Around the world by bike
(507km - 9days)
I could see straightaway that communication was going to be an even bigger problem as n Romania. Bulgarian is a Southern Slavic language using the Cyrillic alphabet. Interestingly enough Bulgarian was the first Slavic language to be written. A more modern version was standardised after Bulgaria became independent in 1878. More confusing was the fact that a single nod of the head indicated no while shaking the head side to side, indicated agreement. That, I can assure you is not an easy thing to get used to. I first discovered this behaviour after enquiring about a room, the side to side movement of the head, clearly indicated No and as I gathered my things to leave, the lady produced the room key. I looked at her total disbelieve as she has, only seconds before, told me that there were no rooms available (or so I thought)!
18 August - Silistra -Balcik - 85 km
Bulgaria measures 110,994 square kilometres roughly the same size as Malawi which I consider small. Eddie and I headed straight for Balchik a Black Sea coastal town and seaside resort and with its location on the shores of the Black Sea it was an easy choice. It was a distance of 136 km past farmlands, corn fields and sunflowers. Once in Balchik we found no camping and had cycle a further 15 km north to Kavarna to find a good spot on the shores of the lake. It was a lovely spot, and we waited no time and swam in the lukewarm waters of the Black Sea, absolute bliss after such a long day on the bicycle.
19 August - Kavarna
Spent the day on the beach and ran into Baltic Cycle group again - all of 60 cyclists, mostly from Poland. Had a good night trying to communicate. I thought the Black Sea a lake, but a closer look at my map did indeed reveal a connection to the ocean via The Bosphorus Strait, first to the Sea of Marmara, which is in turn connected to the Mediterranean via the Strait of the Dardanelles. It is large at 436 400 km2, and I was surprised to learn that it has a max depth of over 2 000 meters!
20 August - Kavarna - Kancija via Verna - 96 km
Finding one's way turned out somewhat tricky as most of the signboards were in Hungarian and impossible to read. The campsite we found in Verna was very basic but located on a good beach. We ran into Baltic cycles again as we were all looking for inexpensive camping. It was once again a great night out with Baltic Cycle who could party as hard as they cycled. The restaurant owner invited as over and produced some local drink and homemade wine. Local stuff really strong but helped to tolerate the mozzıe infested campsite.
21 August - Kamcija
We spent the entire day on the beach in the company of most of the Baltic cycle members. It appeared that communication miraculously improved in direct relation to the amount of Vodka consumed! Most nights we landed up at the same campsite, and they were fast becoming good friends.
22 August - Kamcija - Nesebar - 65 miles (104 km)
At the campground in Nesebar, we met a 70-year old German gentleman pushing a bike and trailer around the world. He started a year before we met him in Germany and was still going strong when we saw him! The bicycle had no seat or pedals meaning there he could not even jump on and freewheel on the downhills.
23 August - Nesebar
24 August - Nesebar - Yuk Camping - 96 km
Good thing the Baltic Cycle group told us where they will be camping as Yuk camping turned out to be the best campsite in the area. Along the way, we stopped in both Pomorie and Sozopol for a swim as it was still very hot and a good way to cool off.
25 August - Yuk Camping
The Baltic Cycle group moved on I spent the day on the beach trying to get rid of my cycle tan.
26 August - Yuk Camping - Border 75 km
Bulgaria is a country with diverse terrain encompassing the Black Sea coastline, a mountainous interior and once away from the coast it became extremely hilly. It was August, and still mid-summer, most days were sweltering hot, making for challenging riding. Flies were another problem and buzz in hordes around our heads, strangely reminding of cycling Ethiopia.
Just before the Turkish border Eddie and I cycled into a small village to pick up some refreshments but then decided to stay for the night. There was no campsite and no rooms for rent and were directed to the local hospital where we could sleep for the night. I had never stayed at a hospital before and somehow thought it is necessary to check I still had all my organs before leaving.