Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Day 5 to 14 - Vize to Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria). 357km (Total - 547km)

What a difference a border crossing makes!  It definitely feels like we're back in Europe now - the mosques have been replaced with churches, the European Union flag is pretty much everywhere and tea drinking on the street seems to have been replaced by a 9am beer o clock - by the locals that is, not us. :-) 

Enjoying a LARGE bottle of Bulgarian beer

We've been in Bulgaria just over a week now and unfortunately the hospitality we experienced in Turkey seems to be a thing of the past - as we pass through the small hamlets and villages en route, we are met more with suspicious glares than friendly greetings.  That said, we had a wonderful couple of days with our friend Simon's in-laws, Keith & Sue, who moved from Lancaster to the small town of Granitovo, just north of the Turkish border, a few years back.  Having tried unsuccessfully to master Bulgarian, it was wonderful to be amongst English speakers again & felt like we'd known them for years.

Arriving in Granitovo for a well needed rest

Apart from the odd busy stretch, the route has been pretty great & taken us through lots of countryside & rolling hills.  The last 60km crossed a mountain range & thanks to a tip-off from Keith we managed to follow the river and therefore avoid the steepest routes.  That said, we still felt the strain & the reality of getting on the bike & cycling every day has really kicked in.  We're now resting up in the peaceful city of Veliko Tarnovo - a beautiful old city that apparently was once the capital of Bulgaria.

There are many horse and carts along the way

Beautiful wild flowers en-route

We've tried unsuccessfully to camp along the way - there's been no camp site so far & when we ask locals about pitching up on their land their reluctant faces tell us its best to move on.  Luckily the hotels here are very cheap, but we can't wait to get the tent up, especially after carrying it up all those hills!

One of our road-side supporters
First 500km on the clock, yay!

Next stop Romania, possibly in 3 or 4 days time, depending on where we decide to cross the Danube.  Big thanks to everyone who's sponsored us so far, the folk at New Life Foundation are in touch regularly and very grateful for all contributions :-)  www.simplygiving.com/istanbultoamsterdam 


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