Always make sure Dad has his reading glasses on

After a great couple of days in Varna, lounging on the Black Sea beaches in the hot sun, we fortunately left on the day it started to rain. And rain it did! Public transport was thankfully not affected and we sped off on the train to Gorna Oryahovitsa, a town in central Bulgaria. From there we were hoping to move on to Veliko Tarnovo, described in the guidebook as a very scenic university town with mediaeval ruins and lovely narrow streets.

When we arrived in Gorna Oryahovitsa a few hours later the rain was still in full flow, with mini-rivers gushing down the streets. We had the option of waiting around for about half an hour for a train that would take us on to Veliko Tarnovo. However it was pretty cold in the train station and we were keen to continue on as soon as possible. Besides, Veliko Tarnovo was only about 6 miles down the road. Therefore we decided to get in a taxi to take us the rest of the way to Hiker’s Hostel in Veliko Tarnovo.

We had a map of Veliko Tarnovo with the hostel marked on it and so we approached a taxi driver outside of the train station. We showed him the map, and though he looked a bit confused he beckoned us to get in the back. We hopped in, thankful to get out of the rain, and we soon on the road for Tarnovo.

By the time we reached the pretty town, nestled in a gorge, it was clear that the driver had no idea where the hostel actually was. He seemed to realise that we knew this and so dropped us off at the taxi rank in Veliko Tarnovo. This was fine. What happened next was not.

Dad approached one of the taxis at the rank and a female taxi driver wound down her window to allow him to talk to her. He showed her the flyer we had been given with all the information about the Hiker’s Hostel, including the map. Confusingly she looked very puzzled and after a few minutes of consulting the map she seemed to come to a conclusion and said she’d take us there. We climbed in and were soon dropped off in a part of the old town of Veliko Tarnovo. We got out and the hostel was nowhere in sight. The taxi driver pointed up a cobbled street next to us, clearly telling us to go up there. It was no surprise that she did not want to drive up there as water was cascading down the street, making it practically impossible to drive on. We paid her and took shelter underneath a shop canopy nearby. At this point I asked Dad if I could look at the map to make sure that the hostel was up that road, as I didn’t want us to set off blindly in the pouring rain. Almost immediately as soon as I looked at the flyer that Dad had shown to the taxi drivers it was apparent what had caused all of the confusion and why we could not now see the hostel. Dad had shown them the map for Hiker’s Hostel in Plovdiv about 200km away!