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Travel advice Eastern Europe

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Travel advice Eastern Europe

© 2013-2019

LOVECH

The seasons pass slowly in Lovech, and it's lovely to visit in each time of year. I visited twice; in winter and autumn. Lovech remains one of my favourite destinations. The old town, called "Varosha", has a certain charm that instantly makes me feel relaxed. The white houses, leafy streets and steep stairways winding up against the mountain make it an atmospheric place. Add to this the wide choice of guesthouses available, all in authentic style. Plenty of authenticity can be found in Lovech - it has long been inhabited. Lovech is actually one of the oldest towns of the country; Thracian tribes such as the Meldi inhabited the area, with its many caves and conveniently located between hilly lands and vast plains. What may surprise many is that there are remains of the Roman road passing through Lovech as well; all paths of history left their mark on the town.

Upon arrival, the first thing that catches the eye is the fortress above the town. It is surrounded by the old town houses in the area "Varosha", elegantly hugging the river banks. The old town is situated on a bend in the river, connected to the new part of the center by three bridges. One of these is the famous covered bridge, built by Kolyu Ficheto. Between 1872 and 1874. It's the only covered bridge on the Balkans and therefore quite an important sight. Besides, it has many nice little stores where true artefacts are made and trades are kept alive. Woodcraft and the making of cups, pots and pans is very much typical for this region - Lovech and Troyan are well known for their pottery. In case the typical Bulgarian style of brown mixed with other colours does not match your interior - there are various other styles and there are some truly beautiful things to be found, not your average place to buy souvenirs. Likewise, the products are mostly hand-made in Lovech and surroundings and they have reasonably fair prices, especially for the time spent on such crafts. You can even catch a glimpse of the people at work, for example carving out names in a piece of wood to make a name sign.

Once you've walked around the new part of the center and crossed the bridge, there's a nice square called "Todor Kirkov", a famous local revolutionary whom played a big role in the Apriltsi Uprising. The square has a couple of good restaurants such as Drakata and Ponte - the advantage of Drakata being that you can sit outside at the waterfront with a view on the covered bridge. Both restaurants offer equally good dishes and courteous service. Depending on the number of guests inside, Drakata is a bit more noisy inside due to the floor tiles so depending on what you look for, Ponte might be more atmospheric. Apart from that, I can absolutely recommend both places.

After lunch, the old town is just a few metres away. Lovech is very compact and from the center, you climb right up the steep street. This street will lead you to the Ethnographic Complex on your left and a bit farther, the Vasil Levski Museum on your right. It displays the largest exposition about the national hero and many of his personal belongings as well. If you walk uphill towards the fortress, passing through the narrow streets, you reach the top of the hill with a large statue. Of course, the statue depicts Vasil Levski. The fortress is just at Lovech itself a very historical place; apart from the remains found from 3000-4000 years B.C., the fortress is where a peace treaty was signed between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire, marking the era of the Second Bulgarian Empire. I was told that the fortress had been destroyed and the stones were used to construct houses in the Varosha area.

Should you fancy a longer walk; if you are in Varosha, the old town, on the other side of the river bend is a nice park. It starts close to the wooden bridge, on the side of the new center. As you come from the old town, you cross the river and turn left. There's a path breaking off the main road on your left hand, a sign mentioning restaurant Yuzinata "Юзината" points you in the right direction. As you follow the river, eventually you will arrive at the restaurant where you could have a coffee outside. There's a well-renovated playground and the path continues even farther, until it stops. Just before the playground is a map with various paths you could follow; some leading upto interesting rock formations. You can retrace your steps to the center, take the bridge coming first, and have dinner at the restaurant of hotel "Varosha". There are several hotels called like this; I mean this one.

As said, there are many cozy places to spend the night in Lovech. If it's what you're looking for, there are many ouses in old style that are actually very comfortable. I stayed at Stariyat Lovech. The host, Mr. Dimitar Lalev, went out of his way to make me enjoy my stay. I genuinely enjoyed staying by the fireplace on a rainy afternoon, just having tea and reading a book. The guesthouse is absolutely lovely and there is plenty of choice. It's good to book in advance, you can call the guesthouses directly. Lovech is centrally located and this makes it a popular destination for trips.

Lovech is easy to reach from Sofia, albeit not so much by train. This would require a switch in Levski and would lose you a lot of time; it's best to come either by bus or by car. BGrazpisanie offers a a schedule, although not completely reliable. As I was in Lovech, there were also buses leaving at 13:00 and 16:00. Beware that there are two bus companies operating on the Sofia - Lovech route, Gratsiya and Vitosha Ekspres. Both have boots on the main street, Blvd. Bulgaria. There's a small difference in price; Gratsiya would cost you just under 10 levas and Vitosha Ekspres about 14. Again, the buses tend to be full as well, especially on the weekends. It best to buy a ticket in advance.

Lovech can easily be combined with The Lukovit Area, and the Prohodna cave, as well as with other sights such as "Kakrinsko Hanche", the Devetashka cave, and the Krushunski Waterfalls (pictures of waterfall included in album at the bottom of this page). Also, the towns Pleven and Troyan, with the Troyanski monastery, are relatively near as well. Please let me know in case of any questions!

I was in Lovech in July 2017 and visited the Devetashka cave as well. Right outside the cave was a map that showed all sights nearby. I was unaware of them until that point and was surprised by the number of sights right around Lovech. Please see a picture of the map here.

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