OE Day 35 Kotel to Burgas 134 km

A route change.  The original planned finish has been requisitioned by the Army. So we’ve headed to the Black Sea and Burgas.

The city is surrounded by the Burgas Lakes and located at the westernmost point of the Black Sea, at the large Burgas BayLUKOIL Neftochim Burgas is the largest oil refinery in southeastern Europe and the largest industrial enterprise. The Port of Burgas is the largest port in Bulgaria, and Burgas Airport is the second most important in the country. Burgas is the centre of the Bulgarian fishing and fish processing industry. God ol wiki!

So a longer day,  with some lush descents through forests onto the plains. Which become plains like. Grapevines appear: the only “properous” looking town is near there.  The villages are poor on the whole. 

First sign of industrial farming with a combine harvester hoovering up the dead sun flower stalks. That’s one of the surprises for me on this trip: the majority of the acreage of crops is sunflowers. Another is all the roads in Bulgaria have tolls. The cameras catch them.

Horses too today and yesterday, cantering along the road. They avoided the busy highway we were on for a good while. The relief when we turned off was short lived: now quieter and a headwind. No complaints though as it becomes a tailwind to hasten our descent to the Black Sea. The sound of the waves is always good to hear.

OE Day 34 Veliko Târnovo to Kotel 103 km

A day on very quiet country roads. Very quiet as in not maintained making for some bumpy surfaces. The best of those was the stone road out of Veliko Târnovo.

Our attention was on two things. The lovely scenery through wooded landscapes; the lovely vertiginous hills we rolled up and down. So coffee stops whe we could get them was the order of the day.

Most villages appear poor. The folks are friendly and inquisitive. More cattle and other animals than we’ve seen hitherto. Some curious sights along the way.

First solar power farm we’ve seen for a long while. The local fuel is wood. Most labour is manual, including loading the logs onto the timber wagon.

Tomorrow a diversion for an early dip (for some) in the Black Sea.

OE Veliko Tarnivo

A rest day. A translation of our tour blurb. One of Bulgaria’s oldest towns, Veliko Târnovo has as its centrepiece the magnificent restored Tsarevets Fortress, citadel of the Second Bulgarian Empire. We didn’t see that though hearts magnificent might be a little overdone. Historic Târnovo is tucked into the dramatic bends of the Yantra River, clasped by an amphitheatre of forested hills. This means it is steep up and steep down.

Bulgaria’s 19th-century National Revival splendour is easy to relive along historic lanes such as ul Gurko. Our hotel is there and it is a lovely 17c lane. The history here is too much for my wee brain to take in. I think it is summarised as fought over by everybody, a golden century (pick one), and heroes.

Which meant I enjoyed the rest day. Rested for a few bumps tomorrow. Excellent food.

OE Day 33 Ruse to Veliko Tarnivo 121 km

Our first full day in Bulgaria took us into the rural North. Lovely ride with the oven temperature slowly increasing and the best hill saved for the last miles.

Poor or changing. Massive derelict factories on the edges of towns; huge well cultivated fields (with no signs of the major machinery needed); horse n cart; deserted villages in places, as though the population has moved. Road side shrubs of apple, sloe, damson. Still all litter free. Good 5G.

The region we’re in is famous, apparently, for rose petal products. For an explore tomorrow.

OE Day 32 Bucharest to Ruse 104 km

A quiet route was promised. Apart from the 25 km to get out of Bucharest navigating the road works and traffic. And the section crossing the border with its 10 mile queue of lorries. Twinned with Dover.

Perhaps the humidity, thirsty work today so we kept stopping at road side shops. The villages hug the roadside. The fields roast in the heat.

The border between Romania and Bulgaria is down the middle of the Danube. Which has grown to 2.4km wide. It’s crossed via the Friendship bridge built by the two nations. Too narrow to stop, just side enough for a car to pass. Thankfully the lorries are in queue.

Ruse population 150000, was in its heyday late 19, early 20 Century. As a trading port: the buildings we’re told are reminiscent of Vienna. Certainly not western though the Cyrillic script everywhere provides a clue it’s not. The central plaza is a delight: full of locals enjoying the evening heat with kids happily thrashing around on scooters.