When Plovdiv, Bulgaria pinged our radar we expected a hilltop old town, Roman Ruins, and Byzantine architecture – and this vibrant city definitely delivered.
But the best surprise was “The Unexpected” …
What we didn’t expect was a style of architecture totally new to us, world-class street art, as well as a trendy, semi-bohemian neighborhood crowded with local artisan shops and cafes. And of course, a weekend street festival buzzing just around the corner from our apartment didn’t hurt either.
Plovdiv is smaller than the capital Sofia, and prides itself on its relaxed atmosphere with a youthful, university-town vibe. The lack of big city hustle and bustle enticed us to spend a week there. Many of the streets in the center have been pedestrianized, and all attractions are within easy walking distance. So exploring on foot is the perfect way to experience the city’s charms.
And its many tourist attractions and quality of life haven’t gone unnoticed; it’s been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Plovdiv was a wonderful surprise and we fell in love. So in our next posts we’ll zero in on what we loved about this attractive, energetic city, and hopefully, convince you that it should be on your bucket list.
James & Terri
Photo Credits: 1. N. Lazarov via Wikimedia Commons
Another fabulous find. The travel list certainly doesn’t get any shorter following the two of you! Can I ask what the first photo is?
Sue, I’m not sure if you’re talking about the slider or the first collage photo. But the slider is Roman glasswork from a fabulous, small museum in Plovdiv, and the first collage photo is the Roman theatre in Plovdiv. And of course, in true Gallivance style, you’ll hear more about both. And just so you don’t feel like you Calgarians have the only cold weather around, it was 10° here yesterday morning. No big deal for your hardy Canadians, but it had this southerner shivering and piling on the fleece. ~James
It was actually the photo scrolling through your top posts of the two figures that appear to be on sticks.
Sounds like you may need to invest in a Canadian sleeping bag coat! One day it’s fleece and the next day the geese are hiding from you for fear you are after their down for a jacket. 🙂
My ancestors home. I need to go.
Cindy, we really enjoyed our time in Bulgaria and feel like we only only scratched the surface. We will definitely return, and if you get the chance, I’m sure that you’d enjoy it – particularly if you have family ties there. ~James
Great introduction.to Plovdiv and we look forward to the rest of the story. Bulgaria is a definite over the next couple of years.
Thanks Tim and Anne. As I said earlier, we really enjoyed our time in Bulgaria and feel like we only only scratched the surface. We saw some fascinating things there, and if you plan a trip to SE Europe, it should definitely be on your list. It has a long history and there’s lots to see, so you can do your research and pick and choose. And as an added bonus, it’s relatively cheap as well. ~James
The biggest problem we’re having right now is where to start. A great problem to have but SE Europe looks like a definite possibility for 2017. Cheers, Tim
We’ve spent a fair amount of time in SE Europe Tim and have written quite a few posts which may give you a few ideas. As you get closer to liftoff, if you have any questions, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . ~James
A great teaser for what I’m sure will be wonderful reads.
Thanks Laura. We really enjoyed our Balkans trip, and Bulgaria in particular. It’s long history and position at a cultural crossroads make it a fascinating place. ~James
An interesting tease for what’s to come. I love the street art and the mix of culture. How do you pronounce Plovdiv?
Thanks Martha. We loved the street art, and were so impressed, that we’ll be doing a post. And as to pronunciation – it’s pretty much like it looks: “plov” as in grove, and “div” as in live. The city name in the Latin alphabet didn’t give us too much trouble. It was when we had to find our bus that we had problems, because the window placard said: Пловдив. 🙂 ~James
I hadn’t thought about Bulgaria before your post. It is now DEFINITELY on the list. Looking forward to more photos and information.
Shelley, before our Balkans trip we didn’t know anything about Bulgaria, and honestly, it had never been high on our travel list. But after being there, we’re so glad that we visited, and we would definitely return to see other parts of the country. ~James
Wow – I visited Bulgaria once, but never knew about Plovdiv. Looks great!
Luckily, we did some research in advance, which is really the only reason we discovered Plovdiv. For us, it had the variety of sights that we enjoy, and the relaxed atmosphere was delightful. It’s the European Capital of Culture for 2019, so I’m sure that will put it on lots of bucket lists. ~James
Wow. Even with this small taste, I’m impressed and amazed. I love color and Plovdiv is colorful! I look forward to future posts. 😀 ❤
If you like color Tess, watch this space. Plovdiv has fabulous, colorful street art and architecture, and we’ll give you a look at both. It was such a pleasant stop, and a chance to catch our breath on a long trip. And from your time on the road, you know how wonderful this is. ~James
I have no doubt we will feast our eyes with more of your fabulous travel tales and excellent photography. 🙂 ❤
Bulgaria, I must admit I don’t know much about it but it seems like a wonderful place to discover. I honestly prefer traveling to places I haven’t got a picture in my head yet, so why not Bulgaria? 🙂 safe travels, Michelle
Thanks for the comment Michelle, and for dropping by the blog. When we travel, our usual process is to do enough research to decide if we want to visit a place, and once we decide, we forget about it until we arrive. Once we’re there, what we see and do is a bit of a moving target. Our plans go day to day, and our philosophy is quality over quantity, which always produces a few surprises. And this is exactly what happened in Plovdiv. I’m sure that you and Lara would enjoy Bulgaria, so I hope you can make it. ~James
Looks to be a wonderful & colourful destination. Looking forward to hearing more about your time here James & Terri!
Lynn, one thing that we discovered in Plovdiv (and in Hungary in general) is that a long history makes for lots of interesting tourist variety. When we visit a place like Plovdiv, we run into so many intriguing sights that we have to remind ourselves that too many posts about one place might tire our readers. As bloggers, it’s a good problem to have, and as travelers, it’s proof that we picked a good spot to visit. ~James
We have often found ourselves in places where we wished we had so much more time to explore, feeling like we have only just scratched the surface of a particular destination.
Just as an fyi, I am having a bit of surgery next week on my shoulder & not certain how much I will be able to comment. I will definitely be reading, just not sure about my typing skills!
We’ll be right here Lynn, and keeping our fingers crossed for a quick and easy surgery and recovery for you. ~James
There definitely is some Greek influence in the top photo to the left. (a mini colosseum ?)
Actually Leslie, it’s Roman. But, even though the Romans conquered Athens and Greece, they copied most of their art and architectural styles from Athens. This photo is a theatre that you’ll hear more about in our next post. ~James
Looking forward to it, James.
What beautiful pictures! Now what I imagined.
Plovdiv wasn’t quite what we imagined either Pam. But all the surprises were good. ~James
As often happens, I had never heard of Plovdiv until recently when I saw it on a list of places (most much better known) that should be on every traveler’s list, and now here it is again! Sounds like a great place to plunk down for a week and explore. I was just in Bogota where I was entranced by the street art – can’t wait to see more of Plovdiv’s!
Lexie, before we started our trip research, we hadn’t heard of Plovdiv either. As I said, it’s been named European Capital of Culture for 2019, so you can bet it’s going to be appearing on more and more lists, and for good reason. It really is a very cool place with lots to see, and city government seems to be doing its best to get the city spiffed up for the tourists. And BTW, the street art is fab, and we’ll be doing a post on it. ~James
Great ruins and I really like the girl draped over her books. Reminds me of college. Now I am ready to see what you ‘really’ loved about it. 🙂 –Curt
Curt, the Roman ruins were what initially attracted us to Plovdiv, but it turned out to have so much more to see. It was a pleasant surprise, so watch this space, and we’ll tell you all about it. ~James
Looking forward to it, James. –Curt
You have caught my interest. I´m looking forward to reading more about this place.
Darlene, Plovdiv was a hidden gem, that I suspect won’t stay hidden much longer. It’s combination of art, architecture and Roman ruins make it a wonderful destination. ~James
Great street art
Thanks Marie. We’ll be doing a post on the street art, so watch this space. ~James
You definitely need one of those Plovdiv t-shirts!!!
The city is getting into the City of Culture big time Rusha, and these Plovediv logos are all over the place. ~James
Sadly we didn’t get the chance to pop in.
I’ll be following up on your next post to see what we missed! 😉
There’s lots to see in Plovdiv Chris, and it makes a great stop if you get the chance. As a City of Culture, it’s going to get much better known (and busy). ~James
Next time we hit Bulgaria, we’ll certainly not be simply passing through!