Bulgaria
Bulgaria

Curious what backpackers do in Bulgaria? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

90 travelers at this place:

  • Day14

    Istanbul - Sofia

    June 17 in Bulgaria

    After a good breakfast, I headed by tram to Istanbul’s Sirkeci Station where I reserved my berth for tonight’s overnight sleeper to Sofia, Bulgaria, the Istanbul - Sofia Express. It is a great pity that the train no longer leaves from Sirkeci Station, the original terminus of the Orient Express, as it has been closed indefinitely since 2013 for line work, and passengers have to take a bus (complimentary) to Halkali, an hours’s drive away. What would the Orient Express passengers think?

    I then took a ferry from the nearby terminal Eminönü across to Kadiköy on the Asian side. I was in Asia 20 minutes later. Another hot sunny day and everywhere was packed with visitors. Although most of the big attractions are on the European side, it was nice to visit here on one of the big, bustling ferries. I took advantage of a trip up the Bosphorus which was fantastic, passing beautiful homes, impressive bridges and fortresses. At only 15 Euros for a 2 hour trip it was great value.

    I returned by ferry back to Europe and took the Metro to Taksim Square, a popular tourist spot with trundling vintage trams, and packed with restaurants. At 20.30 I caught the free coach to Halkali through horrendous Istanbul traffic, arriving only 5 minutes before the train was due to depart at 21.40. I was sharing a very spacious and comfortable compartment with a former English teacher who was now living in Istanbul. I almost immediately fell asleep, only to be woken at 01.30 at the Turkish border station Kapicule. We all had to get off the train and stand in line waiting to have our passports checked. After an hour we set off, only to have the train stopped a few minutes later to have our details checked by Bulgarian Border Control folk - 3 times! Breakfast was served in the compartment by a surly, monosyllabic and unkempt attendant - a carton of warm juice of indeterminable origin and a packet of saltine crackers - no full English here.

    On arrival at Sofia, your first thought is that you wish you were somewhere else. Run down, graffiti covered and quiet, deserted streets - not what you would expect of a European capital city, and such a complete contrast to lively Istanbul. I made the 20 minute walk to my hotel - the Bon Bon - and the approach to it appeared anything but Bon. However inside it was small but clean and comfortable. I asked the receptionist if I could check in early, and although the place looked empty, she told me efficiently that check-in was 14.00. ‘It’s the rules’ she said without smiling, betraying a little of her communist era past.

    I was however permitted to leave my luggage and set off. I joined an excellent 2 hour walking tour of Sofia which was led by a professional but humorous young guide. He gave us a great insight into the history of the city including his memories as a child both before and after the fall of communism in 1989. He also taught us that nodding and shaking your head meant the opposite in Bulgaria. (This almost caused me problems later when a heavily made up woman near the Central Railway Station asked if I was looking for company).

    Although a land-locked country, Bulgaria has numerous hot springs, and our guide let us drink some water from one of these in the city centre. ‘Laydeez, drinking theez waters may increase your bosoms’ warned our guide. Well, they didn’t seem to have harmed my man boobs either.

    The tour finished at the magnificent St Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world. The sky darkened and developed into a mighty thunderstorm, bringing the first rain I had seen on my trip to date. I took the modern Metro to the small but interesting Museum of Totalitarian Art, with its fascinating collection of posters and statues from the communist era. At night I attended the Opera House to see a production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). With shaky sets, falling props and dodgy wigs, it wasn’t exactly La Scala, but the singing was good and the 35 piece orchestra fairly belted it out. And I couldn’t complain at £15 for one of the best seats in the house.
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  • Day63

    I'm on a horse

    July 7 in Bulgaria

    I hope you all remember the epic commercial from 'Old spice'? :D That's exactly how I felt today!
    Hint for those who can't: https://youtu.be/VX5au0LOJp8

    After climbing further 10km up the hill on that sunny morning, I met 'Butch', real name Ognyan, whos owning around 20 horses on his little farm. Some more of his horses are living wildly in the mountains. He has a unique attitude towards nature and knows the mountains like no other. He invited me for coffee, self made herbal tea with self made honey from special pine trees. It felt, as if theres was another time zone, a slower one. The horses are well trained and strong and the film 'Vikings' and many others have been produced with his horses.

    I decided to try a tour on a horseback. Was a bit unsure if it might be counterproductive for my back but it turned out to be supportive.

    So, we rode a tour trough the forest and steep ski slopes. Fantastic experience and sceneries and I can only agree with with the other peoples feedback to it. If you're ever here try: http://www.horse-riding-bg.com

    Also, we were really lucky with the weather as it startet to rain as we returned. I just made it to my apartment when weather turned into apocalyptic thunderstorm and electricity went down for a while.

    During afternoon, I prepared for hiking to the top tomorrow and hoping for good enough weather!
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  • Day64

    Hunters rock

    July 8 in Bulgaria

    Made a small (2hours) hiking test tour to Hunters rock in a moment without rain...in the end, I needed to hike down in strong rain. Good, I did not try to reach the peak today. But tomorrow looks more promising!

    So, time to write a book today :)

    Btw: Vote here for summer or winter time!!

    https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/2018-summertime-arrangements

  • Day65

    Musala Peak 1/2

    July 9 in Bulgaria

    Today, I wanted to make it to the top of Musala (2925m), the highest peak between Alps and Caucasus in Europe. Unfortunately, the the gondola did not work which would bring me to 2300m.So, I decided to give it a try from Borovets (1300m)

    I started hiking. I sweated excessively. The only things you hear is your own breath, the river and a few birds. My heart was pounding heavily as the air got thinner. After climbing up for 3,5hours of a demanding hike trough forest, a pathway that partly turned into a river, I reached the top of the Gondola Yastrebez on 2300meter.
    There, it was extremely foggy and an icy wind blowing into my soaked clothes. From there I'd still needed around 2,5hours to the top and I had to come down as well. So, I decided to turn back and enjoy the tour instead of making a survival trip out of it.

    I only met 4 persons and two dogs along the way. One dog tried to eat me while he only wanted to play...as he was pretty tall, I did not like the idea too much :D

    The landscape is just amazing. You can watch how it turns from a dense wood into an open landscape after passing the tree line. Sun finds its way trough the foggy clouds and the water vaporizes into the air between the plants. The Bistritza river is floating heavily downwards and partly floods the path.

    Thanks for this lovely 6hours hiking trip Mountain Musala in the Rila mountain region. I'll find a way to continue exactly where I stopped to reach the peak someday ;)
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  • Day82

    What was up today?

    -> Goal: Ruse, getting to the Danube again next to the border to Rumania
    -> 119 km (65 km without any stop)
    -> 3 x long elevation gains
    -> New helmet for Wi
    -> Jo INSIDE the road
    -> Beautiful landscape, very small villages, many horse-coaches

    (Cycled km: 4.350)

  • Day83

    'Wis Magen zurück auf Los'

    July 27 in Bulgaria

    After yesterday we were full of positive energy. This changed during the night as wi needed to trough up several times. (We save on any further details here).
    Was something wrong with the ice cream, pizza or the beer?
    So, we stay the day in Ruse, change the room into a nice apartment, where wi sleeps 90% of the day with fever, chill and flu symptoms...

    In the evening it is already much better. Fever gone. Two plates of homemade Risotto eaten and awake a little longer.

    At least Jo could play beach volleyball with some local (unfortunately no pictures taken) and visit a football game in the evening ;)

    So we will decide what to do tomorrow!
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  • Day70

    Out of comfort zone

    July 14 in Bulgaria

    Never hiked a 30km path up to 2400m and slept in a tent in the mountains? I had not - until today!

    Heavily overloaded with 4,25l of water, a tent for three, matress, sleeping bag and food for days, I hiked from the city Kalofer to Ray hut in the way to Botev peak in the afternoon. It took around 4hours.

    Luckily, there were many others doing the same, so next to the hut (that is sold out months ago) a lot of Bulgarians just camped. I was the only international. But I was quite happy about the people, so it was clear there will be no bears.

    The evening went away with a beer, a good conversation with Tanya and very strong cold winds
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  • Day81

    Old capital

    July 25 in Bulgaria

    Today, we got an awesome breakfast that was too much to be eaten. :) The roads were good, the temperature low (26°), only one hill to overcome. Had two nice coffe and food breaks along the way and we found ourselves already in in the early afternoon in Veliko Tarnovo, the old capitol of Bulgaria until the Ottoman empire came.

    Luckily, today the famous light show took place! It elluminates the whole fortress and a big part of the city by night!

    Before that, a thunderstorm found its way to Veliko Tarnovo which was accompanied by huge amounts of rain that we had to overcome in a cosy, delicious and crowded restaurant with a fair amount of wine.
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  • Day102

    Perfect views

    August 15 in Bulgaria

    Today was a lot so see. In the morning it takes forever to get ready. Marc left in the early morning to catch his flight in Varna, so we're two again. We talk a lot with Astrid. She is 62 years and travelling since 10 years and just started to do it by bike. She quitted her job with 52 and lives from her earnings until retirement. She only owns three boxes at friends and her travelling gear and always sleeps in a tent. Wow. very minimalistic.
    When we want to start, Wis tire is flat. Again. So we exchanged the tire. It is already super hot.
    Then we cycle trough mid day heat and cross the boarder to Bukharin in 5 minutes. We passed very impressive rocks of the Northern Bulgarian steep coastline and climbed a bit. Then, we pedal to the Kaliakra fortress and enjoy the wonderful views from the fortress ruins seeing the coast.
    In the evening, we went to a famous mussel farm Dalboka. I can only recommend! Hint: Theres a copy directly next to it with the same name. But the original one has a website ending with .bg. The copy ends with .eu.bg.
    Fabulous day!
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  • Day104

    War of flies

    August 17 in Bulgaria

    We had the choice: Take the road that is partly highway OR take small paths in undefined condition.

    We started the first half of the day on the highway with lots of traffic. We made some way but it definitely sucks to cycle there.
    After a relaxing lunch break at the beach in the shade and a swim, we changed our strategy and moved on to the small roads...

    ... which lead us into deep forest. The path was very steep and going up and down. Stones and sand change with potholes and bumpers. The first flies arrived and we did not realize early enough to better have returned ... until ...

    ... we were fully occupied by thousands and thousands of small black flies. The were everywhere. Trying to fly into nose and eyes. Trying all parts of our body. The summing noise in our ears was like a swarm of mosquitoes. We tried to breathe trough clothes. We tried to cycle away. We tried to wave and shake. But they just came and stayed. It was horrible. It was hard to not panic. Our pulse was too high. It was too hot. And far too many flies!!!!

    The only hope was to endure this nightmare and to reach the next city. It took around 30 minutes. But we made it.

    Loss of today:
    Jo: bike carbon fork got a first crack
    Wi: lost sunglasses and a lot of nerves
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Bulgaria, Bulgarien, Bulgaria, Bulgarye, Bɔlgeria, ቡልጌሪያ, بلغاريا, ܒܘܠܓܐܪܝܐ, Bolqariya, Балгарыя, България, Buligari, বুলগেরিয়া, བུལ་ག་རི་ཡ།, Bugarska, Bulgària, Bulharsko, Bùlgarskô, Блъгарїꙗ, Тăнайçи Пăлхарĕ, Bwlgaria, Bulgaria nutome, Βουλγαρία, Bulgarujo, Bulgaaria, بلغارستان, Bulgarii, Bulgarie, Bulgarije, An Bhulgáir, Bulgàiria, બલ્ગેરિયા, Bulgariya, בולגריה, बल्गारिया, Bołharska, Bilgari, Bulgária, Բուլղարիա, Búlgaría, ブルガリア共和国, ბულგარეთი, Болгария, ប៊ុលហ្គារី, ಬಲ್ಗೇರಿಯನ್, 불가리아, بولگاریا, Bulgari, Bulugariya, Bölgarije, Biligari, ບັງກາເລຍ, Bulgarija, Bulgārija, Biolgaria, Бугарија, ബള്‍ഗേറിയ, बल्गेरिया, ဘူဂေးရီးယား, Borgeriya, Bhulgariya, Bolgària, Bolguarii, ବୁଲଗେରିଆ, Болгари, Bułgaria, Bulgarìa, بلغاریه, Bulgarya, Buligariya, Булгария, बुल्गारिया, Bulugarïi, බල්ගේරියාව, Bolgarija, Bulgaariya, Bullgari, Бугарска, பல்கேரியா, బల్గేరియా, Булғористон, บัลแกเรีย, Pokalia, Bulgaristan, بۇلغارىيە, Болгарія, بلغاریہ, Bun-ga-ri (Bulgaria), Bulgarän, Bulgåreye, בולגאריע, Orílẹ́ède Bùùgáríà, 保加利亚, i-Bulgaria

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