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Old 06-14-05, 08:23 PM   #1
PurpleK
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Anyone tour Bulgaria?

Anyone here ever toured Bulgaria? I'm considering a tour from Burgas or Varna to Sofia. Specifically, I woud like any info about process/experience taking a bike on the train. I will not have enough time to bike it both directions.
Thanks.
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Old 06-15-05, 02:33 AM   #2
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I've no train info-sorry.

I did cycle a bit of Bulgaria last summer though. My route through that country was basicly Ruse east to Varna, then I followed the coast south past Burgas, then inland a touch&over the mountain to Turkey.

Varna was a bit crowded+touristy for my liking, still worth checking out though. South it gets a lot less crowded for the most part. Nesebār is worth a good look-it's kinda cool.

If you are camping, the coastal campsites aren't bad. They're cheap and (most)have: pit toilets, showers, potable water, cafe/foodstand, and perhaps a beach. Some may have mini "cottages" available-these usually get booked up though. You can easily "stealth" camp about as well, however there's really no need to.

Roads along that bit of Bulgaria are fine for cycling-no problems with drivers either.

[edit] oops I'm an idiot. Just re-read your post, I had thought you were cycling between Varna/Burgas! Dohh!

...Anyways, whichever routing you put together, see if you can't somehow include Veliko Tārnovo. Has some interesting ruins & whatnot.

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Old 06-15-05, 07:14 AM   #3
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Thanks, Camel. That was some good info there.
I can not read cyrillic, so I am a little uncomfortable with wayfinding, railroad access and scheduling, finding places to stay and restaurant menus. Do you think this could be a problem? This will be my first trip to a cyrillic country so I am pretty clueless about how difficult it may be for a solo bike tourist.
I'll see what I can do about including Veliko Tarnovo. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the camping info, but I will probably leave the tent and bag at home and use hostels/hotels/private rooms since this is only a ten day max trip.
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Old 06-15-05, 07:27 AM   #4
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There is at least one member here from Bulgaria, he posted a thread that I moved to Shameless Promotions. See Biking Bulgaria!.

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Old 06-15-05, 07:42 AM   #5
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I believe wombatgrrl toured bulgaria and had a website about it, but I can't remember the URL.....PM or email her....
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Old 06-15-05, 12:13 PM   #6
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There is at least one member here from Bulgaria, he posted a thread that I moved to Shameless Promotions. See Biking Bulgaria!.

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That is a great website for answering many of my questions. Thanks for digging it up.
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Old 06-15-05, 06:21 PM   #7
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For reading roadsigns, I brought a small laminated crib sheet of Cyrilic/Roman alphabet I printed out. I had it on top of my map, in my clear map holder (over a section of map I wasn't using that day).

If you start your trip from Varna, and are a bird watcher, there is a nice sanctuary maybe 5Km south of the city. There's a building with 2 stands/decks and provide binoculars&telescopes and provide a rather nice talk regarding the species&ecosystem. They were closed for the day when I went by, but opened up&gave the talk&pointed out species of interest for me. I found it kind of neat-and I'm not a birder. There's a small donation fee (maybe~2US$ equivalent). The volunteers live there, and I could probably have stayed over as well-but wanted to get some mileage in.

I never found eating out to be a problem. Between my awefull German, English, as well as using "sign" language-I allways ate very well. There is one particular chain of restaraunts/pubs throughout Bulgaria which has picture menus. Some locations of the chain also had English versions of the picure menus. The name of the chain escapes me (?Happy Time Bar&Grill or some such)-kind of reminiscent of TGI Fridays in the states (excellent variety of salads). Restaraunts in the touristy areas had specials listed on chalk boards in either German or English (or both).

Accomidations I stayed at ranged from 3star through zero. I allways fealt safe though. The "oddest" place I ever stayed at in all my travels so far was in Bulgaria just before the Turkish/Bulgarian frontier (in Malko Tarnova). There was a Hospital that they had converted 2 floors of patient rooms into hotel rooms. The "hotel" entrance was also the ambulance bay. From what I could gather there were more "hotel" guests than patients. The guest rooms were spotless, well furnished and huge (easily could accomidate 4 with 4 bikes or some tandems in the rooms). Still odd though.

Bring/buy an extra flattened roll of "comfy" toilet paper, as the lower grade accomidations only have that pink recycled stuff available.

From what I gathered every large town has someplace for the wayward traveler to stay at. Pensions/hotels/perhaps hostels in the touristy areas, and at least what would have been a perhaps "government/party hotel" which are still run. The "government/party" hotels are usually in the biggest cement block building of larger towns-and may have a clock on them.

Last summer they were still filling out tourist reciepts for guests-that state in English (German&French) to hold on to the receipt for the police to check where&when you stayed when you leave the country. Interestingly one chap charged me twice what he wrote down (still only like $10 US though)! No one bothered to check, and I don't believe they've been enforcing that rule for several years now, the receipts are neat liteweight souvineers though.

--If you are a cigarette smoker (I am, & its a nasty habit I know...). Bulgarian brand cigarettes are "interesting", I'd recommend you bring your own if you do smoke.--The only American brand available were occasionaly Marlboro lights & rarely Marlboro red (ick!). I kind of fealt like a black market criminal buying them, as I allways was directed to "that one bartender"-or "that one shop owner" who had them.
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Old 06-15-05, 07:54 PM   #8
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Camel
You are a wealth of info. Many thanks.
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