The Eco Trail – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

(Just a little advanced warning.  There are photos of insects in this post.  There are NO spiders, just insects.  So if you’re afraid of strange and exotic insects, then this post may not be the best place for you.)

Most people I know would probably describe me as a city girl.  After all, I’ve just spent the past 10+ years living in Moscow, Russia, which has an official population of just under 13 million.  And every day people commute from the Moscow outer region for work, which can increase the daily, work day, population by a lot more.

I loved living in Moscow!  I loved the 24 hour life there.  Being able to go to the supermarket on your way home at any time of the night or day made life so easy.  Life in a big city can be hard for some, but for me it was a huge pleasure. 

Even the crowded Moscow metro was a thrill to ride (maybe because I wasn’t travelling in it every day to work and back at peak hour).

My early years

But, did you know that I spent some of my formative years growing up in the Australian bush?  At the age of 11 and 12 we lived on some land (50 acres if my memory serves me well) in the middle of the bush.  Our nearest neighbours were a couple of kilometres away.  I took the school bus to get to the nearest town, Gingin, to go to school (about a 20-30 minutes ride, picking up more kids along the way).

We rode horses, made cubby houses in the bush, tried not to get bitten by snakes or red-back spiders, collected and chopped wood for heating, cooking, and hot water making.  It was a kind of adventure playground for me and my brothers and sisters.

At 13 we moved to the city, but not for long.

When I was 15-16 we moved back again to the same place in the bush, after having spent the previous 2 years living in Perth (the capital city of the state of Western Australia).  Living in the isolated bush was a lot less fun at the age of 15 than it was at 11!

And, some years later, at the age of 20-22, I lived in a country town, Albany, in the south of Western Australia.  Although I lived in the town and not in the middle of the bush, as I had done as a teenager, I still had a small vegetable garden, and I had to chop wood for the only source of heat in the house – the open fire in the living room.

While I lived in Albany I often visited my grandparents, who lived in a nearby town, about 50 kms away.  They had a lot of land, with gardens, vegetables, and fruit trees, and they lived a life very conscious and respectful of nature and the world around us.

So, you can see, I have had some experience of country life, although the last 30 years of my life have more or less been city dwelling ones.

Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria

I told you in my last post that we’d arrived in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, in order to start a new life, after our lives were disrupted by the dramas of 2020.  So here we are in a reasonably small town (compared to Moscow!) with a population of just under 70 000. 

The centre of Veliko Tarnovo

In VT (as it’s known as) there are shops, restaurants and cafes, bars, estate agents, mobile phone shops, and all the other kinds of businesses that you’d imagine to be in a town of this size.  So living here is pretty convenient, even if it’s not a 24 hour big city we can get what we need most of the time – just not at 3am.

And I’m happy to be living so close to so much nature!  All around us are tree covered hills and it’s amazing to see this when we’re standing on a piece of high ground somewhere in the town.

View of the hills from near our street

But I wasn’t ready for my reaction the other day when we took a walk down a path just a few minutes from our home.

The Eco Trail

We’ve made a couple of new friends here (they’re Bulgarian), and they live in our street, so they know all about the local area. Last week they told us about a nearby trail that leads to a waterfall. 

This week Olivier and I decided to find it.  So off we went down the street until we found a rocky trail leading into bushes and trees.

At first it started out as gardens. No houses, just gardens with wire fences around them.  There were about 5 or 6 gardens and they were all different.  Some of them were well looked after, others not so well.

garden
Tomatoes and peppers growing in one of the gardens

In one garden was an old man sitting by himself on a chair under a tree, with a bottle of beer on the small table next to him, listening to very loud opera.  His bicycle was leaning against the fence, waiting for him to finish in his garden and head home again. 

We didn’t disturb him but I’d really love to find out what his story is.

gate
A gate leading to one of the gardens

As we continued along the trail, nature changed a bit.  In some places it was quite dry, in others it was wet and almost muddy.

trail 2
This part of the trail was cool and the air was humid
desert
And then it turned into this, almost like a desert in comparison

We crossed a small stream at one point.  And we also came across this water ‘trough’ – I don’t know what else to call it.  The water coming from the pipe was so cold and had no smell, so I guess it’s really pure.

water trough
water pipe

There was a picnic table right next to this water supply.

picnic area

The smell in the air was amazing!  It reminded me of the smells at my grandparents’ place.  Just nature – earth, leaves, water, wood.  I couldn’t stop taking in deep breaths just to get it into my lungs, I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave.

Just keep walking

We walked and walked, and along the way we came across so many wonderful living things!   Not only plants (berries, roses, and other wonderful green things) but animals, like insects I’ve never seen before, and many different coloured butterflies. 

I was really like a child in wonder at the world.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so good, I really felt emotional looking around me at everything and breathing in the fresh air. 

After walking for about an hour, we came across some guys on motorbikes.  We had heard them earlier, and we finally saw them as they came towards us on the trail.

view
See the hills through the trees

At that point the trail had started going down the hill, so we decided that we should turn around and go back the way we came, because going down always means going up again (and I’d prefer not to walk up the hill!).

So we let the motorbikes pass us, and we turned around and headed back towards home. 

cliff
A cliff in the distance

The waterfall

On the way we’d noticed a small path that deviated to the left, and we decided to take it on the way back.  And it was a good idea, because here was the waterfall we’d been told about.

It was a lot smaller than we expected, but it was beautiful.

water fall

There was a small wooden bridge that looked like it might have been strong enough to walk across, but we didn’t take the risk.  Maybe next time.

bridge

And the other beautiful thing was that there’s a picnic table right there near the waterfall, and there were two young girls (teenagers) sitting there, with a lot of food, with two dogs, just talking to each other, enjoying the weather and the beautiful location.

And not a mobile phone in sight.

The critters

Here’s a sample of the wildlife we came across during our walk on the eco trail. 

This snail was huge!  I’ve never seen a snail this big in real life before.  I put my pen down next to him to show you his size.  I looked around but I didn’t see any of his family or friends, he was completely alone.  We left him on the trail, and I hope that the motorbikes didn’t run over him.

snail

I don’t know what this insect is, but he was very intimidating!  Estimated length including the head (not including the antennae) is about 4cm. 

bug

Then there was this beautiful creature on the trail, which I think is a ‘mint beetle’ (someone please tell me if I’m wrong!).

green beetle
A mint beetle digging on the trail

And these two look like ladybirds without spots. It looks like they’re reproducing, which is a very good sign for the future of the world!

ladybirds

And some other random insects, who coincidentally are both black and orange.

black orange bug
Black and orange stripes
orange bug
An orange and black insect with strange markings

And some lizards enjoying life on a rock.

lizard
Lizards sunning on a rock

The plants

I’m not really an expert with names of plants, especially when I’m in a country that has plants that I’ve never seen before.  So I’ll just leave these here for you to enjoy.  If anyone wants to let me know what they’re called I’ll update the photo with their names.

red flower
An unusual plant
white flowers
Beautiful white and grey flowers
blackberry
Wild blackberries
orange cape gooseberry
An orange Cape Gooseberry growing in the wild

And some orange/yellow lichen for you.

lichen
Brightly coloured lichen

So that was our two hour walk on the eco trail this week.  As you can see, I really enjoyed it!

Actually, it was more than enjoyment.  It was like nature touched my soul again for the first time in a long time.

I’m sure we’ll be taking this trail again and again in the future, as long as we live in this street.

Do you have any beautiful walking trails where you live?  What emotions do you get when you’re surrounded by nature? 

~ Cheryl

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

26 thoughts on “The Eco Trail – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria”

  1. What a lovely post Cheryl, being out in nature can work to restore something in us and it sounds like you needed that walk! What a variety of scenery you went through too and those bugs look amazing. Wishing you well. #mlstl

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    1. Hi Deb, thank you. Yes, I really needed that walk, but I didn’t know it until I went. It was so lovely, I could write another 2000 words about it right now! Thanks for reading and for your kind words. 🙂

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    1. Hi Rita, thank you. I didn’t realise how much nature affected me (us). After spending so much time in a metropolis I’d forgotten how necessary it was. I must have been really lacking this in my life. I’m so glad that life has brought me to this place. I hope you’ve got your own nature trail nearby to bring you the same kind of joy. 🙂 x

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  2. Hi Cheryl, I am sure that over the years this will be one of your most little cherished memories from VT. The photos are all beautiful and even if I am not a nature girl, I enjoyed everything as if I were there.

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    1. Hi Anq, thank you. I was really surprised at my reaction on the trail! It was so nice to discover it, and I think you’re right, I will have very fond memories of this day forever. I’m so lucky to be here. Thanks for your compliments on my photography, I’m not a great photographer, but who couldn’t take great photos of such beautiful things?! Thanks for the comment and for reading Born in a Car. 🙂

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  3. I just loved your photos Cheryl…even the insects. I probably wouldn’t be as happy if I saw them in person, but in a photo, they were delightful. Nature is so good for the soul. I’m glad you were able to enjoy it.

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    1. Hi Christie, I loved the insects, even in real life! Just between you and me, my husband stepped back, and stayed back, when he saw the big grey one! I loved them, it’s only spiders that scare me. Glad you enjoyed the photos, I loved sharing them. 🙂

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  4. Hi Cheryl – I’m so glad you found your little nature spot – and you got to do some “forest bathing” to soothe your soul – probably something your poor soul was sorely in need of after all the the stress from moving countries and being so unsettled over the last 6 months.
    BTW I lived in Albany from when I was 21-22 at the bottom of York Street – opposite the Penny Post. Another connection! xx #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Leanne, I wasn’t aware before we hit the trail that I needed it so much, but the signs are definitely there that it’s what I was looking for. Thank God that life brought me here (randomly!). I didn’t realise I was stressed, but looking back it’s true. I guess I just didn’t want to admit it (I’m too strong for my own good sometimes!).
      I lived in Humphreys Street, at the edge of town on the way to Denmark. It was a Homeswest house, an old weatherboard (or something), cute as can be. Funny coincidence! 🙂 xx

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  5. Bonjour Chery l… another lovely post. There’s nothing like Mother Nature to recharge your batteries. I love the peace and quiet and lovely colors. There are no beautiful parks here in the city, just a dog park with dogs running loose everywhere. I love dogs but I would like a beautiful park with benchs where you can sit and read and with trails for walking. Here, it’s so different from home. I miss home a lot (Québec).
    I wrote to you in English this time as I didn’t know if you prefer reading French or English. My native tongue is French and I miss not being able to speak it here. Thanks for sharing! Lovely photos!

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    1. Hi Yvonne, thanks for the lovely comment! Where exactly are you, in which city? Do you have a blog? You can write to me in English or French, as you wish. If I don’t understand then I’ll ask my husband to help me. My French isn’t too bad, but not great so forgive me any mistakes.
      I’d love to have a dog, but right now we’re still very unstable, not knowing where we’re going to live, and even if it will be long-term. Plus we live in a small flat now, so dogs aren’t in our near future, unfortunately.
      Hope you’ve got a nice weekend planned! Take care and hope to hear from you again. 🙂

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  6. Hi Cheryl. This was such a fun post! I felt like I was right on the trail with you. I’ve never seen these kinds of insects before. We do have those snails, though, here in Georgia. Tim and I love to walk along nature trails as well. My favorite place to walk in nature is Budapest. A walk through the Buda Hills or on Margaret Island is especially enjoyable. How blessed you are to live near such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing. xx

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    1. Hi Christina, Glad you liked it! The insects were great, really cute actually! I’ve never really been one to walk trails, but I think it’s going to become a regular part of my new life here. I hope you’ve got some equally beautiful places for walking in Chiatura. 🙂 xx

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  7. Cheryle you have such an interesting life! I’m glad you have landed someplace that has some city things but lots of beautiful nature too. Hopefully it is a good place to ride out the Pandemic and create a place for yourselves!

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    1. Hi Michele, thank you! I love my life! I wouldn’t change it for the world, even the ‘bad’ parts! I’m really happy to be here in this town, as you said it has city things and beautiful nature. I realise now how much I missed ‘nature’ during my Russian years – I was so excited about living in such a big and busy city that I didn’t think about the other side of life. Maybe with age it’s a natural progression to go back to nature. I plan on enjoying it more and more while I can! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. 🙂

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  8. What a beautiful walk and loving all the insect photos. I must read more of your posts…I didnt realize (just having met you on here) that your from WA originally…Im a Perth girl too and growing up in Perth back in the 60’s was certainly a wonderful time. I grew up in the suburbs of Perth but we used to do long trips to the country to visit family. Stay on farms, camp out on the bush. What a wonderful life it was. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Bree, thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Another Perthite! How cool. 🙂 I grew up in the 70s (born in 1967) and I have such great memories of fun and simple times. Our family never went camping, but we did spend a lot of time in the bush thanks to my grandparents first moving to Darlington, and then down to Denmark, where they lived until they died. I have to agree with you that life was certainly wonderful back then. Thanks so much for reading and welcome to the Born in a Car family. 🙂

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  9. Cheryl, I’m glad you found nature close to where you live and it seems to have nurtured you. Happy exploring! I look forward to reading more. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Natalie, yes, I’ve been nurtured by this local nature! I’m really lucky to have ‘landed’ here after living in big and busy Moscow all those years. Time to relax! Thanks for visiting and hope to see you again soon. 🙂

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  10. This looks like such a beautiful trail. That’s my idea of the perfect day out – my husband and I regularly visit our local trails with the dogs. It’s an escape from the crazy world that we live in when we need it most! I’ve always been a small town/country girl, but I can’t imagine the shock of moving from a busy city like Moscow to a place as small as VT! What an adventure!

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    1. Hi Britt, this kind of activity is a new one for us, and I really love it. We went again a couple of days ago with the owner of the flat we live in – a 73 year old woman. And we were out walking with her for 2.5 hours! I’m enjoying our new small town life. 🙂 Thanks for visiting Born in a Car and commenting.

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  11. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful journey. Am afraid of insects but your photos are gorgeous and I learn something meaningful about your story. Keep them coming Cheryl, enjoy reading them….

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    1. Hi Nora, thanks for your lovely comment. I’m in need of some encouragement at the moment (aren’t we all?!) and your words have hit the right spot. Thanks for visiting Born in a Car, I hope to see you here again (and I’m about to head over to take a look at your blog). Have a lovely end to the week and weekend. 🙂

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