If you read about my first week of work, you may remember that I can walk to work (when I don’t get lost like I did on my first day). I can also take a bus. Using the bus takes between 25 and 40 minutes depending on how long I have to wait for the bus. Walking fast takes 50 minutes. It is about a 4 mile walk, and it is good exercise. But most importantly, it is a very interesting walk. I try to walk two or three times per week.
So one Saturday when Lynn and I were heading to the big “farmers market” in the town center, I took pictures of “my commute” to share with you. I have put captions on all of the photos and they tell most of the story. I will add some detail here, but you can follow all this by just looking at the photos.
My commute starts out winding along the cobble stone streets of my neighborhood heading toward a small busy road that heads toward the center of the city. Before I get to the city center, I have to pass through the “transportation hub” of Plovdiv. There are two bus stations, and the train station all clustered together.
The tunnel I show in the picture is several hundred yards (meters) long because it has to go under one of the bus stations, all of the train tracks, the train station, and then a under a wide four-lane road. There are several tunnels like this in Plovdiv, but none of them are as long. However, most of them have small shops lining each side. By small, I mean they may only be 12 ft long by 5 feet deep. I am always surprised at how busy (or empty) they are. The one tunnel here is really “the best” - - if that can be said of any of them.
The large cobble stone street after the transportation hub is very different. It is very pretty, and the sidewalks are wide and easy to walk on. But this boulevard has the nickname of “Shoe Street” because two of every three shops on both sides of the street are shoe stores. Like almost all of the shops in Bulgaria, these are very small (not as small as in the tunnels, but not large like in the US). Lynn and I have not figured out how these stores survive. We don’t see many people in them, and the competition is all around them. But based on the number of shoe shops on this street (and other places), Bulgarian women must have closets full of shoes. Either that, or the shoes get destroyed quickly on the cobble stone streets and rocky sidewalks.
Next, I enter the large city square, and then head off down the pedestrian way. This takes you toward the “ancient” city at the other end of the walkway. The photo at the beginning of this blog shows Plovdiv City Center from one of the small hills in the “Ancient” part of the city. The pedestrian walkway is in the middle of the photo between the two small hills in the center of the picture. You can not see the walkway, but you can see the Radopi mountains looming up in the background. They are about 50Km south of the city.
After the pedestrian walkway, I zig zag onto several of the old ancient stone and cobblestone streets (they are more like trails). Then it is into another shorter tunnel under a very busy wide modern intersection, and I am quickly at the building where I work.
I’m not sure how I will like this walk when the weather starts getting colder, or the leaves have all been stripped from the trees, and it is dark walking to and from work. But I’m hoping that even with the seasonal change, I still will enjoy the walk. If not - - then there is always the bus, and the shorter walk home from the bus stop.