Hitchhiking through Bulgaria

I already wrote about my travel around Romania, this time I gonna report about our trip to Bulgaria. We that’s Laura, Almos and me. Everything began when Almos mentioned he would like to see Bulgaria. Nobody of us ever been in Bulgaria, therefore we were very delighted about the idea. The following two weeks we checked out places we want to visit and we started our trip. I remember the reactions of the people, when we told them that we will go to Bulgaria by hitchhiking, either it was “you are crazy” or “good luck”.

10th April Craiova
Baile Tusnad, Brasov, Bran, Pitesti, Craiova, Isalnita
Very excited we started at 8 o’clock in Baile Tusnad. Although it was Sunday we hadn’t any problem to catch cars. Especially the ride from Bran to Pitesti was great; with an impressive landscape and a very friendly driver. On this way we also visited a cave and our driver bought us a glass of jam (unfortunately it got broken later and we had no opportunity to taste). We were so deeply impressed by the surrounding on the way, that we decided to have another journey in May to the villages between Bran and Pitesti. We were very unlucky when we arrived in Craiova, because we had heavy rainfall and we ascertained that our hotel was not in Craiova, but in Isalnita, 20 kilometers away (Thanks to Google maps and Booking.com). We didn’t want to hitchhike and look for the hotel in the rain, thus we took a cab. We strongly hoped we wouldn’t have this weather all journey long, and indeed it was the only day.

11th April Belogradschik
Isalnita, Craiova, Widin, Belogradschik
This day we walked longer time along the road than we spent in cars. At first we hitchhiked from Isalnita to Craiova, and we stood in front of the problem to come to the outskirt to start to hitchhike. To the best of my recollection we walked one and a half hour. We were lucky to wait just a few minutes for a driver who gave us a lift to the border. When we wanted to cross the border and showed our Identity cards, the border policeman asked (in a very good German) if I would have any other document from Germany, because he couldn’t recognize me on the picture. I showed him my health insurance card and he let me in. We were very happy to cross the border at midday, but we crowed too soon. Now the most annoying part of our trip began; we were not able to get a lift to Belogradschik and we walked 20 kilometers along the street for 6 hours. When almost all hope was gone one car with a Szekler driver stopped and brought us to our destination Belogradschik, although it was detour of 15 kilometers for him.
Arrived in Belogradschik we were exhausted but also awed by the beauty of the rocks and the nature.

12th April Vratca
Belogradschik, Magura, Belogradschik, Vratsa
After a very deep sleep we discovered the rocks of Belogradschik in the morning. It was awesome to climb on the rocks and to enjoy the incomparable view over the area. At midday we started our way to Magura cafe, with the hope that it will be easier than yesterday to get a lift. And indeed, it took a bit time (caused by the marginal amount of cars on the way), but in the end got a lift. The cave was very nice to see, even when I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t see the cave paintings. They were in a part of the cave where it was just possible to go with a guide, and he was already in the cave (we saw him later on his way back). Therefore we would need to wait more than one hour and probably he wouldn’t be able to speak English; so we decided to discover the cave by our own.
Because Magura is located in a very famous wine region we bought a bottle of local wine and went back to Belogradschik. After half an hour walking a bus stopped for us (we still don’t know which kind of bus it was, nobody who got on the bus payed a ticket, we neither). From Belogradschik we wanted to continue our way to Pleven, but we had doubts if we would have enough time. We caught a truck to Vratsa and when we arrived there at seven pm we decided to stay there. Because we were on the road 5 kilometers away from the city we started to hitchhike again and 2 minutes later we had a new driver who even helped us to find the cheapest sleeping accommodation.

13th April Veliko Tarnovo
Vratsa, Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo
Because we didn’t arrive in Pleven the day before, it was our next destination. Our first ride was probably the most strange on our trip. In the car were two big man and on the way we stopped for approx. 15 minutes. One man left the car and instead of him another man and a women, who started to cry during the ride, got in the car. He let us out somewhere between Borovan and Pleven. The secound driver we had to Pleven was really kind, we talked about the history of Bulgaria, he showed us a nice place in the park “Kaylaka” and explained how we can continue the way. After we walked through the park we started to hitchhike to Veliko Tarnovo. On this way we also had our first female driver. When we arrived in Veliko Tarnovo we looked online for a cheap hotel. When we found one, we started our way and checked with Google maps and GPS where we have to go. Thanks to Google maps again, we had a long walk out of the city of Veliko Tarnovo. When we were sure we went somewhere wrong, we decided to hitchhike back (we were just 2 kilometers out of the city, but we didn’t want to walk the whole way back). A couple took pity on us and we rode back to the city center. The couple was also able to explain the direction we had to go. In the end we arrived in our accommodation and we had even enough time to go out in the evening and see something from the old and beautiful city.

14th April Ruse
Veliko Tarnovo, Kaya Bunar, Ruse
In the morning we discovered Veliko Ternarvo. As I aready mentioned it’s a beautiful city and with its old it reminded me in Sighisoara. At midday we took the bus to Samovodene and hitchhiked from there to Kaya Bunar. We got a Lift to the center of Hotnitsa and walked the rest rest of the way (approx. 3 kilometers). There were almost no cars on the way and the few cars didn’t stop for us. When we reached Kaya Bunar, we were strongly impressed and overcome by the beauty and magic of this place. I am not sure whether Belogradschik or Kaya Bunar was more formidable; both places had their own special appeal. Back in Hotnitsa we drank something in a bar and continued our way to Ruse. Our first driver was even able to speak German, because in the 70s he participated in a student exchange program to Leipzig and Berlin, but because he didn’t use German the last 40 years he forgot a lot. Our second driver brought us to Ruse. He was a Scotsman who lived in Romania and on the way home to Brasov. For a few seconds we thought about if we should go until Brasov, but we decided to comply with our plan and go to Ruse. In Ruse it was raining a bit, but fortunately not as much as in Craiova, but still it was annoying, especially because we had to find our guesthouse. When we found the address, we ascertained that it isn’t our guesthouse, but a car service. I started to think that I had a wrong address, so we looked for a place with free WiFi. We found a bar , but when we checked the address it was the right. Now it was the question what we should do. Simultaneously we looked for other night accommodations and asked some people in the bar if they know our guesthouse. In the end a man in the bar called the householder and she picked us up. Now we saw that the guesthouse was located behind of the car service with the same house number. The guesthouse was not really nice but for 1 night it was OK.

15th April Baile Tusnad
Ruse, Ploiesti, Brasov, Baile Tusnad
The time ran very fast, our trip through Bulgaria was almost over and we had to come back to Baile Tusnad. But we didn’t relinquish walking around Ruse for a few hours on our last day. Around half past ten we took a bus (more precisely two buses, because we took a wrong one at first) to the Danube bridge. Behind of the bridge is the border to Romania. When we wanted to cross the Danube bridge, we noticed that it’s not allowed to walk on the bridge. We had no other possibility than to stay and try to hitchhike. It came to the light, that it’s very hard on this place. We waited approx. one and a half hours and almost all hope was gone. We even went to the truck drivers and asked them if they can take us over the bridge, but we had no success. We were even ready to split our group. Suddenly, while we ate our lunch, one car stopped for us. We couldn’t believe but it was true, we got a lift until after Ploiesti. Our driver was a missionary from Romania who lives in Bulgaria. In Ploiesti we caught a car to Brasov and from Brasov we took the train to Baile Tusnad, because after one hour trying we had no passion to continue.

Now our great journey to Bulgaria is finished, but we already made plans for our new trips to the area between Bran and Pitesti and to the sea side of Romania and Bulgaria. But at first we are back in Baile Tusnad and have new energy for activities with the children.

The pictures are made by Laura Timša

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