We had two choices in Rousse, the simple option was a guided tour of the town led by our cruise manager. That is what Steve chose to do. They explored the town which featured both the pre 20th beautiful architecture and the 20th century communist built concrete block housing. Steve was also on a mission to purchase some local Bulgarian wines for us to enjoy later on the trip.
The rest of the group took the trip to Arbanassi and Veliko Tarnova. These beautiful cities are located in the hills about 1 hour from Rousse. Arbanassi was historically and still today, the home of the rich elites. During our hour drive, we stopped at an event venue for a “coffee break” which is a euphemism for a restroom stop, but they did also serve coffee and pastries. After our coffee break at the wedding and event venue, we headed to the number one attraction in Arbanassi, the orthodox church which was built during the Ottoman Empire. The rules were that the church could not be taller than an Ottoman Soldier on Horseback with his sword drawn, so it is a verry small building, but richly decorated with frescos depicting the lives of saints and stories from the bible. We weren’t supposed to take picture’s, so I had to do it very surreptitiously. We also toured the home of an Ottoman Sultan and got a peak into what life might have been like for him and his family many years ago.
We headed down the hill for lunch in a lovely restaurant that overlooked the Tsarevets Fortress. Following lunch, part of group headed out to hike up the fortress. We were treated to incredible views in every direction. I did have a little mishap coming down, I looked out instead of down and mis-stepped, my ankle rolled, I heard a pop and fell on my bum. Luckily the pop was just a sprain like when you pop your knuckles. I was a little shaken, but able to walk down the rest of the hill and got the tour guide to get me ice for the foot and a friend gave me ibuprophen for the swelling. A word of advice – when touring in Europe, always look down and stop walking if you are on an uneven surface and need to look out. The ice saved me from long term pain and I was 80% recovered in a few days. The beautiful castle was worth all the pain.My Cruise History