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Into Bulgaria – week one

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We were finally leaving Romania having spent 3 weeks and really enjoying it. We hadn’t planned to stay so long but the fridge repairs and the slow pace that we were travelling at made our stay a bit longer. This is our second venture into Bulgaria, the first being 2 years ago coming back from Turkey. We have found that going back into a country that you have been to before takes some of the apprehension out of it, you have a bit of an idea as what to expect. We left Romania at a town called Giuriu and had to cross the bridge over the Danube, which is being repaired and a toll applies for getting across. A bit confusing as to how much on the signs as it said 6 euros for cars and 12 for trucks but when we got to the booth the lady said 3 euro’s, we sighed with relief as some tolls class a motorhome as a truck. As the bridge had only one lane open we had a long delay as we waited for oncoming traffic to pass. The border crossing was easy but we were told to park to the side while he checked our passport and vehicle documents. As we waited on the side the other cars kept steaming by. This seems to be a pattern that we get a more intense scrutineering than the locals but after a few minutes he came back, gave us our documents and were into Bulgaria.

The campsite with a great view over the valley.

The campsite with a great view over the valley.

Veliko Tarnova

We headed to the campsite at Veliko Tarnovo as all the reviews in the blogs have been very positive.
Nick and Nicky run the campsite and are an English couple. The facilities are excellent and the staff could not have been more helpful, they made phone calls, organized taxis and arranged for a doctor for me to visit. The campsite has a bar and restaurant with plenty of variety on the menu.
The campsite is about 11 kms from the town of Veliko Tarnovo and you can easily drive or have a taxi take you there and back for about 6 euros each way.

Jenny cooked some bread on the barbeque, turned out perfectly.

Jenny cooked some bread on the barbeque, turned out perfectly.

The car boot sale at the campsite. These are held once a month on a Sunday.

The car boot sale at the campsite. These are held once a month on a Sunday.

Every month on a Sunday they have a car boot sale and we happened to be there when it was on. All sorts of things were on sale but nothing we could live without. We ended up staying 4 days there, which is longer than we expected but as luck would have it with our camping card, stay for 4 days and pay for 3.

Jenny in Veliko Tarnovo

Jenny in Veliko Tarnovo

Graffiti we saw as we wandered the streets.

Graffiti we saw as we wandered the streets.

A very strange looking hotel. The bottom looks deserted and the top is still in use.

A very strange looking hotel. The bottom looks deserted and the top is still in use.

Monument with the town in the background.

Monument with the town in the background.

Other Aussie’s on the campsite.

It has been a nearly 6 weeks since we have had a good conversation with some fellow Australians and at the campsite it was good to spent some time with Chantal and Cameron, a young couple who have been working in Edinburgh and are now travelling through Europe in a small car and a tent.
They have a blog site of their travels so check it out “leedersontour”.

Cameron and Chantal, fellow Aussies at the campsite. It was good to talk to people who spoke the same lingo. Thank's guys for the company and conversation.

Cameron and Chantal, fellow Aussies at the campsite. It was good to talk to people who spoke the same lingo. Thank’s guys for the company and conversation.

Hip update.

While we were at the campsite Nicky arranged for Ewout to visit a doctor in town, the taxi took us straight to the door and even spoke to the doctor to let him know we were there. The doctor was friendly and he examined me, crunched my back and gave me a script for some more tablets. It all sounded good but a few days later there was no improvement. At the car boot sale a Dutchman I was talking to who lives in town suggested a therapist/massage lady by the name of Severina.
Again the staff at the campsite give the lady a call and a taxi was arranged to drop us off and show us where it was. She was very good and things are now on the improve with Ewout getting some sleep at night and moving much better without pain. We ended up going back three times with Jenny having a massage as well. The cost of a massage, which took 75 minutes each session was about $20 Au, excellent value for money.

We saw this field as we were driving and had to sop to take a few photos. Jenny took lots but here is only 3.

We saw this field as we were driving and had to sop to take a few photos. Jenny took lots but here is only 3.

Jenny a petal amongst the flowers.

Jenny a petal amongst the flowers.

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Exploring for a couple of days.

We decide to leave the campsite but still had one more massage session to complete so we set off to explore some places in the nearby area. After the massage on Tuesday [30th June] we headed in the direction of Krushuna where we have been told that there are some interesting waterfalls. As it was late we didn’t quite get there but found a great spot on a small river next to a picturesque bridge. It was a really quiet spot and in the morning we were woken by the sound of cows passing by as a young man was moving them along the river bank.

Sometimes you find some great wild camping spots. In Bulgaria we found many. This one had a great view of the river and the bridge.

Sometimes you find some great wild camping spots. In Bulgaria we found many. This one had a great view of the river and the bridge.

Great view and very quiet. We only saw a man leading cows along the river in the morning.

Great view and very quiet. We only saw a man leading cows along the river in the morning.

A very busy day.

After travelling along some Bulgaria backroads for a while we reached the carpark of the waterfall. Our carpark fee and entrance fee came to 6Levs or $4 or 3euros, not very expensive. It was a short walk to the falls and being early there weren’t many people around. It must get busy during the summer and holidays as there were plenty of souvenir shops and cafés, only a few of which were open at the time. The waterfalls reminded is a bit of the Krka falls in Croatia with the water very clear and the travertine making interesting ponds.

It was a pleasant walk and the waterfalls were a treat. Felt like diving in and having a swim.

It was a pleasant walk and the waterfalls were a treat. Felt like diving in and having a swim.

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Our next stop was a town called Lovech this place is said to be a local tourist mecca and has a covered bridge with shops on it. When we arrived we found an easy park close to the bridge and near to an old Roman Bathhouse. There were no tourists flocking to the town today and even on the bridge we only saw a handful of people. We had lunch is a nice restaurant, we have found out that eating out in Bulgaria is very cheap so it is a chance to sample the local fare. We went all out and had 2 drinks, pita bread, a Greek salad, a pork and mushroom hotpot and another pork dish served in a gondola shaped bowl. All this for about $18 or 12 euros which also included my generous tip. Needless to say we didn’t have much for tea that night still being full from lunch.

Some of the villages we passed through looked a bit run down.

Some of the villages we passed through looked a bit run down. The road need a bit of attention!

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In Lovech we parked next to this building. When we went to investigate it was an old Roman bath house that had been renovated and turned into a museum with free entry.

In Lovech we parked next to this building. When we went to investigate it was an old Roman bath house that had been renovated and turned into a museum with free entry.

The covered bridge with shops.

The covered bridge with shops.

Entrance to the bridge.

Entrance to the bridge.

If this was the Ponte Vecchio in Florence we would be crammed in. Here there was only 5 people on the bridge when we where there.

If this was the Ponte Vecchio in Florence we would be crammed in. Here there was only 5 people on the bridge when we where there.

We left Lovech and headed to the Karlukovo caves of which we were told about by the Aussie couple Chantal and Cameron. We found the signage was dismal, after following the directions from town that were in English they seemed to stop and the only signage was in Bulgarian. We stopped and looked at a small hut that said “Information” but was empty and had no information.

The NO information hut. It was empty and had not even a signboard. It was a very cute building.

The NO information hut. It was empty and had not even a signboard. It was a very cute building.

We took a punt and found one of the two car parks which lead to the caves, one is a short walk and the other is quite a trek down from a café car park through an overgrown path. You can guess which one we found! It only took about 20 minutes and the caves were worth the effort as you can see in the photos.

The walk to the caves. Of course we chose the long way. It was pleasant and we had a chance to walk off our big lunch.

The walk to the caves. Of course we chose the long way. It was pleasant and we had a chance to walk off our big lunch.

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We left the caves and drove towards Troyan along a back road, past a lake and alongside a forest looking for a spot for the night. In the forest we found a small clearing and relaxed for the night after a very, very busy day. When darkness approached we were entertained by the fireflies as they flew around us giving off flashes of light. This was the end to a very busy day.

Roadsign, no horse and carts allowed.

Roadsign, no horse and carts allowed.

We drove back to Veliko Tarnovo driving into the towns of Tryan and Sevlivo on the way. It was Ewout’s final massage session and we also wanted to sort out sim card which was not working anymore. We had bought the sim card from Viva Com and it was for 10 days with 1.2 GB’s of data. It worked fine for two days, then nothing. We have had mixed results from sim cards, some are great others like in Greece where data disappeared even when the sim card was not in the tablet. This was also the case here, despite our device saying we had only used a small amount of the data the lady at the phone shop made enquiries and told us that we had used our 1.2 GB’s in 2 days. We had only checked emails, Facebook and some google searches. The card only cost $10 but we felt ripped off once again. We have now bought another data card from Tec and this cost us $7 with 2.1 GB’s for 7 days, here’s hoping that it will last.

Highway to the danger zone. Ride into the danger zone. We thought about the Top Gun song as we saw these signs. They warn of a approaching intersection.

Highway to the danger zone. Ride into the danger zone. We thought about the Top Gun song as we saw these signs. They warn of a approaching intersection.

The view just before the forest where we stayed overnight.

The view just before the forest where we stayed overnight.

Our overnight place for the night was a side road near to a small power station. The clouds came over and we had a heavy shower of rain, and speaking of showers, Ewout stripped down and decided to shower outside. He did keep his jocks on and the place was secluded, this he has done a few times on the trip but unfortunately due to the G rating of the blog no photographic evidence is available. Again in the evening the fireflies came out, glowing as they surrounded us.

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