May 22-23, 2023
Crossing into Bulgaria, you can almost still feel the old communist ties. Many of the buildings still have that look and feel. As well they should; it’s only been a little over thirty years since Bulgaria abolished the Communist Party’s leading role in the country, and held its first multi-party elections. It’s clearly a country that is still working on capitalism. While it is an inexpensive place to live, it is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
As we headed north towards Sofia on backroads, we could see that the infrastructure was definitely in worse condition than Greece. The main roads were good, but as we got deeper into the countryside, potholes prevailed. At one point my phone was knocked loose from the X-mount it was held in (I had forgotten to put the rubber tether on it). Fortunately I had it plugged into the USB port to charge, and amazingly the charger cord stayed attached to the phone and caught the phone before it plunged to its’ death. I stopped and reeled it back in, put it back in the X-mount, and strapped the tether around it. I also decided to slow down and try a little harder to avoid the potholes.
The countryside in southern Bulgaria is green and pretty, but there isn’t a lot to look at along the route we took.
Our first night in Bulgaria was spent in Sapareva Banya, at the base of Rila mountain. This small town was known as Germania in Roman times, and today is mainly known for its’ mineral baths.
We stayed in a nice “cabin” at Camping Verila in Sapareva Banya. It was down a short dirt road, but just a five minute walk to town.
Besides the mineral baths, the other big attraction in town is this geyser. Yes, this is a geyser. It’s been re-imagined a bit, but still draws tourists to see it “erupt”. (Spoiler Alert: it’s no Old Faithful).
The following day we headed for MotoCamp Bulgaria, and due to a short time frame (ugh…schedules. I hate them), we were really just passing through Bulgaria to get to Romania, where we wanted to spend a few days before heading back to Bulgaria, at which time we would have a few more days to spend before storing the bike briefly and flying home.
We headed east, skirting south of Sofia and towards Idilevo, the home of MotoCamp Bulgaria. This place is relatively famous among motorcycle travelers in Europe as a great stopover and staging point for touring eastern Europe. Idilevo itself is, as MotoCamp describes it, a “town that time forgot”. With a total population of 100 residents, the population can double on a summer weekend when MotoCamp hosts a local Horizons Unlimited meeting.
Aerial view of a portion of MotoCamp Bulgaria.
Communist-era bar stools.
It’s a great place to spend some time, relax, do some bike maintenance, and meet other travelers. Located in between the towns of Sevlievo and Valiko Tarnovo, when it wasn’t raining we made a couple of trips into town for meals. Otherwise, there’s food, snacks, and drinks available at MotoCamp.
We spent just one night at MotoCamp, but we were coming back here in about a week. This allowed us to meet everyone and finalize some plans for our return trip.
The next morning, it was time for another border crossing, and Country Number 59. And that’s when our border crossing “comedy of errors” began…