Kazanlak is a small city in the wide valley on the Southern side of the Balkan mountains. Geographically, it is almost in the exact center of Bulgaria, three hours on a fast train from the capital, and about the same distance from the Black sea resort city of Burgas.
The valley is nicknamed Rose Valley for it being the center of Bulgarian rose oil industry. The vast fields of roses are blooming in the end of May and the first week of June is the time of the traditional Rose Harvest Festival, but Kazanlak definitely worth a visit other times of the year too.
I got here on Easter, in the second half of April, and the whole city was blooming in white. Many if not most trees lining the city streets are fruit trees and they were all covered in little white blossoms this time of the year. Kazanlakians seem to enjoy their status of the flower capital of the country — there is an abundance of seasonal flowers everywhere, both in public spaces and on private land.
Kazanlak is a compact, perfectly walk-able city with amazing (by Eastern European standards) bike infrastructure. There are even bike lanes leading outside of the city, through the fields of rose and lavender, all the way to the Shipka Pass.
There are two easy and well marked trails to the Liberty Memorial on top of the Shipka peak. One starts right behind the Shipka Memorial Temple in the town of Shipka (about 15 minutes on bus route №6 from Kazanlak) on the Southern slopes of the Balkan mountains. The other — next to the Ethnographic Complex Etar in the city of Gabrovo on the Northern slopes of the mountains. Both are marked white-green-white. The Northern one is a little bit easier, but the Southern is a little shorter.