After an easy check at the border customs, we entered Bulgaria. We took only a week to cross Bulgaria. This time of the year (December) is just not the best season to visit this country in our opinion. We drove through beautiful mountain ranges and plains, but all this will feel so much better when all is lush green instead of bare branches and brown colours. It did not help us that we barely saw the sun and that we were really battling the cold wet weather and accompanying moist air inside and outside the van for two weeks.
Even Binkie decided on wearing something extra to battle the cold… On both city visits, however, the sun decided to peek around occasionally.
We visited the Rila monastery, very beautiful and tranquil, at least in this time of year.
We drove further along the road where we ended in snow. Sadly for us there was a manned park ranger station, otherwise it would have been a nice place to stay for one night.
In Sofia we walked around the city centre, to see all the magnificent buildings,
and visited the The Church of Saint George that was built in the early 4th century, originally as a Roman bath house. in the picture you can still see the heating system of the bath house. During our visit a church service was held. We respected the request not to take pictures of the interior, but these can be found elsewhere if you are interested.
After that we drove trough the Central Balkan Mountain Range, covered in snow, and then following route nr. 6 along the Stryama valley to the black Sea.
Situated on the Black Sea coast is the old town of Nessebar. It has a surprisingly high amount of churches, and because of the season (and possibly other factors), the town was almost deserted, giving a bit of an eerie feeling while walking around.
Again, because all the land borders east of Turkey were -still- closed because of covid. So, our plane to visit Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran has been put on hold. We arrived from Turkey and had to obtain a negative PCR test in Istanbul before crossing the border. Also a health certificate for Binkie was needed. At the border all went well. Worth mentioning is that even the camper had to be “disinfected” for 3 euros. So, you can even get “it” from cars?
this time we stayed three months in Bulgaria. You can read about it in out monthly blogs of March, April and May 2021. March is a bit too early to be in Bulgaria to be honest. It is still quit cold and there is enough chance for rain and/or snow. Some cues of springtime are visible, but I guess it will still be one month before springtime is really noticeable.
Roads: Bulgarije = Bultje-rijden. (Bulgaria = Bumpy ride). The (asphalt) roads are quite bad. In general our average speed is 20km/h below the allowed speed limit, just because of the bumps, dips and potholes.
Halfway April the weather starts to change and some really nice weather can be enjoyed. The mountains will still be closed because of snow though. To reach the summits, not earlier than halfway May should be considered. (Pamporovo bike park opens around that time for example).
Bulgaria has beautiful nature that can be enjoyed walking or with the (mountain) bike. Keep in mind that signs are not abundant, nor is track maintenance. In the Rhodopes we found it easy to do off-roading too.