My guide book didn't have a map of Plovdiv. It mentioned how impressive the old town was but gave no clue about how to find it. I wandered irritably around town and wondered if I'd have to leave without seeing it, when I suddenly chanced upon a narrow flight of steps which led up a hill. I went up, and found myself in what felt like an entirely different city, far from the concrete and traffic of the new town. Quiet cobbled streets were lined with grand restored buildings.
I found my way to the top of the hill of Nebet Tepe, where the old Byzantine city walls lie in ruins. There were people hanging around here playing music, painting, smoking and chilling in the hot sun. I sat on the walls and looked out over new Plovdiv below. Far to the south I could see the snow-capped Rodopi Mountains, with just a few rising columns of smoke from some city factories interrupting my view.