After a “village” breakfast at the Devin Spa Hotel (included in our room rate of 42.50 Euro) we packed up the ANIMAL and hit the road. We had originally planned to head north for about 550km to Motocamp….where well known HU member, Doug Wathke, and his Bulgarian girlfriend, Polly, have set up MotoCamp Bulgaria which is a hotel, café and campsite for bikers and the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. It is located in the small village of Idilevo at the foot of the beautiful Stara Planina mountain. However, when we worked things out it was going to be a big ask to get there and back to the Turkish boarder in the timeframes we needed due to our Green Card Insurance for Europe running out….and Vince had heard about huge delays at the border which further compounded the problem….we decided not to chance it. We sent our apologies to Polly, who had already booked us in…..maybe next time! More info can be found at http://www.motosapiens.org/motocamp/
So we just gunned it for the border instead…..which was about 4 hours to cover about 300km. Sure enough the border was packed……there was at least 5 km of trucks backed up….people were out of their now stationary vehicles…..the car line was not quite so bad….maybe about 2 km or so…..but a group of patched up bikers from Turkey were weaving their way through the traffic and so the ANIMAL tagged along…. we were lined up about 5 or cars back before we knew it….Brilliant. I dismounted and got our paperwork together……Turkey is the first place where we need to get our Carnet du Passage completed and stamped. The passport and customs people from Bulgaria were no problem…just stamping passports and waving us through customs ……then onto the Turkey boarder. Again a little bit of a wait….but nothing tragic…passports stamped but customs were not keen to deal with our carnet…..I insisted that it was important and we needed it done….I had even filled it all in for them ……all I wanted was a signature and a stamp….eventually they sent us to another building….and the girls there were nice…..Vince had warned me that our rego papers were out of date (the renewal had happened on line and we don’t have the actual current documents)….so I did some distraction talking to the girls asking them if they had been busy and saying what a lovely country they must have since so many people are lined up to come in etc….they softened and smiled and told me about some places I must go see……and luckily the expired date was not detected……everything in order…..a sticker with a barcode was put onto the ANIMAL and as we passed through the final customs inspection point we were scanned and sent on our way. I was pretty pleased with myself…..as borders can be difficult and stressful…and as we travel further East…..more complicated. All up it took us about an hour and a half…..brilliant! Vince was really chuffed with how things went as well….he says I’m just the bomb! It will be his turn to do all this when we get to Iran and Pakistan….as they won’t want to deal with a woman…..so it will be all up to him!
Now in Turkey, we then did a further 200km to arrive at Uzunkopri for the night, stopping enroute at Edrine for lunch. We were sitting at a little cafe when another biker arrived…..he was passing through on his way home (he is Croatian but lives in Germany)….saw the ANIMAL and had to stop and say hello. He was a highly entertaining fellow called Mato. He chatted to us at length about his many travels and made us a gift of a sticker for the ANIMAL, as well as a Croatian flag sticker. We gave him a 2 up adventures sticker which he immediately put onto his own bike. He was a lot of fun.
In Uzunkopri we stopped at the first hotel we saw…. the Gunes Hotel….at the tidy sum of 100 TL (Turkish Lera)….we had three single beds to choose from in a very old and shabby room, overlooking the markets frequented by scavenging dogs and cats. The ANIMAL was parked in the alley beside the hotel which the owner assured us was safe! (Despite our concerns she was still there, unharmed in the morning.)
After freshening up we took a short walk through the streets and market where we met a young boy, with a long unpronounceable name, whom we have nicknamed “Aladin”. He was helping in a stall with a man….who we established was not his father….and when I asked to take his photo it became almost a family snapshot. The shop owner gave Vince and I a banana each….they were really yummy. No one could speak English and we of course can’t speak Turkish…..but none the less it was a lovely interaction. We told him, as best we could, that we would come back in the morning and buy some cherries to take with us.
We found a small cafe and Vince had dinner…..I shared a little of it….as my tummy was still not that great, and I didn’t want to upset it more….what I did eat was delicious….the food in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey is all fantastic….so fresh and tasty….it makes me question the quality of what we get back home.
We had an early night, as Vince was in quite a bit of pain from the long ride today….tomorrow should be a shorter day.