Our lazy days in Abanssi were only interrupted by short trips to Veliko Tarnovo. This city’s great assets are its location and Tsarevets Fortress. One of our favorite activities was strolling along the small lanes up on the hill, with its small houses clinging to the slope. Each has a tiny garden and the obligatory few grapevines that provide shade for the small patio. The elderly people sit outside their houses and watch time or cats passing by, because not much else happens up there.
A few times we ate Veliko’s most popular restaurant Shtastlivetsa, as the Lonely Planet’s “favorite pick” it is heavily frequented by all foreigners and the local backpacker scene, the only one we discovered in Bulgaria. This, we found out, is due to the fact that Veliko Tarnovo is a possible stop on the train to Istanbul. The food is great and the menu of 34 (!) pages unbeatable. There is one small street where all tourist shops concentrate, plus a few hostels and cafes with great Café Frappé.
Naturally we toured the Fortress. Twice we tried to hire an English speaking guide, which proved to be impossible even with the help of tourist office. Without such professional help we didn’t really learn much about it. Its overall impression is awesome – the Russian restaurateurs amateurishly fixed the place squeaky clean and made its outside appear brand new.