Noisy guests in our hotel (50 Euros including breakfast) managed to keep me awake most of the night and after breakfast we thought we could get a quick start to the day….only to find that Greece is an hour ahead of Albania, so instead of 8.00am it was already 9.00am. I have had to use two tie down straps to hold my jacket together as the zip is completely buggered. After yesterdays issues with my senna falling off and my braces whipping my neck in the wind because my jacket couldn’t close I thought it best to secure it somehow….Vince says it’s a new line of Adventure Riding Lingerie ….NOT!
It was only about 40km to the Greek border, so after refueling it wasn’t long before the Greek Officials were questioning us…..Vince because he no longer looks like his passport photo (all hair, moustash and beard)….I was also asked to confirm our relationship as married….otherwise all uneventful and we were soon waiting for the other officials to stamp our passports. It was very convenient as one side of the office stamped us out of Greece and the other stamped us into Bulgaria. A short ride later and we were at the Bulgarian Customs, but the saw our Aussie Passports in my hand and just waved us through….no searching for the ANIMAL! Not that we have anything to hide …its just less time consuming not having to unpack and repack panniers, dry bags etc.
We stopped in a small village just after the border called Marino Pole and managed to buy a couple of soft drinks and chocolate bars….the prices were in Lek but they allowed us to use our Euros (2 for the lot) as we didn’t have any local currency.
We rode along the 198 scenic route which took us through to Dospat, but we stopped a little short at a local cafe near Osina to have a toilet break and some lunch…..although the owner spoke little English, we were able to sort out lunch of Mussaka with a delicious yoghurt side. Two serves, drinks and break cost us all of 12.50 Euro …..cheap as chips here! (And afterwards Karen thinks it was actually only 12.50 Lek, so she paid double perhaps).
We continued on towards Teshel, but there were no hotels there, so we headed South to Trigrad, as we saw a sign. This took us through the scenic Trigrad Gorge and past the Dyavolsko Garlo (Devils Throat Cave) and the turn off for Yagodina cave (8km out of Trigrad …part of the Buynovsko Gorge. Much of the traffic involved horse or donkey drawn vehicles….and of course we still had to watch for livestock. The biggest issue was the quality of the roads….Vince says every now and then they build a bit of road around a pot hole in Bulgaria….some of the road had subsided on the mountain side and there were many large cracks and areas where the road was sunken….a good reason never to ride at night!
A local woman flagged us down and tried to encourage us into sleeping in her house for 30 Euro, but we managed to politely fob it off and continued on our way. The hotel we had seen the sign for could only accommodate us for one night and we were hoping for two, so we backtracked to an earlier hotel we had seen ….and they too could only give us one night. Katia (sic) our host spoke no English but took quite a shine to me….she thought I was 16….way too young for Vince (haha)….she is 57 and was keen to know our ages (which we wrote down for her)….another local who spoke some English helped explain. The hotel was lovely and only cost 40 Euro for the night. We had a meal there, with a few drinks and it cost us only 21 Euro for everything.
There is a project supporting Brown Bear Observation out of Devin with a small centre near our hotel….we made contact with the organisers (Danny) and have booked a tour (150 Lek about 75 Euro) for us to hire a Jeep and a Guide and we will go tomorrow around 5.00pm for the Observation …we get to go to the cave and to stay in a hide and watch the bears…..sounds great…we can’t wait!