Melina and David were also heading west in the general direction of Sofia so as David had been having problems with his bike I suggested we travel together in case of further issues, though he was pretty sure the problem was now fixed. We weren’t in a hurry so we took the scenic route through the Central Balkan National Park. The road was fantastic, long twisty corners and short straights with hardly any traffic. As we got higher we passed through patches of low cloud before arriving at the summit.
There was a lot of low cloud still about but it was lifting and revealing some amazing views all around. There is no wild camping in the Bulgarian national parks but there are strategically placed huts in which it is free to stay for a night or two. We found this out from some backpackers we met on the peak and got talking to. It was far too early to stop for the night but I when I come back this way again I will check them out.
After leaving the national park behind we continued westwards until mid-afternoon when we stopped for a drink and something to eat at a small cafe somewhere east of Sofia. By now, Davids trust in his bike had been restored and the two of them decided to head south west. I was heading due west to Sofia to get my bike serviced so it was time to say our goodbyes and split up.
I crossed back into Serbia a couple of days later at a quiet, remote border near a small Bulgarian village named Vranje. Border crossings are generally hassle free and apart from the language barrier caused few problems so as I approached this one I was pretty relaxed. There were no other vehicles around and as I reached the barrier it lifted up, so I continued through. Sat on a bench to the left of the road was what I took to be the border officer. I was looking at him waiting for him to tell me to stop, or move, or show some evidence of being alive but none was forthcoming. I gave him the thumbs up and when he didn’t respond I took that to mean ok, in typical understated border guard fashion, I mean he didn’t tell me to stop so I slowly continued. What I more sensed than actually saw was Frau Farbissina running and waving out the door to the building behind me on the right, I heard her though;
Or the Bulgarian equivalent. So I stopped, and reversed the 3 metres or so looking my most apologetic. I handed over my passport but that wasn’t enough, she also asked to see my bike documents, the first time anyone had done so, so now I thought she had it in for me. I don’t normally get asked for anything but my passport so for safety everything else is locked away in a pannier. I get off my bike, unlock the pannier and dig around to find my V5, eventually handing it over. She took my passport and V5 and disappeared into her little office and I waited. The guy that I thought was the border officer had by now wondered over to the other side, maybe he didn’t want to be anywhere near Frau either. After a few minutes, she was back looking a bit more mellow, handed me my documents and attempted a smile, so I grinned back, said my thank you’s and promptly left.