Diary - Bulgaria

Sunday 17th February 2002

Starting point: Velniko Turnovo, Hungary
Ending point: Edirne, Turkey
Distanced travelled: 191 miles

It would seem that Bulgaria either has a major problem or that the officials are all completely paranoid, either way we decided not to hang around for too long to find out. We were also keen to get to Turkey so we could e-mail and try and progress the documentation for going through Pakistan. Our hotel provided breakfast, but in true Bulgarian style, it was incredibly confusing. We weren't sure what was included in the price and what wasn't and nobody spoke even a word of English so we frugually chose the cheapest thing from the menu, sure that we'd have to pay for it ourselves. Typically enough when the food arrived it was a lot smaller than it looked in the picture and it turns out that we could have chosen as much as we wanted - oh well. Made a feeble attempt to explore the vaguely picturesque town before heading out of it, but ended up almost getting stuck down some very narrow cobbled streets and decided just to head on to the border. We travelled up and over some seemingly very high mountains - our GPS reading over 4000 ft when we stopped for lunch and to check on the oil leak. The view was stunning. The Bulgarian-Turkish border was even more complicated than the last but at least all the officials were friendly and spoke some English - they were all quite excited to see us and asked whether we were part of the 'Camel Trophy'. We had to get our Carnet de Passage filled out for the first time, which was complicated in itself and involved queuing up at various different desks, and obtain our visas for £10 each. The whole process was considerably slowed by the fact that we'd arrived just behind a coachload of Bulgarians. We drove on to the nearest town - Edirne and found a random, but friendly-looking hotel for $10 for the room, quite reasonable as the room included TV, shower and a pair of rubber shoes (we realised what the rubber shoes were for when we went to the bathroom). Went out for a kebab (the best I've ever had) and then a beer - in that order - novel!