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New Europe

Day Thirty-seven: Plovdiv to Edirne

The Turkish-Bulgarian border 
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At the Turkish-Bulgarian border trucks wait to head west.
Michael Palin - New Europe I take a taxi the few miles into the nearby city of Edirne. Flanking the four-lane autoroute are a scattering of functional buildings, small hotels and modest houses flying big red flags bearing the star and crescent moon of Turkey, an oddly Islamic symbol for a secular republic with no official religion.

Going the other way, a long line of trucks moves slowly westward. Whatever
the outcome of their government's bid to join the European Union, Turkey's businessmen seem to be there already.

A first and quite thrilling glimpse of the skyline of Edirne, dominated by the massive domes and soaring minarets of one of the finest mosques in the world.

Closer up the city is less dramatic. The streets are busy, the lights are coming on and shoppers are out in force. There are supermarkets in the main street and in the side streets people sell fruit and vegetables off the back of pick-up trucks. Our hotel is tucked away amongst a cluster of low buildings of varying ages and states of repair. Inside it's like a small museum. Big, comfortable, old-fashioned armchairs and sofas are surrounded by all sorts of period bric-a-brac. Adding machines, sewing machines, an old steam iron, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, a trumpet. It's a time-capsule of the 1930s.

An open fire rounds off the distinct impression of not being in Turkey at all, but a thousand miles away. In England.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Thirty-seven: Plovdiv to Edirne
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Edirne
  • Book page no: 91

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