I came to Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, three days ago with one goal- visiting the Buzludzha Monument. Opened in 1981, the monument was built by the communists to serve as their party headquarters. With the fall of communism a decade later the building was abandoned and has sat decaying ever since. It is just so odd on so many levels that I was completely drawn to it when I first discovered it online.
Buzludzha is in a somewhat isolated area and getting there is a challenge, as there are no means of public transportation to the area. As a visitor this means either going on a tour there or renting a car and driving. Finding other guests at my hostel with an interest in going there was not hard and as a group we arranged to rent cars to get there. Seeing as how I was one of only two people out of nine with a driver's license and of the age to actually sign for a car, I became one of the drivers by default.
Here's a confession: I never properly learned how to drive a manual transmission car. My experience with a stick was mostly limited to the 1994 Suzuki Swift I owned with my neighbors which functioned as a glorified go kart. This is best displayed in this video.
Turns out the rental car was a manual. I had to figure out how to drive a stick real quick or at least figure out to how to fake the funk. I managed to get us there and back with only two near death experiences and stalling the car just once in town. The group survived and Buzludzha was an incredible place to explore and climb around. It was worth the trip to Bulgaria to see.