Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Day 70 - Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

The student group went out of a night on the town leaving just a few of us behind at the hostel, Spiros from Greece and Sebastian and Fabian from France made it their duty to ensure that I had plenty of "just one glass" of beer, then at midnight they decided to have a barbecue and forced my to stay and eat, so much for an early night!

I still managed an early start, up at 5:30 and away from Bucharest at 6:30, and it paid off as it was really easy getting out of the city. I chose a route past Ceausescu's Palace again and it was still amazing. Heading out of the city I passed literally hundreds of decaying, crumbling blocks of flats that must have been there since before 1984 when the contruction of the palace was started, which makes the folly of building such a Palace even more incredible when so many people are living in such desperate conditions. I had a tail wind for the first 40k and fairly flew along without any effort, but as soon as I turned onto another road heading south I paid the price as I was directly into the wind, which must have turned, and from there on it was hard work and slow all the way. I arrived at the Romanian border town in good time which is just as well as I couldnt find the border control. It was another 8km away over the other side of town, with not a single signpost, until it was downright bleeding obvious! When I stopped to ask the way some just shrugged their shoulders when I asked for the border and Bulgaria, but I took that as not understanding me rather than not knowing where Bulgaria was. Even then the route felt like you were entering a ferry terminal and seemed to go on forever. The border was a very long bridge over the river Danube (I think). As soon as I was in Bulgaria the money changers were after me and trying to rip me off. I was offered 32 lev for my 80 lei so I refused and it was upped to 40, then 50 was shouted out as I cycled away. Ruse looked an industrial dump as I entered the town and I was only heading for the centre for a bank, but the centre was really nice, spacious and relaxed with a very large pedestrianised area with street cafes everywhere, so having already ridden over 100k and deciding I liked the place afterall I booked into a hotel rather than going another 60k to a possible campsite. I spent the afternoon going to banks and getting a general feel for the place and already it appears to be much cheaper than Romania. A 500ml bottle of beer in the shops is as low as 16p so that's good enough for me.

Today I had a lie in to make the most of the breakfast I had paid for, but breakfasts dont come much smaller than the one they served up and I stopped after less than 1km for another one. I was glad of the lie in though as when I looked out of the window I was amazed to see it raining. By the time I set off it had stopped though. What looked on the map to be a smallish road was big and busy so I got off on to the lanes which passed through villages. The scenery was surprisingly like England and so was the weather as it was cold, 17 degrees, and overcast and the rain set in for good during the afternoon. Whilst the temperature had been in the 40s I had been dreaming of this day, but when it arrived I wasnt so keen. Having said that, once I was wet and knew I would stay that way I began to enjoy it. I was heading towards mountains, but the visibility was so bad that I almost bumped into them. I had intended camping but it was so wet I took the easy comfy option of a hotel. There are lots of campsites marked on the map and I should have passed about 4 today but didnt see any evidence of a single one.

The are plenty of estate agents here and prices are quoted in Euros and pounds. If you have 70,000 pounds to spare it will buy you a lovely house over here. There also seem to be lots of English people here so I suspect there is a link there somewhere.

I thought I had been travelling a quite a leisurely pace until Lorna mentioned that I had been to 10 countries in 68 days, now it seems to me to be a bit rapid. Things will change when I enter Turkey though as from then on all the countries are much bigger and I would expect to be a few weeks in each.

Tomorrow I have a climb up through the mountians so I am hoping the weather is somewhere between todays and the heatwave.

1 comment:

Caff said...

Wow, you've had rain - how does it feel, has it reached as high as your chest yet? You better take some pictures I've completely forgotten what rain looks like, we haven't had any for a good........couple of days!
So, this bbq you were "forced" to participate in were there any sausages by any chance, Johnny sausage!!!