After some frustration at the bus terminal, I was told to board a bus that had left 15 minutes prior. Then, when I asked about the next bus to leave, the information booth told me I should go to each office and ask each individual company what time their next bus was (most of which spoke no English). I found a bus headed 5Km outside of Shumen and hopped on. I was on my way and an hour and 10 minutes later I was at Fifth Kilometer. I hopped off the bus, covered myself in spray-on deodorant and hopped across the road to meet Daniela and her husband. Greeted with warm smiles and happy Bulgarian hearts I climbed into the backseat and off we went.

We started by visiting one of the oldest cliff carvings in Bulgaria – a giant horseman (the Khan) with hunting hound chasing a lion carved into the cliff side below a fortress. From there we wandered around the caves and ancient fortified food storage areas on the cliffs below the fortress. After a hike through the forests we found our way back to the car and then had a leisurely morning brunch at a hotel overlooking Shumen.

From there we headed out to the first capital of the Bulgarian Kingdom. The ancient fortress (still being excavated) was massive. We toured its grounds, admired the thoughts of so many lives spent in these building and foundations and then, ice cream in hand, we walked back along the walls toward the car. We found some wild cherries still a little sour and gobbled them down as we enjoyed the beautiful Bulgarian plains land.

Leaving behind Bulgaria’s 1st capital, we headed to Shumen itself and one of the most magnificent monuments I have ever seen. It was startling, shocking, awe inspiring. A true monument to communistic times. Colossal figures breaking free of their cement confines represented 1300 years of Bulgarian kingship with each major ruler breaking their way free into the light.

We then headed to the nearby fortress before heading down into Shumen and enjoying the local girls walk by. Over a cold lemonade we discussed the trip, life, and how nice it was to be traveling and to see the difference between home and abroad.

Sated and ready for more travel I waved my goodbyes with a heartfelt thanks and headed off to Veliko Turnovo.