3rd May Ė Friday.

Vic drives us to Veliko Tarnovo. It is about 200 mile run.
Earl & Vic then race out to visit antique stores. 
Earl really likes Tarnovo, which was the medieval capital of Bulgaria. 

Our hotel is the most expensive at $120 for the night, but it is too convenient to change.  Afternoon walk to the top of a hill where there is an obelisk with statues of 4 riders on horses commemorating the thousand year anniversary of the founding of the first Bulgarian empire in 985. We visit the nearby art museum. 

It's time for tourist shopping and then Vic rushes us to see the castle before it closes.

Vic takes a picture of two tourists at the castle entrance wall.

Iím not prepared, and for the first time I didnít bring a camera as I thought we were only going shopping for gifts.  There is a folk festival going on also, but we donít have time to go to it. 

Vic has made special dinner plans so we meet his business partner Mika and his Russian girlfriend Natalie.  The chef has just killed a lamb that morning and grills lamb filets and lamb liver for us.  Dessert is flan. There is too much food for the six of us. It is a shame to have to leave it. 

4th May Ė Saturday.

Earl goes to the antique market which is being held in our hotel. 
Earl meets Momchel for ebay exchange.

Vic takes us to Troyan monastery which is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria.
It is a working monastery and has a museum. In the museum, there are old photographs of monks.
One monk from the turn of the century looks just like Earl.
Earl just needs to grow his beard a little longer.


Mural outside entrance.

Madonna with the three hands

At Vicís country home which is situated near Sopot lake (about an hour drive from Gabrovo), we meet up with Vic's wife Bubba, his mother, Nelly, his two year old daughter, Christine, and Vic's grandmother.   

The family at the country home.

Everyone but Vic who is taking the picture.

Christine is the baby sitting next to the fire. Bubba is in the yellow sweatshirt. Nelly's on the far right and Vic's Grandmother is standing in the back next to Earl.

We take a walk in the country down to the river and lake. There are cows in the pastures with bells and much bird song.  By the lake, we see frogs and Earl finds a baby turtle.  Dinner consists of pork chops in a reasonable portion.

5th May Ė Sunday.

Turns out to be Orthodox Easter, so we all do the egg thing which is tapping each other's eggs to see which one will break first. Vic drives us to Sofia for some final shopping.  I want an amber necklace so we get one at the stalls by Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Earl wants rakia so Vic gets some by the market next to his apartment.  Vic sees us to the airport and discovers our flight has been cancelled.  Seems the Russian planes were too noisy and banned as of May 1st from Western Europe.  Best we can do is to get a flight out Monday and lose our half day in Amsterdam.  We stay at Vicís mother apartment for the night as she is still at the country home.  Vic bakes chicken breasts for dinner and we watch the movie ďPractical MagicĒ with Bulgarian subtitles.

6th May Ė Monday.
We escape Bulgaria without a hitch and have a smooth flight to Frankfurt, where we sit for four hours and there is no way the airline will let us grab the Amsterdam flight that is only 20 minutes from our arrival.  At least we donít have to spend a night in Frankfurt.  Onwards to Amsterdam.  Arrived at 5pm and settled in our hotel room at the Radisson SAS.  It is close to Aalsmeer so we walk to the little town and have a great dinner,  like Norman's in Miami, only more food for less money.  We had the smoked salmon, eel and shrimp appetizer. Earl decides on lamb as his main entree and I have sole.  Coffee came with chocolates and a cookie tray.  It was nice to spend the night in Amsterdam and not have to go directly on the seven hour flight back to Miami.

I hope you enjoyed the report and pictures from our Bulgarian Adventure. Love to all, Marisa