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Day 224 – Companions, goodbye Serbia, hello Bulgaria

It has been 11 days since I started again without giving news or very little, today I take advantage of the time of accalmi to catch up and you explain my adventures day after day.

Day 213: Borca> Lozovik

Gently but surely after 3 months of rest. Right from the start, I feel like a problem with my bike (while I used it almost every day before), actually I had the cable of my derailleur that had “pulled out” of its gear to change the trays, So I could only put the first and second. After a slight pause, I was able to solve the problem quickly by following the cable. Right after that, I had the right to my first chase run with stray dogs, where luck was on my side when other dogs came and they all came in.

Towards the exit of Beograd, I decide to stop at a bike shop to be able to inflate my tires. Obviously, another problem, the inside of the valve of my front wheel was broken. So the owner of the store changed it, free of charge!

The rest of the road goes smoothly, except maybe I had the right to another pursuit race with dogs, with luck the road was only flat.

For the evening I slept in Lozovik, where I put my tent for the first time in a long time. Obviously I slept in a field not far from the civilization, but I want to note that every 5 minutes I could hear big “boom”, surely to scare the animals of the fields.

Result of the day: 84 km

Day 214: Lozovik> Paracin

New day, new start. After a very agitated night (because of these famous “boom”), I resumed the road pretty quickly always in direction of Nis.

For this day, nothing special, the road went unhindered to compare with the day before.

For the evening I stopped not far in the road, in what it seems to be the motorists toilet passing by there. But hey, it does not bother me more than that and I spent a pleasant night.

Result of the day: 78 km

Day 215: Paracin> Tesica

This day is going to be slightly different than the others, because I did not meet one but two cyclists like me! The first I came across at the beginning of the day was a Dutchman (I think) 64 years old who had planned a European tour in 2 months to quickly return home to see his wife but that finally Was already 5 months that he was on the road .. For the second, I came across Marc, a Spaniard who started his trip to Korea 2 months ago, passing through France, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia and then Serbia. So, having the same route to Sofia, we decided to make the road together until there.

Suddenly we climb the mountains in front of us until we stop in a small river where I was able to fly the drone for the first time from Beograd and where we set foot in the water to taste our burek and a beer.

A few kilometers away we decided to stop in order to start the site to put our tent at night. In the village where we were, after staying 1 or 2 hours against the wall, a young woman with her daughter approached to ask us what we were doing etc, so we explain her our adventure before she returns to Nis where she lives by hitchhiking. Moments later, a youngster approaches to invite us to take a shower, eat and drink together. We accept and stay at least 1 hour to share our lives.

For the encampment of the night, we cross the bridge not far from the village, where we make our barbecue in order to leather our dear sausages. During the night, around 4 o’clock in the morning, where had the right to visit 2-3 dogs barking in all directions.

Result of the day: 65 km

Day 216: Tesica> Bela Belanka

Today the objective of the day was to approach a maximum of Pirot to hope to be the next day in Bulgaria (or at least very close).

For that do not have to go through Nis, the third biggest city of Serbia, where we were surprised to have it stopped by a taxi right in the middle of the city’s fast lane. After explaining our trip, he told us that we were crazy like his son and that we must see him to explain in more detail our adventure.

The appointment being fixed at 2 pm and we were in front of us, we went to explore the city and the fortress. Fortress very disappointing for me compared to that of Belgrade. In short, visit the city, we go to our appointment.

After a very good meal and delicious drinks, it is time to leave. When we showed our plan, our host advised us not to go there because it is a 18-kilometer canyon, where people do not hesitate to go as far as possible.

To help us cross, he explains that we will leave the luggage of our bikes in his vehicle and that we would pedal to Bela Belanka in the family home at an average speed of 30-35 km / h to not die crush and that in addition he would serve us as escort for us but also his son until the end of the canyon.

After a last drink, it’s time to leave. Indeed I confirm that the danger for cyclists is very high. We cross by canyon people from all countries, this road being used for people traveling from Turkey to Germany.

After that, it is really, really fast, we finally reach our destination located 30 kilometers from Nis.

We will spend the night there, where we will put our tents in the garden. We went to the funfair the same evening to have fun a little but especially to drink a little more.

Result of the day: 62 km

Day 217: Bela Belanka> Slivnitsa

After awakening, we set out to take the train from Bela Belanka to Dimitrovgrad, having an urgent desire to arrive in Bulgaria the same day.

After having missed the train (five days a day), we arrived (after 50 km and two hours by road) at destination. We pedaled to the border by taking the motorway as the only way to cross the country. A few minutes later, we are on the other side, in Bulgaria!

As we pedal, we discover new mountains, new heads, a new currency, everything is beautiful!

About thirty kilometers away, we are intercepted by an elderly couple who invites us to drink and eat. Result: a little too much rakia, a tent fitting in the garden and a total black-out after some time. We are more than happy to see that the Bulgarian has the same hospitality as the Serbs, at least for this couple.

Result of the day: 85 km

Day 218: Slivitsa> Sofia

Wake up gently, with a slight headache and an inability to eat anything. Just before we hit the road, we see another cyclist, whom I invite to our guests (obviously I asked permission before). His name is Imad, he comes from Canada and pedals almost the same route as me, having borrowed the same route as Marc.

Some exchanges, glasses and to eat later, we decide to go together all the three until Sofia at first. It took only 31 kilometers to reach the goal, so roughly 2-3 hours of pedaling. Imad having taken a room in a hostel before our meeting, we decide Marc and I to also take a room to our turn in order to visit the city all together.

Once in Sofia, we take our room, small shower, recharge the batteries and op on to conquer the city. We spend the rest of the day drinking, eating and especially visiting the city. We went through several bars including one that is a “hidden place”, which you must know!

Result of the day: 31 km

Day 219: Sofia

New day in Sofia, however no room was available for Marc and I, we went to another hostel on the same street of the previous one, so as not to be distant from each other.

Throughout the day we always walk around the city by visiting some churches and other important monuments and even an urban exploration where I rang a silent alarm where a few minutes later we saw a security car check in Place, by chance I was able to escape in time.

Day 220: Sofia> Chelopech

It is today that our group separates in two, Marc on one side to join Greece and I and Imad to join a place that had been planned in common: the famous old communist house of Bulgaria, located at the top of the Buzludzha.

As soon as we left, we stopped at the Decathlon at the end of the town, which I was able to present to my friend as the best place to buy sports clothes. Immediately, he cracked for a light fleece of the same style as mine.

Once out of there, we follow the (very) fast track to get out of town and join the road that goes directly to Kazanlak.

After a few villages, we are followed by some groups of stray dogs, the first for Imad. Well, we dodge them quickly, fortunately we were on a slope.

For the evening, we decide to have fun and sleep next to a small lake. Obviously, having looked badly at the GPS, we find ourselves making a big descent, but not on the right way, from the turn to recover the good road.

In the village, we took the opportunity to buy sausages and some other toppings for the evening barbecue. After a few pedal strokes, we are at the edge of the lake where we put our tent, make our barbecue and eat our marvelous waterfront.

Result of the day: 85 km

Day 221: Chelopech> Manolovo

Always in pursuit of our goal, we continue to pedal as far as we can through mountains and magnificent views of the valley. In the afternoon, as usual, we stop to eat at the first restaurant we see where we stay an hour to recharge batteries etc.

For the evening, we decided to stop by the river to have a very good view after our day of intensive pedaling!

So, we follow the path of the river to find the perfect place to put our tent, we cross the river “dried up” and we pose our bivouac. Nevertheless the mission was complicated because of the enormous gusts of winds present on the ground where we were. In short, we still achieved the goal! We made an appointment in Imad’s tent to play a few games of failure by eating a bunch of chips bought before.

As I walked out of his tent towards his, I heard a sound of water and what did we see? The river going up at high speed V with our bikes and our luggage! So in 2-3 movements we descend into the river put our bicycles and our equipment up where we had set our tents.

After this little experience, we realized that if a river is “empty” the moment you arrive, it is not necessarily the case all day!

Result of the day: 96 km

Day 222: Manolovo> Kran

D-Day, the goal of our adventure in two: Buzludzha, within reach of pedals! Despite our evening of a rather eventful last night which made us laugh more than anything else, we left on our mounts for about thirty kilometers, in Kran, where we decided to take a hotel, in order to remove our luggage and climb the mountain more easily.

Just a few miles away, my Canadian acolyte had to forget about her gourds at the coffee shop next to where we had slept. As a result, he was expected to hitchhike up there, while I was writing my article to the hotel. After 30 minutes, he is back. But having been reluctant to go back in the opposite direction, he was simply in Kazanlak, the big city underneath, to redeem the news and take a ride to the casino.

On his return, we went together on board a taxi to Kazanlak to visit the city, eat again in the restaurant and take a ride to the casino at the same time.

After a few hours, it’s time to come back and hope to arrive before sunset at the top of the mountain. Back to the hotel, preparation in 5 minutes, we are lightened and on the road.

It is necessary to know that there are approximately 950 meters of difference in altitude about 16 km to reach the summit, with a slope of 15 to 20%. It took us 1h30-2h to get up, making only one or two breaks to not waste time, a good time for amateurs.

At 2 kilometers from the monument, we parted, wanting to go through a very steep path and he on the road a little longer.

After a few minutes of hard work, I managed to wait for the summit first! Once joined by my colleague, it is time to leave drone and make the first shots of the place. We stay there until it is dark, while looking for an entrance to enter the building. Unfortunately, the only “possible” entry was a 10-meter-deep and very perilous hole. After 45 minutes of searching (& destruction?), We resigned to go inside but still to take some pictures of the magnificent view that was offered to us.

It is now time to leave, it is dark, I do not have rear brakes, it a light that does not illuminate, 20 kilometers to the hotel and a road dotted with holes. Before going downstairs, we stopped at the only hotel / restaurant on the summit to get some energy for the road we were waiting for.

Let’s go for a wonderful descent! On the way we crossed a cat that crossed the road (which scared me I must confess), eaten a few holes, but nothing very serious! Back to the hotel, small shower (I think) and we are joining Morpheus.

Result of the day: 71 km

Day 223: Kran> Mlekarevo

After our test our test of the day before, we thought that the day will be complicated but not even, we beat our record of distance, with a departure at 11 o’clock in the morning!

We pedaled all day, despite the wind, the heat and the ribs! Nothing special, apart from a few chases with stray dogs and a castle / school exploration (we do not know too much) where we had the right to an alarm to make us flee the place quickly.

In the evening we decided to stop behind a gas station, not far from the restaurant where we ate that evening and where a few youngsters at night came to “disturb” us but no more.

Result of the day: 101 km

Day 224: Mlekarevo> Svilengrad

It was planned to go to Greece and even to Turkey today, because the only event of the day was a drop of about ten kilometers, but with our luggage.

When we woke up we went to the restaurant the day before to have a coffee and so to refuel.

Upon climbing, after 7 kilometers, we stopped in a small village to eat and empty our last Leva (Bulgarian currency). During the meal, we met a Frenchman who has lived here for three years with his Bulgarian wife and children.

After the meal, we have 13 kilometers of “suffering”. Once on the summit, it is almost only the descent to Svilengrad, pure happiness in short!

When we stopped at a village to fill our gourds, the store owner offered us a coffee to cheer us up. On the road to Greece we finally stopped in Svilengrad in a hotel (in truth it is a hostel but it is only us), so that I can write my article (finally) and recharge the batteries because From tomorrow, we leave Europe!

Result of the day: 86 km

It still lacks a lot of things on my days, but I’ve tried to summarize that this easier to read. Sorry for misspellings that may be present in the article.

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