Pleven is much less hilly, coming down from the Balkan mountains into the plains.
The road out from the station merges into a pedestrian avenue with a complex set of fountains and waterworks, merging into a wide public square which itself branches out across a stream into a park. There are posters for the Bulgarian Socialist Party and its youth wing1 in the windows of municipal administration building.
I walked around, visited the regional museum. I appreciated this fragment of a Roman building in the courtyard.
The park behind the Ivan Radoev theatre has railings made up of rifles, cannons, axes. I can’t tell what the symbolism is going for, is this a statement against war - turning bayonets into railings? Or is it some kind of militaristic display?
I visited the Mausoleum of St. George the Conqueror, there’s an eternal flame in a crypt underneath.
The path up to Skobelev park forms an artificial valley, flanked on both sides by apartments which rise up alongside the steps. Stairways turning back on the central alley lead off to a medical clinic, a shop, all the street-level amenities which accompany integrated housing projects.
There are children skidding around on cheap mountain bikes, attempting to ride down the steps. It’s a comforting place, on a hill between a park and an art gallery, I imagine it would’ve been a nice place to live.
At the top of the long incline is ‘Mother Bulgaria’, facing towards the town with arms outstretched, broken shackles on each wrist.
Through the park, at the end of another long incline, there’s this circular building. Inside there are paintings and a vast circular diorama of the siege of Pleven. This place works as a war memorial and a historical attraction; I didn’t learn much about the battle or the war in which it happened, but I was impressed by the display, which I guess is the point.
One of the cannons on the hill has a bunch of flowers in the barrel. ⚘
The earth berm fortifications around the back of the building are pretty steep. I must have cut myself on something sharp when scrambling down the sides because when I got back to the city centre I realised my arm was bleeding.
The following morning I got up and walked slowly down to the train station. A first class plushy seat all the way to Sofia!
The ticket was 14лв. and that’s cheap even relative to Bulgarian salaries. On the way into Sofia the train passed back across the Balkans through Iskar Gorge, you go past a lot of beautiful scenery on these railways.
I briefly powered on my laptop in order to post an essay on Web3, and to retrieve my private key.2 Before I lost my charger I was tinkering with a redesign of this blog index, that will have to wait until I get home. One of the downsides of being on holiday is that the list of things I want to do once I get back just keeps growing.
Useful travel advice
On arrival in Sofia, I now see where I confused the metro exits ending up at the bus station on Monday. When you get off the metro on the line north from the city centre, there are two exits. Coming out of the train,
if you turn left the exit goes straight up to the train station and tramway stop,
if you turn right you go through a few corridors and pop out near the bus station.
I organised this trip by looking at train maps online and working backwards through the days to see where I can visit and when. If you are thinking of doing the same, there’s a railway map on a column in the waiting area of Sofia station. There’s an interactive map online here and the Bulgarian State Railway company has a website (with timetables in english!) here.