The Oldest City in Europe...
It’s probably not where you are thinking. Not Rome, not Athens; not Lisbon or Seville. Plovdiv, Bulgaria, outdates them all; going back to 6,000 BC. Nebet Tepe, one of Plovdiv’s Seven Hills, was a crucial settlement at that time and has been inhabited ever since. The City of Seven Hill’s as Plovdiv is known, no longer has seven, but is still a melting pot of history and culture. Upon arriving, I was quickly swept off my feet and had fallen in love before the day ended.
Not yet discovered, means not yet overrun with tourists and cheesy souvenirs to purchase on every corner. Authentic, with winding cobblestone roads which lead from one roman ruin to another. Museums and art galleries dot the landscape filled with strolling locals, as they meander down Europe’s longest pedestrian mall. Awarded the prestiges, European Capital of Culture 2019, this walk-able, historic city, will soon be in the headlines spanning the globe. To sit in the Kapana (translated to “the Trap”) is an absolute delight, with a variety of eclectic bars and fabulous restaurants to taunt you with tasty international menus. The “Creative Arts District” not only has nourishment for your body, but also your soul; you will find blacksmiths, leather makers, textile shops, maps, ceramics and more, all inhabiting quaint, tidy shops, in a labyrinth of adorable streets and alleys, just as they have for the past five centuries. Old Town sits above the city on Nebet Tepe, with it’s prized, perfectly intact Roman Amphitheater, used throughout the summer to entertain the locals and tourists alike. This prehistoric settlement of the Three Hills, were the origins of Plovdiv, back in 342 B.C. when Philip II of Macedonia conquered the city and named it Philippopolis.
Many large green spaces can be found in this delightful city, including the rowing channel, at the Regatta Venue, which recently held the 2018 World Rowing Championships. With the Rhodope Mountains to the South and fertile valleys to the North, Plovdiv is a nature lovers dream, while also providing some of the fastest internet in Europe, digital nomads are equally fulfilled. With some of the most coveted Medical Universities in the region, classes are taught in English, and British expats by the thousands have made Bulgaria home, making it an easy transition to a foreign country, where everyone seems to speak your language; summing up, why I too, have decided the Thracian Valley and the city of Plovdiv, could in fact, be my forever home.
My recently renovated, communist era, block apartment, is too cute. One bedroom, fireplace, two patios, full kitchen, and bath; hardwood floors, 7 meter ceilings, huge windows, it’s like living in the trees, and only meters from the main pedestrian mall, as well as three huge parks, perfect for walking the dog. Coming in at 320 euro monthly rental, add in another 30 for wifi and local phone number, and another 40 for electric, water and waste, add up your thirty day, hard cost bills, and you will find them less than 400 Euro. Groceries are fresh, local and without added hormones; alcohol is cheaper than just about anywhere else I have seen globally, including SE Asia, and the wine…oh the incredible locally produced wine! You have most likely never had a bottle produced here, but let me just say, WOW! All in all, you can easily live here for less than $1000 USD which translates into: 867 EUR| 766 GBP | 1410 AUD.
Having a small airport with three flights weekly to London, easily makes Plovdiv a winner for those of us who need to have easy access to the globe, and with fares lower than 200 EUR (sometimes even less than 50 EUR!), it’s another win. I know I mentioned the super fast wifi, which is fantastic, but also, not only available in my home, but in pretty much every bar and restaurant in town, giving those who work from home, ample opportunities to expand their office. Did I mention how compact it is here? You can walk everywhere, and most people do, which makes for a healthy lifestyle and a great way to say hello to your many new friends, because I can guarantee you will have a lot, should you choose to arrive here with suitcase in hand. Looking to venture farther, there is a train and many local and regional busses, which can take you pretty much anywhere within BG as well as just about anywhere else in Europe. Unlike Asia, a literal hot spot for digital nomads, Plovdiv offers; low humidity, amazing infrastructure, lack of monsoons, no malaria, easily accessible healthcare, safe, fabulous food and wine, over 300 hours of sunshine annually, friendly locals who are all eager to speak English, a plethora of music and cultural events, inexpensive shopping, and a ton of outdoor space.
Is Bulgaria perfect? Absolutely not. Plovdiv however, affords an incredible array of small town charm, Universities which offer a melting pot of ages and interest, as well as history and architecture unlike anywhere else in Europe. With numerous eclectic cafes and engaging expat groups, there is always something going on, or someone new to meet. I live between two of the large hills, perfect for dog walking, or just getting some incredible 360 degree views of town. Additionally, there is another huge park, “The Singing Fountains”, where everyone it seems, hangs out, plays chess, runs through fountains, sit on park benches and chats for hours. Aylyac is a thing in Plovdiv; roughly meaning to relax and not let the pressure of the world bother you, to be unfazed. You can see this concept not only in Tsar Simeon Park, mentioned above, but in just about all the cafes and pubs you wander past, most of which have outdoor seating, taking advantage of the 300 plus days of sunshine here, a year. There are four seasons as well, but folks don’t disappear the moment summer is over, The Capital of Culture 2019, retains charm and cultural activities year round. For those who really love the snow, there are a number of ski resorts within a two hour drive. You will also find hot springs and mineral baths in a number of settings to ease your wary body, anytime of year, one of the largest, Hisar, is a short 45 km jaunt, and has healing claims going back to Thracian Tribes during the 5th century BC.
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