To the coast

Sept. 9, 2011 (day 114) Bulgaria

Bulgaria welcomed us with sunny weather, good asphalt roads and generally relaxed atmosphere. After the sharp Romanian contrasts between rich and poor, tasty folk art and plastic kitch, hospitable villagers and stupid drivers, the ambience of southern neighbour could seem boring. Indeed, Bulgaria seems to be a place rather to calm down and relax, than to experience intensive emotions. Sparsely populated, offering predictable, sunny climate, it is a place of choice for numerous westerners, mostly British, to retire and enjoy more comfort for much lower price, than in their homeland.

I should say we have rushed through this country. Having rested after Romania, we cut into the middle of Bulgaria, crossed Stara Planina, and headed straight to the Black Sea. It took only four days to get to the coast, including two significant daily distances of 125 and 150km.

Sincerely, I regret we have not spent more time here. Bulgaria offers some really nice places to see inland, but most of them are located along the western borders of the country, quite far away from our route. I hope to see them another time, perhaps visiting Macedonia too. In terms of running time, we just could not afford going there. Kasia has to return home before the end of September, and Istanbul seems to be a good place to fly from. I would like to cross Turkey before autumn chills begin, and before the day gets really short. Also, the expiration date of my Syrian visa could matter soon.

Bulgarian houses usually covered with rooftiles

Bulgarian houses usually covered with rooftiles

Bulgarians are Slavs, at least in the terms of the language. That means we could understand a little bit, and speaking Polish was bringing positive results. Although we have not camped in anyone's garden, the contacts with locals seemed very positive. Life seems to have a slower pace here (except for the main roads) and everybody understands the need of relax, which is somehow common for South-European nations. Of course the coffee is widespread, cheap and usually good, which makes me happy a lot.

Veliko Tarnovo climbs the hills

Veliko Tarnovo climbs the hills

At the visual level, Bulgaria did not offer many highlights. We usually cycled through hills, dotted by occasional villages, which looked very similar, one to another. Their red, tiled roofs were a positive change after eternite and other cheap stuff, widespread in Romania, Ukraine and also in Poland. The only mountain range, Stara Planina, offers no stunning views — at least around the Vratnik pass, where we crossed it.

The unexplained mystery of this country is water. While the rivers were standing still, or even exposing their dry bottoms, and the grass had already been burned by the sun into yellowish hay, Bulgaria enjoys countless springs. Every day we encountered many places where fresh water just sprinkled from a pipe or stone wall. While the surface looks dry as tinder, and makes one fear starting a huge firestorm while cooking without care, under the ground there seems to be an unlimited reservoir of fresh, tasty water.

Bar with local foods

Bar with local foods

Across these lands, we finally reached the Black Sea, the fourth sea on my way. There, in Burgas, we met Iwo, another member of our bike tourers' forum. He had just came back from Turkey, and waited for us there for entire day. We spent the evening and night on the city beach, sleeping on the sand, and exchanging tips about the lands we would visit soon. Having swapped the maps, we cycled away in opposite directions. Iwo headed north, to reach Poland through Romania and Ukraine, and we cycled to Sozopol, a beach resort on the southern shore of the Burgas Bay.

Iwo's sunrise breakfast

Iwo's sunrise breakfast

This has been my first visit at the Black Sea, and I admit that someone must have joked with it's name. I have never seen such crystal clear sea water. Nothing strange, that for decades Bulgaria was the top holiday destination for the people of the Eastern Bloc. Not only clean, but also hot, the sea water was just a wonderful mean to relax after last days of hard cycling. The September sun, balanced by the chilling effect of the sea, did not feel like burning anymore. I guess I will rethink my route through Turkey, to visit the northern coast at least for a moment.

Comments:

Hania / mumum
Hania / mumum
10 years, 1 month ago
wczoraj mój Łukasz dał mi linka do Twojego bloga i przeczytałam dotychczasowe notki w dwa podejścia :)

bardzo fajnie piszesz, zdjęcia też super, no i sama wyprawa imponująca :) trzymam kciuki, żeby wszystko dobrze szło/jechało ;) i od dzisiaj będę codziennie zaglądać czy aby nie napisałeś czegoś nowego o kolejnym etapie swej nieprawdopodobnej podróży :)

pozdrawiam,
mumum
azbest87
azbest87
10 years, 1 month ago
W Bułgarii bardzo miło wspominam przejazd przez Strandżę zaraz koło której jesteście:) i spotkanie z polskim księdzem misjonarzem w miejscowości Malko Tarnovo (też niedaleko was) u którego można z sukcesem szukać noclegu na tym odludziu:)
Pozdro!