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Veliko Tărnovo Shoes, Restaurants and Cars

There must be more shoe stores per-capita in this city than any other I have been to. The Veliko Tarnovians are mad about shoes. And the stores all seem busy. I cant account for this high concentration of shoe outlets so I just marvel at them as I go by...it seems every other shop is a shoe store.
Restaurants are big here too as this is a tourist destination for many Bulgarians. I am seeing many Spanish and Asian (Chinese) tourists also. And the food here is exceptional. And very inexpensive. One restaurant I can recommend highly is the Restaurant Shtastliveca on Stefan Stambolov Street. It’s service is spot on and the food is a real treat. RS got this one right.

And the Bulgarians take pride in putting out not only great food but food with true presentation and flair. The breads are wonderful whether they are the flat type grilled with Garlic or the big Homemade small loaves of white bread that often come with a dinner.

Another very good place was Ego with a really extensive menu and very good food.

One thing to avoid here is the tacky little tourist train. Normally I wouldn’t take one of these but this one looked promising especially as a way of getting to Tsarevets Fortress. But it mostly goes to Miniature Bulgaria (I gave this a miss) and back to the entrance to Tsarevets then a short jaunt uphill to Velchova Zavera Sqaure. Not worth the 8 Lev.

As I gaze across the expanse of river valley and hills from the terrace of my Airbnb that overlooks Tsarevets it seemed a long way away so we were looking for a way to get there. We read about the train online and decided to do it. Unfortunately it doesn’t start till 11 AM. Since we were already walking that direction we just decided to keep going. Google maps said it was only 1.25 kilometers from our place...this seemed impossible to me. But sure enough after a walk down an interesting street with views out across the valley on one side in short order we came to the ticket booth and causeway that leads uphill to Tsarevets. It’s an evocative mideaval site and an important part of Bulgarian history and the view back toward VT from the hill are inspiring.

I am a car guy. I love cars and always have. One of my first car memories is riding in my Mother’s 1956 Thunderbird convertible standing on the seat and letting the air stream through my “flat top”. Since I was in high school I have owned more than 40 cars. So you could say I was hooked...

So I really like looking at all the cars I come across when traveling and I rarely miss an opportunity to visit a Car or Transport museum. Here you can see a few examples of the Trabant made in the former workers paradise of East Germany and whose claim to fame is mostly based on how many EAst Germans escaped to West Berlin in them. They are so ugly they border on cute. But as a car they are hopeless. There are a few here still running though barely, and plenty of the Fiat based Lada’s. (How could we have ever really feared a country that couldn’t produce a decent car?) There are many old Soviet Trucks here and their running gears (axles and drive trains are bullet proof, their engines not so much), but you see them here bustling about spewing black smoke and working hauling just about everything. Their design reminds on of some of the worst sort of “peoples Art” of the old SU.

Yesterday I saw a Full sized Ford F-150 here in VT (a VERY RARE sighting for sure) and a brand New Mustang. I have seen quite a few Mustangs in Europe this time. It is becoming popular here. And of course FCA (Fiat Chrysler America) is selling Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees here too. (It wouldn’t surprise me if sales of thes cars all over Europe are not hurt by the needless trade problems we have started)

And of course there are many many big and small BMW’s, Mercedes, Audis a few Alfa Romeos but Strangely one VERY popular car elsewhere in Europe is rare here...The SMART Car. Too bad it is worth the price in cuteness alone.

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546 posts

Some Other Veliko Tărnovo impressions: Bulgarians seem to love their Ice Cream as Ice cream stores are everywhere and there is an Ice Cream chest with frozen treats in many many shops even those not related to food. People on the street seem to be eating Ice cream at all hours all the time.

VT is CAT CRAZY, there are cat postcards, cat refrigerator magnets, cat coffee mugs, cat postcards, cat paintings, cat sculptures, cat dinnerware, Did I mention Cat postcards? Cat everything and hundreds of seemingly homeless cats around the city. They seem pretty well fed. So if there is a Crazy Cat Lady in your family this is a perfect place to get a souvenir for her. (We were told that some of the proceeds from the postcards go to a fund to care for the cats but we cannot verify this and it sounds all too much like a sympathy play to sell cat stuff to me...but it also might be true)

There by contrast are few dogs. And only one homeless pooch that we have seen so far. He is freindly and quite chubby and loves attention. He is tagged with a small tag on his ear that we are told means he is homeless. (We found this same thing in Bar Montenegro where there were hundreds of homeless dogs all with ear tags.)

We have spent 4 days here and walked all over this city and like it very much. It is beautiful, dramatic in it’s setting, full of good food and great restaurants, interesting history, nice people, wonderful old buildings and a city that is easily manageable on foot.

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There was one couple taking care of about 30 street cats when I visited VT in 2015. If no one is funding a neutering program, I'm sure there are many more by now.

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1137 posts

aarthurperry: Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful posts and also those of Kaeleku about the history of Bulgaria but which I can no longer find. Maybe it was on another site? We will be in Veliko Tarnovo for 4 nights, Sept 29 - Oct 2. The restaurants you mentioned were already on our list. We were already looking forward to a great trip and your posts are confirming our hopes.

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546 posts

Oh Carol Bulgaria is wonderful and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. I will have some more posts coming up as I am on my way to Ruse and Plovdiv tomorrow.

I can recommend those restaurants for sure...but really we have found excellent food in almost any place we have stopped into. Of course the two I have mentioned are above average for sure.

Thanks for your kind words.

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Carol, they are under the heading "Bulgarian Impressions Part Two New and Old". I found them by checking in the Bulgarian site.
At this point, the last posting was on July 8th. I learned a lot from reading the historical impressions of Arthur and Kaeleku.