Posts Tagged ‘blogsherpa’

Pleven – Sit Back and Relax

June 19, 2010

In a world without boundaries we are tempted by distant exotic destinations. The further from home – the more exotic and desirable. Then, one day, we are surprised to discover our own home town. We  now see it with a different eye and enjoy the charms of this place the way we never have before.

I was born in a mid-size Bulgarian town. The moment I finished high school I moved to the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia and since then I’ve been everywhere else but my hometown Pleven.

Rainbow over Pleven

A Tiny Bit of History
As it turns out Pleven has ancient history. It was a Thracian settlement, a Roman province and a fortress. It is mostly known for being a major battle scene during the Russo-Turkish War, which you will be reminded of by every monument you see.

The town of Pleven in Bulgaria
At first Pleven looks like a typical post-communist mid-size Bulgarian town. You will see the usual large marble square, the monuments of the Russo –Turkish War and the concrete residential districts inherited from communist time.
However, Pleven is a very special town. It is quiet, laid back and green. It has the most beautiful fountain cascade and when the lights are on in the evening the square looks magical.

Pleven's Town Hall

If you wanna go for a super pleasant 30 minute relaxed walk start from “Pleven’s  Big Ben” (the town hall) – a big red building with a clock tower, where the offices of the municipality reside – and just walk down the square. You’ll pass the marble square with the fountains, continue along a street lined with cafes, pass the Drama Theatre and then reach the shady “Old Main Street’’.  I love its old houses and its cool shade in the summer. And the best thing  – nowhere you will see or hear or watch out for cars. It’s all pedestrian.

Must  see

Here is a short list of ‘must sees’ in Pleven, Bulgaria

Kaylaka Park Reserve in Pleven – a huge park – one day is not enough to explore. It is ideal for biking and walking.

Kaylaka Park Reserve

Kaylaka Park

Pleven Panorama – this is a kind of monument-museum , which depicts the Russo-Turkish War. I remember I was quite impressed as a kid by the reality of the set-scenes. Pleven Panorama is located in a beautiful area –  Skobelev Park close to the so-called Dead Valley Lake. The valley is “dead” because it was covered with the bones of soldiers.

Pleven Regional Historical Museum – one of the largest museums in Bulgaria.

The Chapel Mausoleum – you can’t miss it even if you wanted to. Its right in the centre of the square. There is the “eternal fire” burning in front and the bones of soldiers resting inside.

The Chapel Mausoleum

Cafeteria Street (that’s not its official name) – Pleven is THE place for drinking coffee and chilling. There is a whole street lined up with cafes full of beautiful young people doing just that. There is a word that Pleven women are extraordinary beautiful. Choose a soft chair, order an espresso and enjoy the view:)

Pleven Plattenbauten – just out of curiosity you might wanna visit one of these residential areas – “Druzhba” or “Storgozia”. A bunch of large-panel system buildings or LPS, looking just like one another. Its pathetic! I actually grew up in one of those. The good part was that we had sooo many neighbours and friends – it was never boring!

Concrete Monsters

Pleven is all about drinking espresso and shopping clothes. For a small town like Pleven the 3 shopping malls are a little too much!

Where to stay

I can’t really recommend any hotels in Pleven. They are not cheap due to the lack of tourist flow. I would stay in Park Hotel Kaylaka or Orbita hotel only because they are located in Kaylaka park.

Park Hotel Kaylaka

Quick facts about Pleven, Bulgaria

Location:  (see map) about 2.15 h driving North East from the capital – Sofia

Population: about 80 000
Must see: Kaylaka Park Reserve, Pleven Panorama, Regional Historical Museum, the Chapel Mausoleum, The Drama Theatr

Best time to visit: April – June and September – October

*Most of the photos in this post are a present from my friend Martin Milev. Thank you Marto!

The Village of Leshten – Somewhere in Space and Time

May 25, 2010

Where: another alternative destination in Bulgaria – the village of Leshten. It is situated in the SouthWest end of the Rhodope Mountains – about 220 km from Sofia. The road is windy and uneven but it is absolutely worth the trouble. Our first impression – a magnificent view towards Pirin Mount!

The village of Leshten, according to different sources, is an ancient village and many traces of old life, culture and architecture have been found in the region. It used to be a municipal and trade centre in the past. I find it hard to believe this, looking at a small stony village of 30 houses – about 300 years old – and a single permanent resident.

That’s right, “stony village”, everything is made out of stone – the roads, the houses, the fences. No wander this specific technique of building was the core means of living here back in the Bulgarian Revival. It’s a great thing that the authentic look of the village is preserved. Even the 15 renovated houses, which host tourists, have kept their old style – stone plinths, roofs covered with hand cut tile-stones, high stone fences, small windows and wooden flooring. So solid and so great!

Where to stay: in one of the 15 renovated houses. They are supplied with all the modern comforts, a fireplace and a kitchen. Below is the house where we stayed at. If you need help with reservation write me an e-mail to or use the contact form.

the house we stayed at

Where to eat. There is one single place to eat in the village. I find it relaxing not to have a choice for once. The restaurant is in the building of the old monastery school. I haven’t eaten there yet but most people say the food is local, authentic and very delicious and… it is not cheap.

Things to see: the village of Leshten is a historical monument by itself. The ancient architecture and the great natural location is a winning combination. The spirit of the once lively municipal centre is asleep but it’s still there.

The village church – St Paraskeva – had its last service in 1957 but you can still enter the church and light a candle. The wall paintings are quite bright, kind of modern and curious.

The clay house – this one is a favourite tourist destination not because it is ancient or has any historical value but because it is one of a kind. It is made entirely out of clay. There are no sharp square shapes – the whole house is soft and oval. Even thought it looks simple and primitive the clay house actually offers luxury accommodation, which combined with location and view is probably worth the price – around 60 euro per night.

the Clay House

the clay house's porch

The gallery – one of the houses functions as a classy gallery from where you can buy sophisticated pricey art-icles.

The village of Kovachevitsa – nearby village, also an architecture monument – post about the village of Kovachevitsa coming soon

a street in Kovachevitsa village

Koziat kamuk (the Goat’s Stone) and Chernata skala (the Black Rock) – ancient sanctuaries of Thracian times (or so they say)

Fossil Deposit Site near the Village of Garment

Natural sights:

The Blue Pool – a beautiful pool of Kanina river

The Dark Forest – a forest reserve

Manoilova Dupka Cave- with various cave formations, underground river and waterfalls. It is the home of globally protected bat species. Entrance to the cave is limited.

Rizova Dupka Cave – a rare type of cave formed not by erosion but by vertical slicing in a gneiss rock, caused by its won weight

The Zagrade Plane trees: these are two incredible sycamores (plane trees) over 600 years old; they can be seen on the right side on the road from Gotse Delchev town to the village of Marchevo. In the Tertiary (or so the sources say) there used to be a huge forest of such trees along the valley of Mesta river.

If you need any help with reservation or a tourist guide to show you around write me an e-mail to or use the contact form.

Krushuna – a Green Wet Fary Tale

February 15, 2010

Krushuna is a village about 35 km from the town of Lovetch. It is quiet, the nature is unspoiled, the air is clean – just like most other villages in Bulgaria. But it does have something more to it… In the south end of the village a magical place is hidden. Come with me – I’ll show you…

How to get there:

The Journey from Sofia takes about 2 hrs and 20 minutes. Here is a link to map+driving directions.

Once you get to the village it won’t be hard to discover its proud secret – the Krushuna waterfalls or the so-called “Maarta”. In the midst of green vegetation there is this wondrous creation of nature – waters, falling over  soft mossy rocks, overflowing round shaped terraces, which look like they are filled with liquid emeralds.

part of the waterfall

part of the waterfall

Of course this has its scientific explanation. The waters of Maarаta river fall over karst, limestone and travertine rocks. Gradually the waters mould the rocks into these beautiful round rapids. I don’t know how the water got this emerald colour, but I guess it has to do with the chemical composition of the rocks.

emerald waters of Maarta river

The whole waterfall is about 15 metres high. There are bridges and steps, facilitating  the visitors get different views of the sight.

High in the rocks you will see a few ancient caves. One of them leads to something like a church, carved in the very rock. These caves were ones the homes of Christians who professed isihasm – an orthodox school, popular in the 13th century, which founded its values on humbleness, love and wisdom. The isihasts lived in remote, secluded places, where they could contemplate nature and connect with God. They used to heal peoples’ diseases. One of their believes were that mankind could be freed from its ailments and even live forever.

entrance to one of the caves

Other things to see:

From all the caves in the region there is one you absolutely have to see – Devetashka Cave. It is on the way to Devetaki village.  We parked where the road crosses the Osam river. There is a road sign for the cave. From there it is about 1 kilometre to the cave along a small eco trail.

the caves's entrance from a far

I love this cave because it reminds me of a cosmic station. It has the biggest ‘foyer’ of all the caves in Europe – 3o metres high and 35 metres wide. According to different sources it was inhabited during 7 different epochs. It was a sanctuary in ancient times.  It used to be a military base in the past. Later on in the 1950s it was a storage for oil. According to some it was the federal reserve’s food storage and rocket base.

There are 7 huge openings on the ceiling, through which natural light enters the main hall. Past the main hall the cave splits into two corridors. The left one is about 2.5 km long. It is dark with a small river running through, forming miniature lakes and waterfall, passing through the main hall and eventually flowing into Osam river. The right corridor is much smaller. It is dry and warm, ending with a round hall, known as the Altar.

the ceiling


Where to stay:

There are many village houses for rent. Usually the whole house is rented and you can cook your own food in the fully equipped kitchen. The house we stayed at had only one WC and bathroom so I am not going to recommend it. It had really nice yard though and a great outdoor dining area with a fireplace. If you are not worried about the single bathroom fact write to me and I’ll send you the contacts.

outdoor dining area

the house

My advice is do not visit Krushuna during the village holidays May 2nd  – it gets crowded and messy.

Please keep the area clean and be careful not to damage the formations. Unfortunately, we, Bulgarians aren’t particularly good at that.

If you have further questions you can use the contact form or write to me at