Text: Petya Bankova, intern in Lost in Plovdiv
Summer is the season of positive emotions and travel and by "travel" we don’t mean only those by car or plane. One alternative is to travel by train.
Recently, train travel has regained its former charm and is a preferred way of transport for both near and far destinations. And what better companion than an interesting book? The Read on the Train initiative makes the trip even more enjoyable with 10 free titles available on the BDZ website. The choice is not great, but more Bulgarian publishers and authors are expected to join the campaign. The trip from Plovdiv to Sofia or Stara Zagora suddenly becomes more enjoyable and goes smoothly with a book in your hand. And this is one of the positives of rail adventure, but it is not the only one.
Imagine the moment when the long-awaited vacation comes - the air seems to be lighter than before, your body is full of energy and ready for emotions. And instead of choosing a more expensive way of traveling, you choose the train. Going into the sleeping cars you see the colored carpets, blankets and accessories that are part of the joint campaign of BDZ and IKEA. And the journey becomes more fun and colorful. So far, this is possible only to destinations Burgas and Varna by night train from Sofia, but nothing prevents you from taking it from your beloved Plovdiv and giving yourself a well-deserved rest by the sea.
Traveling by train provides the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery not only during the summer but also during the other three seasons. One of the places you can visit is Velingrad - the spa capital of the Balkans. And to make it even more authentic and exciting, the trip involves a transfer from the Septemvri train station, from where you get on the famous Rhodope narrow-gauge line. The spa capital offers fresh air, mineral water, tranquility, Rhodope cuisine, and incredible nature. And if you get hungry on the road, you can enjoy something tasty from the wagon buffet.
Rail fares are another positive side - discounts of 25 to 75% for organized groups, students, and seniors. In some destinations, the difference in price is very large, and the difference in duration is nothing special. Traveling to Sofia by bus, for example, can cost you between 9 and 14 BGN and 2 hours of your time, and a train trip using a 50% discount will cost you 4.50 BGN with travel time only half an hour longer.
Trains can also be a great place for meeting people. Undoubtedly, many love stories and friendships began by traveling this way. You can listen to music, read books, talk and get to know one another because trains are a place where vanity and prejudice don’t matter.
"Get to know your country to love it" is a catchphrase that is especially true for railroads that offer travel to places we may not have even heard of. Cities and villages hiding in picturesque meadows, waterfalls and fresh air definitely sound seductive compared to car travel in traffic. Plovdiv is a popular destination which is also the reason for the availability of many trains and times of departure and arrival every day. And what is the choice of times and type of train - passenger or fast, if not another positive feature of train travel?
In addition to the aforementioned, the trains also offer space for walking while traveling. You don’t have to sit all the time like on buses, and you can enjoy the view outside the passenger compartment you are traveling in. You can walk around and rest at some stations where trains stay longer than the usual one or two minutes. And if you get bored with it anyway, you can always grab some of your favorite board games and play them with your friends and why not with complete strangers. As we have already mentioned - many friendships started on the train.
These are just a few reasons to make the journey you are considering and keep thinking you need a car or more money. Well, you already have more than one reason to do it, but all you need is motivation and a bag with little luggage.