WJ Tested: Bulgaria – Vidin, Belogradchik and Baba Vida Fortress

WJ Tested: Bulgaria – Vidin, Belogradchik and Baba Vida Fortress

Included Shore Excursion on Uniworld River Princess Eastern Europe Explorer Danube River Cruise

Day 6:
Today we enjoyed a relaxed morning of cruising upriver onboard Uniworld River Princess to the Bulgarian city of Vidin on the banks of the Danube – this section of the Danube River is the borderline between Bulgaria and Romania.

WJ Tested: Bulgaria - Vidin, Belogradchik and Baba Vida Fortress

WJ Tested: Bulgaria – Vidin, Belogradchik and Baba Vida Fortress

For guests feeling more ambitious and wanting an early start to their day, Masseur Damir started his morning light exercise class at 7:00 a.m. in the lounge – we heard from fellow passengers that it was a nice way to start each day.

We ventured down to the restaurant for the lavish breakfast buffet, and filled a plate with pastries and fresh fruit to enjoy back in our suite (the in-suite Nespresso coffee machine was fantastic!) before attending the 9:30 a.m. cruise overview and presentation by Cruise Manager Heiner Schmidt. Following Heiner’s presentation and a port talk about the next day’s program we watched the river go by from the sun deck.

Our estimated arrival in Vidin was just before 1 p.m., so we made sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy the buffet lunch in the ship’s restaurant (we very much enjoyed the complimentary beer and wine that was also available at lunch) in order to be ready for the featured afternoon excursion to Belogradchik rock formations and Baba Vida Fortress.

Did You Know?… Vidin:

  • Is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria
  • Has two well-preserved medieval fortresses: Baba Vita and Kaleto
  • Is one of the oldest towns along the Bulgarian Danube
  • Is a border town with Romania to the north and Serbia to the west

    Church in the Bulgarian Countryside

    Church in the Bulgarian Countryside

The afternoon proved to be most interesting and the driving time through the countryside to Belogradchik was only about an hour. Our guide, Emil, was a school teacher from Vidin and gave us a very good explanation about the end of communism and socialism in his country in 1989.

Emil - Belogradchik and Baba Vida Guide

Emil – Belogradchik and Baba Vida Guide

Interesting Facts from Emil:

  • Bulgaria is one of the world’s best producers of wine
  • The country gets oil, natural gas and propane from Russia
  • Gypsies make up 5% of the Bulgarian population
  • The current Bulgarian government is a parliamentary democracy
Comfort Stop at 4-Star Hotel

Comfort Stop at 4-Star Hotel

Our first stop before reaching the rock formations at Belogradchik was at a 4-star hotel in the town, where we could use the facilities and enjoy refreshments – coffee, tea, bottled water, cookies and sweet treats.

Belogradchik Fortress

Belogradchik Fortress

Following our 20-minute comfort stop it was a short drive up the hill to the Fortress of Belogradchik where Emil explained the significance of the structure. Those that were fit enough hiked up the stairs at the rock formations to enjoy the expansive views of the city and surrounding countryside.

Belogradchik Rock Formations

Belogradchik Rock Formations

Did You Know?… Belogradchik:

  • Literally means small white town
  • Is situated in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains
  • Is famous for its unique rock formations ~ the Belogradchik Rocks
  • Rocks vary in color and size and have fantastic shapes

    Belogradchik Rock Formations

    Belogradchik Rock Formations

During the 60-minute return drive to Vidin, Emil continued his informational speech and took time to individually answer any questions passengers had. Once we arrived back at the city we drove past St. Dimitar Church, Bulgaria’s second-largest church before arriving at Baba Vida Fortress for a tour of the structure.

Baba Vida Fortress

Baba Vida Fortress

Did You Know?… Baba Vida Fortress:

  • Is located in the northeast part of Vidin, and is the town’s primary landmark
  • Construction dates back to the 10th century
  • The castle fortress has long played a roll in history with both Bulgarian and Ottoman empires
  • There is a summer theater and a small artifacts museum
  • Offers outstanding views of the Danube

    Baba Vida Fortress in Vidin

    Baba Vida Fortress in Vidin

After our visit to Baba Vida there was a short drive back to River Princess, where we arrived just in time for a children’s folklore show along with a presentation and tasting of Elbi (Елби) brand Bulgarian yogurt.

Elbi (Елби) brand Bulgarian yogurt

Elbi (Елби) brand Bulgarian yogurt

Did You Know?… Bulgarian Yogurt:

  • Originally made with sheep’s milk
  • Dates back to the Thracians
  • Boasts the starter bacteria ~ LactobacillusBulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius
  • Is well known for its many health benefits
  • Elbi (Елби) brand Bulgarian yogurt is made in a factory in Vidin

Unfortunately we did not have enough time to visit the city of Vidin itself, but it did appear from the bus that there are many interesting and historic buildings and structures. Our opinion is that Vidin is in need of an influx of money from the EU in order to encourage tourism and business to the area.

A delicious 4-course dinner in the restaurant was served between 7-9 p.m. and by 8 p.m. we were cruising towards Donji Milanovac in Serbia.

Mushroom Stroganoff Entree

Mushroom Stroganoff Entree

Tempura Fried Shrimps Entree

Tempura Fried Shrimps Entree

Creme Brulee Dessert

Creme Brulee Dessert

If You Go:

Continue Reading WAVEJourney’s Uniworld Eastern Europe Explorer River Cruise Review:

Cruise Overview | Bucharest | Peles Castle | Bran Castle | Bucharest City Tour | Uniworld River Princess | Giurgiu: Embarkation | Rousse to Varna & the Black Sea | Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi | Captain’s Welcome Gala | Vidin, Belogradchik & Baba Vida Fortress | Iron Gates | Donji Milanovac | Viminacium Archaeological Site | Sava River | Belgrade City Tour | Deck Dining | Vukovar & Osijek | Cruising the Danube to Budapest | Budapest City Tour | Budapest Parliament Building Guided Tour | Gabcikovo Hydroelectric Dam and Lock | Bratislava City Tour | Captain’s Farewell Dinner | Vienna City Tour |

Notes: WAVEJourney travelled from Bucharest to Vienna as guests of Uniworld River Cruise Collection from July 25 to August 8, 2012.

 

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