Leaving the Serbian flatlands, we traveled high up into the mountains that stretch from Niš all the way to the coast of the Black Sea. We crossed the Bulgarian border at 500m of altitude, which gave us a first taste of what lay ahead of us. Cool wind and a burning sun were our steady companions while we passed between snow-covered mountain peaks and blooming alpine meadows. After weeks of cold weather, rain, and snow, spring had finally arrived.
We reached the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, the same day after reaching the checkpoint. A couple of days of rest were just what we needed before cycling through the whole country in 5 stages. We did not expect that we would move forward that fast, nor was this our plan. On some days, we would make 100km while, on other days, it would be much less, mostly due to the mountainous terrain. One day after leaving Sofia, we broke our record when we crossed a mountain pass at 1140m.
At the top of the pass a woman was selling honey and juices, and she asked us, if we wanted to buy some from her. Since we carry as little weight as possible we kindly declined her offer. She still wished us a nice trip. Notably, all of the people to whom we mentioned that our goal was China smiled at us, encouraged us, and wished us safe travels. All of the bike shop owners we met were amazed and sometimes even helped us for free (although not two of them agreed on the state of our bikes – there seem to be a million opinions on how to properly treat bicycles).
While in Bulgaria we had our first two nights of wild camping. On the first evening, we found ourselves quite helpless because we could not agree on where to pitch our tent while it was getting darker outside. When we had finally pitched it, we noticed that right next to the entrance was a cow pat – what a beautiful demarcation! Also, the ground was uneven, and we did not sleep well on it. We quickly learned from this and chose our camping ground more carefully on our second night outside. We slept so much better!
We are on the road already for more than one month, and we have finally accepted that each of us has our own pace. There is no need that one of us adapts to the other. It always works out somehow, at the latest when we take a break we are meeting up again to relax together, which happens about every 10km.
Having reached Burgas at the Black Sea coast, we have at the same time cycled our last meters in Europe. Soon, we will take a ferry and sail to the opposite shore: Georgia. What we will see, hear, taste, smell, and feel there, we don’t yet know. In any case, we are confident that our Georgian adventure will be full of new experiences.
Jan & Gratsiela
P.S.: Check out our route map to see where we are!