4th July – Canakkale to Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

Today we have a 415 km drive to Plovdiv in Bulgaria plus a border crossing, so we catch a 7:30 ferry across the Dardanelles.

We drive off the ferry and go around to one of the forts at the start of the Dardanelles.

The drive along the coast is very pretty and when we turn left we drive through fields of sun flowers on the Gallipoli Peninsula and around to Anzac Cove before heading north up the peninsula.

Although we are still in Turkey we are now in Europe and start our run to the end of our trip in Abingdon in 8 days.

The scenery is lovely with the Dardanelles to our right and the Aegean sea to our left.

We arrive at the Turkish border town at 12:15 and meet up with DashB before  continuing to  the border. The exit from Turkey is quick and the entry into Bulgaria is just as quick, 40 minutes in total, our quickest border crossing so far!

The drive into Plovdiv is pretty smooth as it’s not a huge city.  We see more storks nesting up high, this time on top of a church.

After we arrive at our hotel and have a cup of tea we walk around the lovely city of Plovdiv, through the Mall area and shopping centre.

Past the remains of Philippopolis built in 172 AD and up into the old town.

There are a couple of lovely churches with icons in them. St, Mary the Virgin Mary Cathedral built in 1844 is lovely.

As is St. Dimitar Church which was built in 1838.

We stop for a beer in a cafe overlooking the old theatre before walking through the old town back to the mall where we find a restaurant and have a lovely meal.

On the way back to the hotel an army band is playing in the square adjacent to our hotel.  There are quite a few soldiers and a small crowd listening to the music.  At one stage everyone goes down on one knee, so we think perhaps the national anthem is being played.  Then all of a sudden machine gun fire starts up on a balcony overlooking the square and fireworks start. It’s quite surreal.  The fireworks and shooting of blanks go on for sometime. As best as we can gather from some locals this is a celebration of their freedom after a war.

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