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July 3, 2002

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Take a train to Plovdiv and find a place to stay. Easy? Grandma drives faster than the train and cheap hotels (under $50 US) don't exist in Plovdiv. We wandered around with our huge backpacks (they've grown since we've been home), sweating through our shirts, until we managed to find a homestay agency that set us up at Mrs Shkovdrova's for $16 US each. We couldn't speak to Mrs Shkovdrova anymore than we could pronounce her name. Back home people asked us if the language barrier has caused us grief. Bulgaria isn't too bad, one in five people are willing speak English, and the Cyrillic alphabet isn't hard to learn. Learning how to read (studying the Bulgarian alphabet on the train) helps us immensely - no signs are written in English and it's not fun being illiterate.
Waiting for trains in Bulgaria isn't bad - they run on time. Reading the train schedule is impossible if you don't know Cyrillic.
Bulgarians like painting murals on open walls. Strong lines, bold figures, and dark colors characterize their art.
Plovdiv Baroque architecture: noted for a projecting second story and jutting eaves.
Downtown Plovdiv is a pedestrian city with a lot of charm, although many homes could use a paint job.