b72612_e8d40f5e13304dba9b4d133e61c3aa44Along the majestic Danube River, right across the vast plains leading to Romanian Bucharest, is Ruse. This is one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful cities. Many jokingly refer to it as a piece that crumbled off Vienna and came all the way down the Danube. As with many places in Bulgaria, a legend is attached to its name. In case of Ruse, its name is said to derive from the female founder ‘Rusa’, meaning blond hair. Another good reason could be that the city was named after the Cherven fortress nearby, meaning ‘red’ through the word ‘rous’. Ruse is a nice city – very elegant with its long boulevards, green city parks and stylish cafes. I have been to Ruse several times and it remains one of my favourite cities. Especially on a summer day, when the streets are crowded and a cool breeze comes from the Danube.

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Vidin is a city in northern Bulgaria, situated along the Danube river bordering Romania. Besides, Vidin is quite near the Serbian border as well. Vidin has always been a crossroads of routes heading in all directions. The city has a new bridge crossing the Danube to Romania, which is very convenient for trucks making their way through this part of the Balkans.

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North of Sofia stretches the Iskar gorge, a canyon formed by thousands of years of erosion and river Iskar’s force. The Iskar gorge makes excellent destination to take a break from city life in the capital and retreat in nature for a while. Svoge, being center of this region, makes a perfect base to explore the surrounding area.

Part of what makes Svoge ideal for an excursion from Sofia, is its proximity. Intercity trains take thirty-five minutes and ‘Personal’ trains, stopping at every station, do the stretch in fifty minutes. Intercity trains offer first class, nonetheless any ticket will cost you only a couple of Euros. No matter your means of travel – surely the route will surprise you with some nice views of mountains, valleys and quaint villages along river Iskar.

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