Travel

The apricot paradise – unexplored Silistra region (Northeastern Bulgaria)

Despite the low-cost airlines’ invasion, Bulgaria remains quite unexplored, especially the Northeastern region. I currently live in the Netherlands, but originally come from Silistra – a small city on the Danube river and a part of the border with Romania. The region has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, food and tips to have a good time and you won’t regret it if you decide to pay it a visit. And it’s definitely out of the beaten tourist path.

Let’s go.

First stop – Silistra. The first thing to do in the morning – eat banitza with boza at the city centre market. The place cannot be ranked as a restaurant, it’s not fancy at all, you’ll have to do the queue and to eat on the go, but trust me, you won’t regret it. That place has the reputation to sell the best banitza ever and everyone who comes from Silistra dreams about it when living abroad.

After the breakfast feast, it’s time for a cup of coffee for a kickass start of the day. There are many little cafes in the town, but for a first-time visit in the ultimate search of the most stunning view, we are heading to Drustar hotel. The summer terrace is located on the Danube river and it’s the perfect spot to relax, enjoy your coffee and the great panorama in front of you.

Drustar hotel is located in the Central Park which is the most vibrant part of the town. It is a very beautiful park longing the Danube where you will find a part of the ancient remains of the Dorostotum city, modern sculptures and hundred-year-old trees.

After the walk in the park, it’s time for some cultural immersion. There are three museums and one Art Gallery to explore – Historical and Ethnographic museums and Medjidi Tabia Ottoman fort. The Historical museum offers a mоck-up of the ancient Durostorum so you can have an idea where all the Fortress’ walls were located. Remains of some of them are still existent and can be seen at several locations across the town. The museum shows artefacts of ancient past through its numerous necropoles found and preserved there. The Ethnographical museum aims to represent how the people from this region and all its villages have lived before as well as their traditions and rituals. The Art Gallery has a rich collection of paintings of the most famous Bulgarian artists among which is Vladimir Dimitrov – Maistora (The Master). The famous Medjidi Тabia fort is located at the Southern part of the city and to reach it you have to climb around 300 stairs.  Be prepared!!!During the summer as it is very hot, it’s preferable to go there early in the morning, or late in the afternoon.

After the cultural immersion in Bulgarian history and folklore, it’s time for lunch. There are many little and nice restaurants in the town, but one of the best is a fish restaurant with a terrace with a view of the little boat harbour. It’s called “Bai Danio” (Бай Даньо – Bai is someone who is еlder, wiser and respected) and offers the best fish soup ever. The fresh fish of the day is the one bought from the fishermen at the port. The restaurant is always packed in the evenings as it’s a famous spot for good food and atmospere, but having a delicious soup for lunch can be a go too.

During the summer is getting very hot in the afternoon, so after lunchtime, you can relax or have a coffee break under the shade of the trees in the city centre cafe square.

If you are interested in visiting religious temples you can visit the beautiful “St. St. Petar and Pavel” orthodox church, “Kurshumlu Mosque” in the city centre and the Arminian church “Surp Astvadzadzin” in the Armenian neighbourhood. The orthodox church and the Armenian church “Surp Astvadzadzin” are located close to each other. Back in the days, an Armenian community lived in the city, but only a few elder people are still alive so far. All the streets in the Armenian neighbourhood still keep their Armenian names and nearby are located few craft shops locally known as “The Armenians”.

Now it’s time to head to Medjidi Tabia Fort. First, you have to embark on a long stair-climbing walk. Medjidi Tabia is located at a park locally called “The Fort” after the name of the Fort. The path to the Fort is just lovely – such a peaceful and greeny…you sit, you take a rest, and continue to climb if you find it hard to do. At the top, you’ll see the Fort. It has the form of the hexagon and is well preserved. It’s been built between 1841-1853г. The Fort was a part of the Ottoman fortification system used during the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. It is best preserved of the all six facilities in the system. The name of the Fort means “The White fort” as you can see from the colour of the walls inside. Once you finish the museum part, you can exit the fort taking the path longing its walls. It’s a narrow path, but very beautiful and shadowy in the summer.

After one day spent in Silistra, you can explore the surroundings and visit Srebarna Nature Reserve. There are busses from Silistra to Srebarba on a regular basis.

The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a nature reserve located in 20 km west of Silistra and comprises Lake Srebarna and its surroundings. It is located on the Via Pontica, a bird migration route between Europe and Africa.

The reserve was recognized as World Natural Heritage Site under the 1972 Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. You can admire pelicans and cormorants living in the lake. You can also visit the museum dedicated to the local fauna and flora.

An eco path lies around the lake, so you walk/ hike around or just make a picnic there – you’ll find a lot of facilities for a picnic and outdoor chill-out. If you go there in the summer, be prepared for mosquitos. They can be big and evil. If you decide to stay overnight in the village, you can find an accommodation at the locals.

Our mini-trip continues and the next day we head to Ruse – the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. Ruse’s architects used as a model Vienna and designed the city in Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo style. So it’s often called the Little Vienna. The city centre is just gorgeous, so take your time and walk down the streets. You can also easily reach the Danube park.

That was the final destination and it’s time to say good-bye. Sofia, Varna and Tarnovo are just in few hours by bus, train or car from Ruse. The bus and train stations are located at the same place ): Dovijdane Severoiztochna Bulgaria (Довиждане Североизточна България)!!!