Bulgaria Part 2

 

Finally autumn had arrived and within one month we slowly travelled from the west of Bulgaria through the mountains to the black sea in the east. On the way we stopped at two very beautiful caves: Prohodna and Devetashka.

Devetashka cave

We met Fenny & Totti again and through them we also got to know Silke & Jan. The six of us travelled to Zheravna, marveled at another massive concrete monument in Shumen, explored the Ovech fortress, stopped at the “stone forest” and finally watched some sunsets and sunrises at the black sea. To the surprise of all of us we witnessed bioluminescence in the waves at night and also while walking on the beach – it’s just amazing to see!

Zheravna
Shumen monument

In the middle of November we decided that we don’t feel comfortable to travel around in any of the neighboring countries because all of them had much stricter Covid-19 restrictions (including night curfews) than Bulgaria. Silke & Jan had already rented a house near Veliko Tarnovo for the winter months and as we got along very well we decided to join them and share the costs. 

The two made a video about the winter in Bulgaria which also includes many scenes together with us. You can watch it here.

Veliko Tarnovo: view towards the Tsarevets fortress (left) and the city center (right)
New Year’s Eve in Veliko Tarnovo. We both haven’t seen as much firework in many years

So for several months we had a winter base in Bulgaria. We brought the car to the mechanic several times and he took care of several broken or worn parts. As we kept adding electronic equipment to our car during the trip it was all rather messy and improvised. At our winter base we finally took the time to reorganize and homogenize the electric cables in our van. We also added another battery for more capacity and upgraded our sliding door with a shelf-system. In December there were no signs of snow and it was still rather warm so we had really good hiking conditions and did some lovely small hikes in our area. In the beginning of the new year some snow arrived and we enjoyed several trips within wintery Bulgaria.

evening mood at Trojan Pass
hiking up to the Shipka monument

Spring 2021 was unusually cold, wet and unpleasant. We used the time for some personal projects. Luckily we were able to get a vaccination against Covid19 in Bulgaria. As a result we postponed our „re-start“ of traveling for a few weeks. After the two-week waiting period we got back on the road and headed to North Macedonia.

 

NOTES & ANECDOTES

 

in the Bulgarian language you can form a grammatically correct sentence with just one word: “Закъснявам” = I am running late

we thought we had lost our red cleaning broom. After driving around for several days we found it again – on the roof of our car

on our coldest morning when it was -20°C our starter battery refused to deliver enough energy to start… as we slept on the mountain pass we started the car by letting it roll down the mountain with the second gear engaged and then releasing the clutch so as to ignite the engine. (German: das Auto anrollen)

when we arrived in Bulgaria we already knew the Cyrillic alphabet – which was a huge plus! As we spent so much time in Bulgaria we also participated in an online class to learn the language.

we are both cat people. Needless to say that we loved it that in the houses we stayed we always had cats who joined our daily life. Finally some cat cuddling again!!

In Bulgarian bakeries you mainly get savory snacks like Banitza (filled rolls) or pizza slices. But no good bread. If you want to buy decent bread you unfortunately have to go to Lidl or Kaufland…

To our very surprise it took us 15 months before we lost the first lens cap. In Bulgaria it finally happened – we lost one at Edgar’s bucket-list-location “Buzludzha”

sorry to say but in Bulgaria we have experienced the worst customer service so far. That is not to say that it’s all terrible – some shops offer really good customer services.

in Bulgaria the head gesture for “yes” or “no” is almost the opposite to Central Europe. If a Bulgarian wants to gesture a “yes” he or she will tilt the head to the left and to the right which at first looks like a head shake. If they gesture a “No” they tilt the head up and back.

when Bulgarians talk to each other it sounds as if they are arguing or fighting.

as you need a vignette on almost every normal road you are practically forced to buy one. Motorways are also included in the vignette. Because of this we drove on motorways more often than we usually do.

outside of the UK we never saw as many right-hand drive cars in Europe. In Bulgaria used cars from the UK used to be the cheapest.

Bulgaria is a good country to get repairs done on our Volkswagen T4. It is still very common here. As a result spare parts are widely available.

we really like it that most traffic light have a countdown

in the evening or during the nights we often heard jackals howl and sometimes also a wolf

 

 

NUMBERS

 

we spent approximately 10 months in Bulgaria

Exchange rate (16.07.2020): 1 Euro = 1,95LEV (Bulgarian Leva)

in Bulgaria we had a mix of sleeping in our car, at the Workaway and in houses

diesel price was between 0,84€ in the beginning and around 1 Euro in the end

we drove approximately 13231km in Bulgaria

we spent 9 Euro per person per day. The daily costs do not include fixed costs like car insurance + taxes and travel health insurance.

we went to a mechanic 10 times. Once again we benefitted from the cheap labor costs and had some (overdue) maintenance done.

road condition: ranging from 5 to 8 (out of 10 points); from good tarmac to rather bad roads with large potholes.

driving style / manners: respectful, friendly driving and mostly mild overtaking. If only they wouldn’t get so close to our car when overtaking…