Have ever done a road trip or you traveled on Route 66 in USA? Well, in this case you are on the right place. We will share with you insights from one of our favorite routes in Bulgaria, the one to Buzludzha and Shumen monument. Let’s call it the Bulgarian Route 66.
Road trip on Bulgarian Route 66
Of course we can take the highway, it saves time but it’s so boring, not much to see. Instead, we recommend to take the countryside road. We love the one under the Balkan mountains from Sofia in direction the Black sea. It goes via small villages and towns and we see the life of local people. Life in the countryside is so much different from the one in the big city. Just outside the last village we see a Bulgarian Mercedes, i.e a horse cart, which is common for the Bulgarian countryside.
Next is the Rose valley, the rose fields are blossoming at the end of May and the beginning of June. If we travel together at that time, we will make sure that we stop for a photo. Rose oil is the liquid gold of Bulgaria. It takes 3-4 tons of rose petals to produce 1kg of rose oil. Later it is used in the famous perfumes.
So after 3 hour drive it is time for a local breakfast. And no matter how hard we try to explain the local soft drinks to you, it is of no use, you simply must taste them. You can find boza and ayran drinks also in our neighboring countries. If you do not like the taste of the boza, do not worry, you are not the first one. 🙂
In about 1 hour we reach the first stop of our road trip, Buzludzha. The abandoned former office of the communist party makes travelers come to Bulgaria today. Sightseeing is from outside because entry is forbidden. Yet, the building is one of a kind. Hope for good weather and enjoy the view to the valley. You can take a photo with Elvis Presley, he is also there as a graffiti. 🙂 Usually after the stop we go to the next town for lunch. You will be impressed how tasty is the food in Bulgarian countryside and the prices…come and check it out yourself.
Our road trip continues because on this day our last point is the town of Shumen. Have you heard of it? This is the home town of the Bulgarian Charley Chaplin, i.e. Mr Todor Kolev. Tombul mosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria is in Shumen. Also the largest concrete monument in Europe, i.e. Shumen monument or 1300 years Bulgaria. And not to forget the local beer factory. If you are a beer lover, Shumensko is one of the beers you should taste while in Bulgaria. The choice for tonight is a hotel, built during the communism time. It was renovated but you will still see elements of communism architecture in the corridors.
1300 years Bulgaria
On the next day after breakfast we head for the 1300 years of Bulgaria monument. Unlike Buzludzha that is abandoned and getting ruined by weather, this monument is in perfect condition. We see the statues of the first Bulgarian kings and learn where Bulgaria originates from. Well and there is a marvelous panorama view over Shumen. For those of you who are fit and are volunteering, there are 1300 stairs starting from the town reaching the monument. Usually we go by car along a huge park where local people cycle, walk their dog or do jogging in the morning. Part of the Shumen monument is the largest triptych mosaics in the open-air in Europe.
Next to the parking there is a small cafe. Going for a drink, we find biplanes made by a local 92 year old engineer. Grandpa Stancho does them to help his living. Now we have one. A perfect gift for boys and our piece of encouragement for grandpa Stancho to continue his lovely hobby. This is a visit to remember but we depart because we have a lot to see this day.
Our next sight is Madara rider. It is under UNESCO protection, the only such rock relief in Europe. It shows the Bulgarian king on his horse, killing a lion, followed by his dog. Next to the relief there is a small chapel where local people come to pray and they leave small icons there. This is one of the spiritual places with strong energy in Bulgaria. We continue our walk in a nice park to reach the caves where ancient people used to live and pray. You might see some small frog and you will hear the birds singing, a nice nature retreat. Time to buy a souvenir or a beer and the road trip continues.
On this day we drive across the Balkan Mountains and we reach Gabrovo town. This is our town of humor and satire. We have a city tour of Gabrovo. It is important to know that it always includes a roundabout 🙂 and we continue in direction Veliko Tarnovo. What to see there? Well, this is the old capital of Bulgaria. And the main highlight for us is Asen’s monument. The monument is dedicated to the Bulgarian kings of the Second Bulgarian kingdom. For lunch we enjoy a view from a local restaurant and later we go to the monument for sightseeing. Last but not least, we take a panorama photo of the Tsarevets fortress, another highlight of Veliko Tarnovo and we head off. Sofia is waiting for us.