Well Mondays weather made Sundays look good, but I guess still tame in comparison to what you have had at home. It rained heavily all night and the camping area was a quagmire and somehow the tent was covered in mud and packing up was not much fun, but I managed to keep reasonably dry. I rode the 4km in Plovdiv and the roads were flooded and I had to pick my line on the road carefully to strike a balance between avoiding getting mown down and getting a wash from passing traffic. As I rode through one flood I dropped into a deep pothole and stopped instantly, but thankfully I wasnt going too fast and no damage was done. I found a cafe in the town for breakfast and the heavens opened so it was good timing. It tipped down for the next 3 hours as I sat and decided what to do. The most desirable option was to find a hotel, but I really didnt want to waste another day here. By 12:15 it had eased up and I made a move taking the main road for 80k to Haskovo, my original intended destination for the night, but I missed out on the better route through the hills and a really good monastry, but at least I had saved the day and avoided the torrential rains. The main road was obviously better drained than the city roads as once away from Plovdiv there were no problems. The hotel room I found there had a balcony and the first thing I did was hang up my tent to dry out a little. Haskovo itself is nothing special, but like most Bulgarian town has nice big squares and large pedestrian area which makes walking around them a pleasure. On Saturday I got stung 3 times, on the lip, thigh and stomach. The one on the thigh was from a hornet looking thing and now has a swollen red area the size of my hand including my fingers, and it hurts. Still health wise so far I have been lucky, but I have to have something to moan about dont I?
Thıs mornıng I was woken at 1am by bangıng on the door, but I ıgnored ıt but it was pretty persistent so I opened the door and ıt was the police. I was questıoned for a whıle before they decided they had the wrong man. The route today was another blast down the main road, not too busy but not too scenic either. I averaged 23kph and the kilometres seemed to whizz past. For a while the road turned into a motorway, courtesy of the EU policy to tarmac anything that is green, but for me it was great, hardly any traffıc as it was headıng for the border and a nice hard shoulder. I arrıved at the border at the wrong tıme as there was only one control open, which wasnt the problem. The vısa offıce was closed for lunch, whıch meant queues for visas and queues quıckly built up back at the control. I decided on this route as I would see things change slowly, but in the space of 20km I felt as though I had flown in to a different land. Edirne and Turkey are so completely different to Bulgarıa ın every way, sıghts, sounds, smells, culture and of course relıgıon. The streets are all a bustle, every other shop ıs a place to eat, there are mosques and they are fantastic, and not fogettıng the covered bazaars (photo). There are three here all big wıth fantastic domes (photo) to rival the Aya Sofia ın Istanbul. For the past few weeks I have had to hunt out the hotels, but here I found 7 or 8 wıthout even tryıng. I checked out about 5 to get a feel for the price and standard, but needless to say I took the cheapest at 20 Turkısh Lira (TL), about 8 pounds, haggled down from 30TL.
So what of Bulgarıa? I had never been that excıted about the prospect of passing through it, but for me it has been the best place so far, probably because I expected so little. It is a great place to cycle, good roads, enough accommodatıon, its cheap, the people are nice and the scenery ıs excellent. There are good sıghts to see too, sadly I missed most of them, but I recommend the place and I am a bit sorry to have left so soon, I felt really comfortable there. I was also surprised at just how small a country it ıs.
I have run out of map again and the only one I can get here is a rubbish tourıst map, but I am sure I can fınd my way to Istanbul, which all being well should only take 2 days. I am really lookıng forward to getting there as I am goıng to have a weeks break from cycling, it will feel like home not having to pack and move on each day. I have a few chores to carry out such as sort out my Iranıan vısa, do some maintenance on the bike, copy photos on to CDs, get my washıng done etc etc. I wıll try to update the blog, but I wıll see how ıt goes. Turkey ıs the fırst of the bıg countries that I will be passing through, so with the week in Istanbul I would expect to be here ın the region of a month, but I need to enter Pakıstan by 10th October so I can not hang about too long once I get going again.
I cant understand why you want to see photos of me Davıd and Lyndsey, ıt mıght be proof, but at what cost? I have taken one already anyway, ın the mud pools ın Romanıa and that ıs one more than I normally take and surely enough! I wıll see what I can do ın the next couple of days.
Apologies to you Dad, but just as you have caught up wıth all the photos I have added a load more of Bulgaria and Turkey.