I crossed the border into Bulgaria in the mountains at a place called Makaza, just north of Komotini. It’s a small crossing but was quite busy. It would be very picturesque if not for the river of rubbish running along both sides of the road. It was proving very difficult to get any scenic pictures without including a mountain of plastic bottles, bags and miscellaneous nondescript wrappers.
A few kilometres into Bulgaria and my first stop is in the city of Kardzhali. It’s what you would expect an Eastern European city to look like; modern new buildings next to neglected old buildings, tower blocks everywhere you look, big Mercedes and even an old Trabant. I found a cheap hotel, surrounded by apartment blocks and booked in. The area may not look much but the hotel was excellent and very comfortable, and the food was fantastic.
Sach might be more suited to a cold winters day, but I still enjoyed it.
The next day I continued north but staying of the main roads. I was following a trail along twisty narrow roads, single track roads and gravel paths.
Faced with many forks in the road I invariably chose the wrong one and had to backtrack and take the alternate route many times. The road ascended into the mountains and became more rutted. Whilst stopped for a rest a local wandered up in an attempt, I assume, to see what I was doing there, I guess they don’t see many tourists up here.
With my total lack of Bulgarian, and his total lack of English we did manage to converse to some degree. I think he was trying to tell me that this road was a dead end and that I should go back. But the trail was marked on my map and sat nav so I persevered thinking “How bad could it be?”. As it turned out, very bad and it wasn’t long before I was returning back down the way I came, passing my new friend with a smug “I told you so” look on his face.
What with the slow trails and the back tracking I didn’t actually cover many miles today, in fact when I stopped in Haskovo that night I was only about an hour from Kardzhali. I spent the evening watching the lightning overhead and the bleached dry road turn into a river in a matter of minutes.