Feb 3, 2015

Feb 3: Pazardjik

The snow that had been forecast overnight failed to materialise and the morning dawned bright and clear. Since I knew I only had to cover 18 kms today, I slept in and had an extra cup of coffee with breakfast. I was walking along the road in the warm sunshine by 9:30, and it was one of those days when I just flew along.

I arrived in Pazardjik by midafternoon. The clerk at the hotel speaks fluent English (something I've learned not to take for granted in Bulgaria) and was able to give me some suggestions on what to see in the city. There is an extensive pedestrian area in the heart of the city, and he also mentioned the church I'd walked past on the way in to the city.

The cathedral was built in 1837, more than forty years before Bulgaria was freed from the Ottoman Empire. It's the largest church from that era, and its decorations are emblematic of the Bulgarian Renaissance. I must confess that I'm not a fan of most 19th century iconography, and I found the overall aesthetic effect to be overwhelmingly gaudy. In spite of that, I felt very comfortable there, and spent some time with my prayer rope. On the way out, I noticed people gathered in one of the side chapels. I'd missed the first ten minutes of Vespers, but stayed for the rest. 

I walked around the centre of town for the remainder of the afternoon, then bought some food to carry with me tomorrow. It's a 38 km walk, and unlike the past few days, my GPS app isn't showing much of anything along the route. I grabbed dinner from a small grill and now I'm about to turn in for an early night. Breakfast is included in the price of my room, but it isn't available until 8:00. My plan is to be fully packed and checked out by then and start walking as soon as I'm done breakfast. I should be in Plovdiv right around sunset, although with a level path and not many places to stop along the way, I may make better time than usual.

I'm planning to spend a few days in Plovdiv, at the hostel that the folks in Sofia recommended. My dad's friend had recommended a few things to see and do in the area, and by all accounts the city is worth spending some time in.

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