26 Jan 2014

Veliko Tarnovo and a Game of Thrones

Veliko Tarnovo and a Game of Thrones in Bulgaria

For the first missions of my Big Bulgaria Challenge I had to make my way to Veliko Tarnovo, a medieval city located in the heart of Bulgaria. It was mid winter and the city was covered under a beautiful blanket of snow.

The perfect setting to launch my challenge.

I had no clue whatsoever on what type of missions I'd get so I was a little bit nervous to be honest. That nervousness turned into excitement quite fast once I got the envelope with the first mission.

Here's what happened...

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My first mission of my Big Bulgaria Challenge

Your first mission will take you to the citadel of the capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom - 'Tarnovgrad'. Find the symbol below and you'll get your next task. You have 60 minutes. 

I took a picture of the mission and posted it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Within seconds there were people reacting getting back to me with the answer. The symbol is marked on the shield held by a lion at the entrance of a castle named 'Tsarevets'.

So now I had to figure out where this Tsarevets castle was located so I just asked a local and he pointed me in the right direction.

A Veliko Tarnovo local helping me out

After a short walk through the snow the castle appeared in the distance. Found it!

I then thanked Dries on Facebook for helping me out. 

Mission 1... CHECK! 

I continued my way by crossing an ancient bridge over a ravine all the way to the foot of the castle for my second mission.

Tsarevets castle bridge in Veliko Tarnovo

Once there it actually started snowing more

Snow at Tsarevets castle

So we took shelter and I learned about the dangers of Tsarevets castle and I got my second mission

My second mission on the Big Bulgaria Challenge

Here is what was written:
'You have some free time to walk around the complex, get yourself familiar with the history of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. But you'll have to find someone to help you with this simple question: There is a tower in the complex named after a Latin Emperor, captured in battle in 1205 and held hostage here. Which Bulgarian king captured him? Find the tower and learn the name and you'll have a place to sleep tonight.' 

Sound a lot like something that would happen in Game of Thrones don't you think? That Bulgarian king was Badass :-)

First thing I did was look for the biggest tower around and that was of course on top of the hill... So I climbed the hill all the way to the top. Turns out the tower is a church tower. Probably not much holding emperors captive going on in here...

The church of Tsarevets Castle

inside the church of Tsarevets Castle

Inside the church I got a message from Teddy Wanderlust on Twitter telling me that the Bulgarian King's name was Kaloyan and that he held Roman emperor 'Baldwin I' hostage.

So I had to find the dungeon where he was held. In the church I talked to an old lady and she explained me that the dungeon was way back on the foot of the hill... Obviously. :-)

On my way down I was lucky enough to make a new friend.

After another 5 minute walk through the snow I finally found the dungeon and thus completed my second mission!

The dungeon of Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Tarnovo

I really enjoyed exploring this castle and learning a bit about its history. I also heared a rumor about the wife of the king. She apparently paid the emperor secret visits in his dungeon from time to time... Truly fit for a Game of Thrones scenario.

After my little medieval adventure I decided to follow up the advice that Garry gave me on Twitter... ;-)

Find out what happened next...


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