The days in Sofia (Bulgaria) were a time to reflect on our trip. We had comfort and were not cycling. Days are different. No need to setup tent, no need to think about water or where we are gonna be that day. Comfort days can be quite predictable. It was divided in two parts. The part where we meet the girlfriends and do touristic stuff in the city and the part were we are supposed to leave and William gets sick.
The name of the city means wisdom comes from the Saint Sofia church which dates from the 6th century. As many cities in the Balkan it has many historic buildings from different empires it was conquered. The St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the largest eastern orthodox cathedrals in the world.
On the day were the second part begins we had everything packed already but it was time to apply for our Iranian visa. Contact was made with a tour operator and there was this form asking a lot of information. While gathering all the info and filling in the form William was feeling worse by the minute. It started raining and quicly the decision was made not to cycle. Hostel was booked and the days following we would extend our stay every day till he gets better.
Hostels are like a public social gathering. Mixed ages, gender, nationality and travelers in one place. A melting pot of stories to hear and tell cause everybody has a different story and way of thinking. We met a lot of interesting people and hung out with them, got coffee together, had dinner and went up in the mountains of Sofia. There was one aruban friend who contacted me when he heard through our blog that we are in Sofia. I haven’t seen him in years but we met up every day after that in Sofia.
The day we went up in the Vitosha mountains was the first day William was feeling better. After some coffee at Chucky’s we went into the mountains with a cab. After splitting this with 4 people it wasn’t much at all. Colder temperature, pine trees instead of chestnut and huge boulders at 1715 meters. Amazing how the surroundings can change in such a short time just by gaining altitude. Off course we spent too much time and missed our last bus. Already quarter to 7 we started walking down the long hairpin bend road. This was supposed to be an adventure right! Well here you go. Hitchhiking was an other option to test the hospitality of the bulgarians. First car we tried stopped and there we were. 4 person squeezed in the backseat with a Bulgarian ambassador in the U.S. and her friend talking perfect english to us. Back at the hostel I started to write the previous blog which i didn’t finish properly.
The next day was the day we would get on our bikes again. I wasn’t that excited because after a week of comfort it started to linger for more. Somehow my body is able to adapt really fast to this comfort. The bike was feeling heavy, steering was sturdy and my legs out of shape. As soon as we got out of civilization,the views were distracting and the memories of being on the road began to live again. Big mountains around and small lakes motivated till we reached Iskar water reservoir. There was something called a camping but the owner could only speak bulgarian I suppose and no word of english. He would only say caravanista caravanista as what we can understand so we think he meant the place is only for caravans. On to another spot as it was getting late. A few hundred meters away we set camp at a beautiful spot next to the lake. It was very very quiet and you were able to hear everything. Total different contrast compared to the busy days in a crowded city. There was no moon this night so the sky was lit with so many stars. It was astonishing! We stared for hours
Next morning we wanted to cycle till Batak lake but that means lot of climbing and also lot of rain as the clouds were pretty dark in the mountains. It was necessary to cross one first part in the mountains and we wanted to decide later on the second part. The town of Borovets was the first part. It is a ski resort in the winter and there was a complete hotel for sale.. Any plans? It rained twice on us and then we decided to just go all the way to Plovdiv instead of Batak. It would be a ride of more than 140 km that day. On the road we saw farmers on horse-drawn carriages selling live stock. Seriously, chickens in cages ready to be sold. For dinner purposes offcourse, and all of this just on the side of the road. This is what we used to have in Aruba in the early 90’s but I don’t see this anywhere else in Europe.
Yesterday was exactly 7 weeks since we left and the last week had me thinking about lots of stuff. We get used to this kind of traveling now and for some outsiders it looks like a wonderful vacation. Lot of good stuff happening to us but there are also some downsides. Simple things like water are not always available. Every time we have to make sure there’s enough water for drinking, cooking, doing dishes, cleaning, brushing teeth etc. You become so aware of all the things you buy and take. Everything you take is extra weight. We try to have around 10 liters a day to go but this is also 10 extra kilos. Food we take for on the road too. We like vegetables and mostly keep it simple. Meat or beans for on the side with rice or pasta. Electricity can also be an issue. In Europe this has not been a problem yet. We have a solar panel for sunny days and powerbanks which we charge when we can. Washing clothes can be an issue. Cotton starts to stink easy but we mostly use synthetic clothing. Pooping alongside of a road in a squat position is no fun if the legs are tired. Showering is not possible everyday, but we have wet wipes, hehe. Busy roads with no hard shoulder and cars passing by at high speeds. Packing and unpacking everyday. The weather is not always nice to us. Unfriendly people, yes we meet those too.
All of these are just a mindset. Humans didn’t have most of these in the past. Comfort has been created for us and you easily forget what comfort really means. I at least see it that I took it for granted. You understand why the poor has so much to give..
No need to worry. We have to deal with each other too and being stubborn is not always handy. This ride is giving us so much positivity back that we can deal with the downsides and we get so many good reactions from our readers and people on the road.
We fall, we learn.. Thank you for all.