Our last stop in Bulgaria is Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria. On the way, we met a young man on the train whose aspiration is to be Prime Minister. We've never known anyone with that aspiration and wished him great luck. Bulgaria still has a lot of corruption left from the communist days and reigning that in is a significant challenge!
But Veloko Tarnovo has some locals that are very proud of their town. In fact, throughout Bulgaria, the locals are intensely proud of their country, or possibly their independance. Bulgaria was created in 1185 and was independant until 1249. Then the Turks came, and after them, the Russians. It wasn't until 1989 that they were again independant. That's a very long time to be ruled by someone else! A very poor country (average income is $210 per month), but a country full of pride and excited to be able at long last to control thier own destiny.
The highlight of our stay was an outdoor sound and light show reliving Bulgaria's history. The backdrop was the citadel at the top of the hill overlooking the city. We viewed the show from an adjoining hillside. Quite an impressive display! We walked to and from the show with Roumen, the "sales manager", a young man who was the least likely sales person we ever met.
At the end of the evening, we had a few beers and Tomas, to everyone's surprise, starting talking real estate, which is very, very inexpensive, appreciating rapidly in Bulgaria, and is a hot commodity for Western Europeans. The idea being to find a small property for Roumen to manage and funnel any proceeds back into Bulgaria to help the local economy. Will it ever happen? Chances are slim, but we were all inspired by the possibilities!
Oh, and we saw the film "Walk the Line". Dang good film, even if you aren't a Johnny Cash fan!