8 August, 2011
I came to Vidin by train (6 hour journey) from Sofia. The trip was lovely, partly beside a river in a deep gorge. I sat with a family going back home to Vidin, a couple with a 6-year old boy, who taught me the Bulgarian numbers 1-10 (he already knew the English 1-10 which he proudly recited for me). Although his parents had little English I was able to communicate with them. and show them a map of my travels.
Vidin is in the north-west corner of Bulgaria, close to the borders with Serbia and Romania, pretty much Balkan Central. It is about equidistant (200km or so), from the capital cities of Belgrade (Serbia), Pristina (Kosovo), Skopje (FYRO Macedonia), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bucharest (Romania).
And Vidin is on the banks of my beloved Danube River! Last year I visited Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade (from upstream to downstream). Vidin is the furthest downstream I have been. The Danube is just as impressive here. They are building a bridge across to Romania which might be finished in another year or so. In the meantime there is a ferry. When the bridge is operating I think it will really put Vidin on the map, tourist-wise. There might be a direct railway link to Budapest and on to Thessaloniki via Sofia. The Danube forms the largest part of the Bulgarian/Romanian border, only veering north entirely into Romania as it approaches its outlet into the Black Sea.
Speaking of Thessaloniki, Bulgaria is much cheaper than Greece, almost back to Albanian price levels. And the infrastructure is better too, I have to say. There were no trains running at all in Greece, in the entire country! I think it had something to do with the Euro budgetary crisis. And no taxis! There had been a taxi strike for three weeks and counting.
Here are some pics of Vidin. First my hotel room. A proper hotel. I am on the 9th floor, with a balcony and a great view of the Danube, for 20 euros per night. From my re-entry into Albania from FYRO Macedonia, I have gone: hotel, dorm, dorm, hotel, dorm, dorm, hotel, hotel, dorm, dorm, hotel. Mixing it up like that is great. Other pics are of a church, former Ottoman barracks building, Baba Vida fortress, a Jewish synagogue in ruins and scenes of city walks.