Hot Chocolate (??) and Pot Plants

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Bulgaria  , Oblast Sofiya-Grad,
Monday, October 25, 2010

Woke up snuggly and rested in the orange polka dotted room, watched an episode of Bear Grylls 'Ultimate Survivor' to prepare us for the day ahead, then packed up and headed to the restaurant for breakfast. It was bizarrely decorated in pastel pinks, purples with silver crinkly tablecloths. We were served the usual omelettes with yogurt and bread, but this time instead of coffee a truly disgusting milky drink which tasted like a musty sock drawer. The waitress was really pleased with it and had spent a long time frothing it so Mikey bravely downed his. I poured mine into a handy flower pot where unfortunately it made a very obvious brown pool  which wouldn't soak in. We had to dig around with a fork on the sly while the waitress went into the kitchen, and eventually it disappeared! Setting off, we were pleased it was yet again great weather and excited about reaching a new country. 5 minutes into the day however we realised it was going to be a very tough 56 miles to the capital as a ridiculous headwind meant that even on the flat we were only doing 9 mph. (Normally about 15) We dug in for the 15 miles to the border town, Dimitrovgrad, had coffee and spent the last of our Serbian money on food to fortify us for 5 more hours non-stop cycling. Didn't have any problems getting into Bulgaria, a brief glance at our passport and we sailed through. Over the border and through a deep valley, the scenery immediately changed to barren mountains, derelict farms and burnt out fields. Rubbish heaps and the smell of burning plastic fairly reminiscent of Romania. Also the stray dogs had gone back to running, barking and snapping at us rather than sweetly running away as they had in Serbia.  The big difference being however the although on the map the road appeared to be a very major motorway, it was fairly empty and cars passing us gave us wide berths and beeped and waved at us. Some downhills and a slight lessening of the headwind meant that we made 40 miles by 2, although we then realised that we've lost an hour again and it was actually 3. Either way, we could relax, knowing we would make it before it got dark. Stuffed our faces with crisps and sausage rolls in a layby and then settled in for the last 15miles. The road didn't really get anymore busy coming through the outskirts, but we cycled through some seriously rundown parts of town, including a huge slum with huts sliding down into a sewage filled stream, rubbish pilled high and children playing. A horse and cart raced us into the center, with the owners whipping the horse until it sprinted past us - Horrible. Stopping on a corner when to check the map a lovely local man with fantastic English told us exact directions to our hostel. Definitely by far the easiest and safest transit into a capital city so far. The hostel is great, we've got a private room in an apartment a couple of streets away from the main building where all the annoying gap 'yah' travelers hang out. The lady in charge went through a city map with us, explaining everything there is too see (NOT MUCH!!!!) and even took two bags of really stinky washing from us to deal with! We had the free pasta and beer supper at the hostel, then a couple of drinks in a bar before exhausted sleep.
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