Rhodopes give way sharply to featureless Maritsa River Valley, and
the human environment changes just as quickly. We have just four
minutes to catch the train to Plovdiv-no time for tickets. The
express is packed to the gills, and passengers hiss as we drag our
bags down the crowded corridors. A conductor who speaks perfect
English fines us 10 times the price of tickets ... but doesn't give
The taxi from the Plovdiv train station has a meter that spins
faster than the speed of light. When it hits 20 lev, we yell
"spiram" and walk the rest of the way to old Plovdiv.
We take refuge in a tiny garden restaurant, where a young waiter
with an angelic smile helps us find an inexpensive room at a nearby
Old Plovdiv is an ancient Thracian settlement that was rebuilt by
Phillip II of Macedon in 342 BC. The former "Phillippopolis" has a
charming old town, where narrow cobblestone streets tunnel under
orieled National Revival homes.
It is, however, dangerously short of donkey dung ...
Left: This stunning Roman
acropolis was constructed during the 2nd century AD.