The Unique Architecture in the Historic District of Plovdiv in Bulgaria

It is a full-day trip to visit the historic town of Plovdiv in Bulgaria from the capital city of Sofia, but it is definitely worth the time that it takes. The town, like so much of the region, has a history that goes back to the Trojans, then the Greeks, followed by the Romans, and eventually the Turks, not taking into account the modern occupations including the Soviet Union. That history and amalgamation of cultures is part of what makes a tour of Plovdiv fascinating, but today it is also a vibrant shopping area with lots of shops and restaurants literally built on top of the ruins of an enormous, ancient sports arena. Bring comfortable shoes with you as you will be doing a fair amount of walking up and down the hills on which the city center is built.

View of the Amphitheater
Ornate Window on a Historic House in the Old Town
Walking the Cobblestone Streets
Virgin Mary Church

The first thing that you will notice is the striking architecture of the local homes that line the cobblestone streets. They have a definitive style based on the Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style and often feature vibrant colors and details around the windows that overlook the street. After walking through the ancient streets of the city’s old town, you will reach the large Roman amphitheater, which is remarkably well preserved. It is still used for concerts and events today and the college for the arts is located next to the entrance to the amphitheater.

Another Colorful Home
Model of the Stadium
Column Under the Walking Street
The Stage of the Amphitheater

As you continue to the main street that runs the length of the old town, you will be walking above the ruins of a huge stadium where chariot races were once held. There are various points along the street where you can see and even walk down into the ruins in order to get a closer look. The original stadium actually stretched the entire length of the street with the shops above, which gives you an idea of just how large the stadium was back when it was in use. We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch and enjoyed watching all of the tourists that were walking the street on a very busy day in Plovdiv.

Walking Up the Hill Towards the Heart of Old Town
Statue of Milo the Crazy
Another House
City Hall and Fountain

It takes 8 to 10 hours roundtrip to get to Plovdiv from Sofia since Plovdiv is located in central Bulgaria while Sofia is located in western Bulgaria. As with many places in Europe, Plovdiv is a combination of historic sites and a modern city. If it were possible, we would recommend planning your trip at a time when a concert was taking place in the amphitheater as it would make for a really unique experience. We certainly enjoyed our time walking the streets of the historic old town and seeing all of the interesting sites and buildings that are located there.

Sign Within Plovdiv
Seats for the Stadium that are Exposed Along the Street
Mural on One of the Walls
Such Interesting Architecture

Making the Most of a Short Stay in Lima, Peru

We didn’t have a lot of time during our visit to Lima, the capital of Peru, but we certainly made the most of the time that we did have. Our hotel was located next to the beaches on the coastline of the city, but we also took time to get into the historic district as well. The two locations couldn’t be more different, but they were definitely equally interesting for their own reasons. It was also our first experience in South America and we really enjoyed seeing some of the indigenous Quechua people in their traditional clothing, something that we would learn even more about during our time in Bolivia. Regardless of how much time you have when visiting Lima, these should certainly be on your itinerary when visiting this wonderful city.

Detailed Façade in Old Town
Looking Up at the Cathedral
Walking the Crowded Streets of the Historical Center
Plaza Mayor

The Historical Center of Lima – Old town in Lima, also referred to as the Historical Center, is probably most known for its colorful colonial buildings with their fascinating balconies, but there is certainly much more to see than just the architecture. To make the most of your time in the downtown area we would suggest starting out at the Plaza Mayor or the Main Square and then exploring out from there. There are palaces, the cathedral, official buildings, and other churches in the area, each uniquely beautiful. It is very walk-able and you will also find stores carrying tourist items as well as many different restaurants and cafés in the area.

Resorts along the Pacific Coast
Beachside Restaurants and Shops
Gentle Waves
It was a Beautiful Day

The Upscale Miraflores District – If you visit Lima, Peru, we would suggest staying in the Miraflores district. Miraflores is an upscale district that sits along the Pacific coastline with beautiful beaches, excellent restaurant choices, nice hotels, and it isn’t far from downtown Lima. Obviously, many people visiting Lima come specifically to enjoy the beaches and take advantage of the festive nightlife that is found in the area. Although we weren’t in Lima for a beach vacation, we did enjoy walking down to the beach, soaking up some sun, and grabbing a meal at one of the many outdoor restaurant patios.

Ceviche in Peru
Our First Pisco Sours
Steak and Avocado Sandwich
Beef Stir-Fry

Enjoying the Fusion Food and a Traditional Pisco Sour – Lima has become a “foodies” destination because of its reputation for wonderful food and celebrated chefs. One of the reasons that the food has become so popular is because many of the restaurants have taken traditional food of the region and blended it with food from around the world. There are so many options of restaurants to visit that we’d recommend talking to the locals and finding out where they’d recommend you eat. In addition to the food, having a traditional pisco sour is a perfect way to end your day or to start your evening festivities.

Peruvian Quechua Woman in Traditional Clothing
Intricate Balcony
Church Bell Tower
Church and Convent of San Francisco

Many people fly into Lima as they begin their adventure into Peru and make their way down to visit Machu Picchu. It is definitely worth taking the time to see the capital city of Lima, especially the wonderful architecture of the historical center. Although we didn’t have a lot of time in Lima, we certainly used our opportunity to see as much as we possibly could.

Mixing the Old with the New in Historic Cities

In almost every historic city that you visit, there will be an old town area where the buildings have been preserved. There is often another part of the city that is new and modern and they are usually in different parts of the city so that the traffic associated to tourists and that of the businesses can be kept separate from one another. Every now and then, though, you will find a historic building right in the middle of the modern skyscrapers. It is often a church, but not always as it could just be a historic landmark. The juxtaposition of the two can sometimes be visually interesting.

Church in Chicago with a Skyscraper Rising next to the Bell Tower
Old and New Side-by-Side in Cologne, Germany
Modern Paris as Seen from the Eiffel Tower
New Artistic Awnings in Old Cairo

We have seen several examples throughout our travels, especially in Germany where so much of the cities were rebuilt after WWII, but it certainly isn’t limited to European cities. We have seen many interesting examples here in the United States, especially in Chicago, which is a city with a rich history of its own. We find the contrasts to be so striking that we often pause to take a variety of photographs to capture the differences and similarities between the old and the new.

Another Bell Tower and Skyscraper Image, but in Denver
New and Old in Frankfurt
Apparently We Really Like Building Towers Transitioning to Skyscrapers
Gothic Church and Glass Tower