Shumen - Home Of The Bulgarian Brewers
"Another Railway Station Visit!"
The snow in Varna had put paid to my planned expedition to search for a Stalin manhole cover - the city had been renamed in 1949 to commemorate Stalin's 70th birthday before reverting back to its proper title in 1956 and according to my researches there are manhole covers dating back to this period somewhere in the older part of town.
So finding myself at a bit of a loose end I decided to have a day trip out to Shumen for the simple reason that Shumen is the home of one of Bulgaria's first commercial breweries. Seemed a good idea at the time - if I couldn't find my manhole covers then I might as well have a few beers instead.
My intention had been to arrive early lunchtime, have a wander round, then a late-ish lunch (with of course a few pivos) and head back that afternoon.
Arriving at Shumen I found it rather prettily covered in about five inches of fresh snow which, whilst pleasant on the eye, was kindof inconvenient for the feet.
A short stroll in the little park in front of the railway station confirmed that my normal wandering style of tourism just wasn't going to happen. There were a couple of trains back to Varna scheduled to depart within the next 45 minutes and then after that not for another three hours.
Oh well back to the railway station and a very quick beer before catching the ten-past one train.
This was one of those times that my lack of language skills caused a little amusement for the train conductor. I could have caught the direct train at 12.40 but that wouldn't have given me time for a beer and so had opted for the slower, slightly later, journey.
Having had my beer at one of the station cafes I went to buy my ticket about 1 o'clock. The woman selling the tickets said something which I just didn't understand at all and when she handed my ticket I noticed it was for the 12.40 train. I tried to explain that I had the wrong ticket but she seemed adamant that I had the correct ticket.
Anyway the train marked Varna-Shumen-Varna was at its platform as marked on the departure board and so I boarded it. 1.10 came and went and the train showed no signs of movement. About half-past another train pulled into the station and there was an announcement over the tannoy mentioning the word "Varna". That had me confused.
There were a couple of women in my compartment and so I pointed to my ticket, first explaining that I wasn't Bulgarian, and asked "Varna?". I got a shake of the head in response and "Da, Da Varna."
The other train then departed and our train still didn't seem to be going anywhere.
Finally, about 2 o'clock, our train set off and at least it was going in the correct direction. The conductor came round to check the tickets and on looking at mine had a quick chuckle before explaining (if I got the gist correct) that my ticket was for the 12.40 which was running late and that the train that I'd seen come and go I should have gotten.
Ach well, such is life and I was in no hurry anyway - those manhole covers would still be covered in snow when I got back.