Last Saturday there was a noisy thunderstorm early in the morning which left the air cool and clear. A perfect day for a 19 mile cycle ride from Hotnitsa to Nikopolis ad Istrum and back.
Nikopolis, founded by the Emperor Trajan is our local Roman remains site. I’m proud that it’s close to us and proud that nearby in 2006 the world’s oldest piece of worked gold was found. But I have to tell you that being brought up in Northumberland in the UK and spending every school trip looking at stones arranged in various ways on Hadrian’s Wall has finished me off with the Romans. I know it sounds as if I’m a Philistine.. well that’s as maybe. Onto the ride.
Take the well worn route to Resen from Hotnitsa and ride straight down the main street. Stopping for a quick espresso at the vending machine outside the shop on the left on the way through. Continue across the bridge and turn right at the cross roads. The terrain here is a steady pull up but manageable. At the top there is a lovely bit where you can coast down into Nikup, the village nearest to Nikopolis. Cycle through the village and after the area where people wash their cars and animals take a drink turn left along a narrow road which looks as if it’s going nowhere. We had to ask directions at this point. Further down this road there is a sign which was reassuring.
After the sign there’s a wonderful piece of road. It’s high up, the views are great and there is a feeling of space and history. It’s difficult not to think of all the people who’ve gone before us on that site .. Greeks, Romans Byzantines, Bulgarians. On the right there is a lake. On Saturday as we passed there were 4 elegant herons standing quite still and before long they were joined by 4 pure white egrets – magical.
If you go to Nikopolis it costs 6 lev to get in. There’s sometimes a guide available but if not there’s some information printed in English as well as Bulgarian. Currently there is a joint UK/Bulgarian dig going on there. However if like me you’ve seen enough Roman remains, take a picnic and sit near the lake while you eat. Stare across the water, watch the jumping frogs and swooping birds and then get back on your bike, restored and ready for the ride back.
I did take some photos on my camera but I don’t have the right cable to download them! However the stones looked like stones so you didn’t miss much but I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the egrets.