Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Twentieth Week

Monday 18-7-16 and Tuesday 19-7-16

So after our weekend at Lake Batak with lots of Bulgarians having fun we moved on today. We paid the nice young couple who ran the site and chatted about the thing we always seem to end up talking about, Brexit. The sun was shining on the lake as we drove up the hill.

From the Lake to our next stop was more miles away than we'd normally do in a day. But the dearth of campsites in Bulgaria meant it had to be done. What helped was a very good motorway for 90 km of the drive. I was thankful for the gps, the road signs bared no resemblance to the town names on our maps.

After the motorway we were back onto Bulgarian A roads. We were now getting used to seeing horse and carts and people working in the fields using tools that could have been out of my garden shed.

Liz was on camera duty today as we drove and she managed to capture an image that summed up the small towns in this area. Tatty houses, horse and cart, storks on a pole and badly maintained roads.

We got to Camping Alexandrovo just after lunch. We were met by the owner and his wife, Matt and Kako. The place was a gem. A grass pitch with a decking running down one side with wonderful views across the valley and a brand new shower block. Best of all, we were the only ones there so we had all this to ourselves.

Liz wasted no time in getting her tan topped up on the decking. We decided to stay for two nights.

Matt pointed us in the direction of his fruit trees and told us to take as much fruit as we wanted. So Liz waded into the plums.

It really was a relaxing place to be and it felt like we could have stopped a lot longer. But we had more of Bulgaria to see and a fixed date to meet up with a mate in Romania.

Camping Alexandrovo, Bulgaria. N41.98705 E025.72682

Wednesday 20-7-16 and Thursday 21-7-16

We said our farewells to Mat and Kako. We had a big shop to do today and then a short drive to our next camping. In the town of Alexandrovo they'd mounted a jet fighter on a pole, which was a nice change from the awful communistic concrete statues of hard faced soldiers looking to the skies, that most towns seem to have. 

We found our new favourite supermarket in a big dirty town called Haskovo. Move over Lidl, Kaufland has taken your crown. While wandering around it trying to work out what was in the tins and jars, I spotted a bargain. A single ring electric hotplate for the equivalent of six quid. Seeing as we were now doing lots of campings this would give us more options for cooking and save on our gas. Although gas wasn't a problem here, it seems that every garage in Bulgaria sells LPG. We filled up on gas on our way out of the town, it was 30p a litre, another bargain. Then 30km up the road we found Sakar Hills Camping. When we got there the owner Martin was looking very English, riding around on his lawn mower and cutting the grass. He welcomed us to the completely empty campsite. It had a bit of a bleak appearance, one side was a railway embankment and around it a few of the usual dilapidated Bulgarian houses, the landscape reminded me of the Lincolnshire fens. He said we could pitch up anywhere. Empty campsites were becoming the norm here. Martin jokingly asked us if we wanted to buy the site as he was thinking of selling, an offer we jokingly declined. So we plonked ourselves in the middle of the site on a nice flat concrete slab.

The chap who lived next door had a fine collection of hens on the other side of the wire fence and from what we could see at least five cockerels. These chaps liked to do the cock-a-doodle do thing and soon became annoying.

The owners son, Matt, had a chat with us and told us they'd had 300 cancellations this year, mainly motorhome group partys from Germany and Holland. He put it down to the trouble in Turkey. That evening while roasting a chicken for our dinner, not one of the annoying ones unfortunately, we got to watch a big full moon rise.

On Thursday after being woken up at five thirty by “the bloody cocks” we had a wander into the town. It met our expectations by being untidy and grey. We also got to see another one of the concrete war memorials that all the towns seem to have, it even had the soldier looking to the skies.

We had a coffee in a bar in the town square, but the view didn't really make you feel like lingering around and watching the world go by. I'm not really selling this place am I? We talked about why anyone would up sticks and move out here and the only reasons we could come up with was that it was a simpler, cheaper way of life and the weather was good. Apart from that I'd have to be living in a pretty bad area of the UK to think that a Bulgarian town was a preferable place to live.

A neighbors dog started howling at eleven that night but he shouted at it now and again, so that gave us a variety of noise at least.

Camping Sakar Hills, Bulgaria. N41.87079 E025.99136

Friday 22-7-16 and Saturday 23-7-16

After paying we drove away from the worst place for noise we've stopped in in four months, and that's saying something as we've wild camped in the middle of towns. I wouldn't recommend the place unless you're profoundly deaf, no wonder the owner is trying to sell it, that and the Turkey issue.
We had 250km to do today but Martin at the last site had given us a good route that was scenic and took us through pine forests and mountains. Every now and again we'd hit a town and the tarmac would be replaced with gravel and bomb craters to negotiate. The rest of the time the roads were good, small and bendy. Until we rounded one bend and the road opened out into what could have been a three lane motorway, with hard shoulder. For about a mile it was straight and flat, it felt like an airport runway. And then it went back to the usual small bendy road. We wondered if it was an emergency runway for the military?

We found a Lidl and did a shop, they have nice sausages in Bulgarian Lidl's. And then a few more miles on we found Camping Veliko Tarnovo. We were welcomed by the duty manager, who was an English lady. We were asked for both our passports and all our details got copied out onto a registration form. It's seems that this is the law here but this was the only site to ask for them. We were given an info pack that included rules of the camping, another first. The site felt like one of those very organised Caravan Club sites in the UK apart from they had sunshine here.

The facility's were great, they even had a swimming pool that Liz took to immediately. I had a beer on a nice cafe terrace and spoke to a Scottish couple. They were stopping here as they'd come to see the progress of the renovation of their property in a nearby village. It'd had cost less than their 14 year old car she proudly told me. In the corner of the site was a converted county council library bus.

I went and spoke to the couple who owned it. He was a plumber by trade and they'd sold up in the UK, had just put a bid on a derelict house and were waiting for the deal to go through. I'd asked both couples what the villages were like that the properties were in and they both said they were OK for Bulgaria. Perhaps I was wrong and there are some decent places? That evening I created a new dish. I've made pizzas in our BBQ before but the only ready made pastry we could find here was filo pastry. But I gave it a go, I put six sheets on the bottom and added tom purée, chopped toms, Gruyère cheese, sliced mozzarella, wafer thin bacon and slices of tomato. I then put six more sheets of pastry on the top, wrapped the sides over, rubbed it with olive oil and created a pizza pie. It turned out to be good, surprisingly.

Another bonus we had at this site was that they served full cooked English breakfasts in the morning. I was up early and dragged Lizzie up to the cafe to order two. They were great, after five months of travelling I'd missed this heart attack on a plate delicacy.

And that's us done for another week. The site advertises that a mobile hairdresser is available, so Liz has booked a lady called Pepper to come and do her roots and give her a trim this evening. I've enjoyed Bulgaria's countryside and forests but it seems everywhere a Bulgarian puts down his roots he turns into a mess. A shame really, it can't be just down to lack of money as we've been to poor areas of other countries that the locals take a pride in and are nice places to be. Tomorrow we head for Romania and the Transylvania region.

Camping Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria.  43.06717, 25.75362 

Below are the numbers so far for 137 days away.


  1. Finding joy in a full fat-boys brekkie; nice one !

  2. Hi Kev & Liz :) this is Matt and Keiko. We just enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for your nice comments. Great pics you took, I may pinch them for our website ;) We shouldn't but we did laugh at some of your comments about the turkey/hen situation at the other campsite. Happy you could find those lanterns, Keiko bought a couple more yesterday. Roof progressing slowly. Your meals look fantastic. Have fun :)

    1. Ni idea where 'TOM' has come from by the way ?

    2. Cheers Matt, your site is the best. Hope the roof is going well. Kev and Liz


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