Ruse, Bulgaria
43° 51' N 25° 58' E
Apr 11, 2008 09:53
Distance 252km

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Text written in: English

Plan B

Ruse, Bulgaria. Friday, April 11th.

My plan was to go to Veliko Tarnovo, which is supposed to have one of the best fortresses in Eastern Europe in it. Got there as planned at 4 PM, only to find that there was a music festival there for the weekend and there was not likely to be any rooms available or easily found. Had to decide whether to wander around the city with my luggage, or whether to get out of town ASAP and head to Bucharest, and visit this city on the way back. Decided to head out as that was the safer bet.

Two hours later I was in the Bulgaria/Romania border town of Ruse. However, the next bus to Bucharest was at 6 AM tomorrow, so that was it - I was to stay in Ruse (population 160,000) for the night. Fortunately, there was a nice and inexpensive hotel immediately behind the bus station.

The next morning I found out the next bus to Bucharest was at 2 PM, so I decided to investigate the city, as it appeared to be representative of so many other towns and smaller cities in Eastern Europe. It was nice to just walk about and see how the locals lived and observe their regular tasks. Once you get over your fortunate luck in being born in the prosperous West and look compassionately and non-judgementally at these cities, you see that life is rather OK here. Things may not be completely clean or fixed up, but life does go on and the people seem very content and secure in what they are doing. Life is much simpler here, but that is not without its many blessings.

I took a lot of photos which try to capture life here, but be generous to what you see. I tried to capture it as I saw it and added comments. Please do not interpret the comments as being judgemental, rather objective and factual.

 

Photos / videos of "Plan B":

On too many walls there are posters and graffiti.  Many of the posters are very cheesy and suggestive.  Just below the surface, porno seems to be a big part of everyday life. When you walk about you must be alert as the sidewalks and pavements have many cracks, are uneven and generally designed to stumble on.  Almost everyday I have an almost fall. Near the train station.  As is the usual case, around the train station is not the best part of town.  This station was built during the Soviet era. Gaming is everywhere in Eastern Europe.  What is sad is there are people in these slot machine casinos even in the morning.  Looked in one last night and there was a lad that did not look 15 playing a slot machine. A closed pedestrian underpass the road.  Litter, especially plastic bottles are everywhere.  It is not unusual to see someone casually throw paper on the ground without giving it a moment's thought. Mixed in with all the housing is the occasional home or building with character. What is surprising is that you see a lot of more expensive cars.  50% of the cars are junkers or old, rest are newer Japanese and European compact (see very few US made cars) but 1% are Mercedes, Audi's and BMW's.  Someone has money around here, and you wonder how it was acquired. One thing that is common throughout Europe are magazine kiosks.  They sell Cosmo, Glamour and Playboy magazines in the local language plus hundred of indigenous newspapers and magazines. Every once in a while a wonderful green space presents itself.  The lawn or park space may need a cut or clean up but it does provide a visual relief from the otherwise drab surroundings.  There are always people about in these open spaces. High-rises.  This one has some character and uniqueness as the balconies are not all the same.  What happens is many of the residents close in the balcony, store stuff in it, hang laundry out of it or do whatever such that even the nice buildings look a bit weary and disheveled. In most cities that is a plaza or pedestrian mall lined with trees and benches for the locals to sit and have chats with their neighbors and others. At the centre of the town there is a large open plaza surrounded by cafes. Bet you cannot read this.  In much of Eastern Europe they have their own alphabet and characters such that your guide book and maps do not work.  Often there are some English characters and or words on the signs but not enough to make a lot of sense as to what is being said. More art and fun statutes near the Danube River The Danube River. Ruse is on the Bulgarian side, and in the distance you can see Romania.  The Danube starts before Vienna, and goes through Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade before it drains into the Black Sea over the coast of Romania.  This is a long river for sure. Some locals cleaning up the yard in front of their apartment building. Nice to see some local pride. Statute of some war hero in the middle of the large square in Ruse.  In the foreground you see locals on benches and a man on an accordion.  Great ambiance. More sidewalk cafes. It is Saturday, early spring and the weather is agreeable so the locals are out in force. Some very finely crafted buildings next to the centre of the city.  Likely built in the late 1800's.