The City Crossed Twice

Sofia (Bulgaria), 08.11.2013

The route of this journey runs like an infinity sign with a hugely inflated eastern loop. The place where the lines meet is Sofia, the only city to be visited twice. After the first stop in April, today I reached it again. In the morning I left romantic Sibiu in bright sunshine and tried to cross the Carpathian mountains to the south through a smaller, more interesting road, the Transfagarasan.

Unfortunately after 30km up into the mountains through a beautiful forest, the road was closed and I had to turn back. What a pity, it is supposed to be a very scenic route with a lake and many hairpin turns, a lot of driving fun. I took the “bigger” road south instead, and spent the rest of the morning and noon trying to not loose patience on small countryside roads populated by a lot of trucks, agricultural vehicles, old Dacias that should be heading just one way, to the scrapyard, but instead love to drive at 20-30km/h in front of me through endless villages with plenty of kids and animals that could spontaneously cross the road at any time, aka no overtaking possible.

DSC_0001At the border with Bulgaria there were more controls then when crossing over from Moldova (not EU) to Romania (EU). The roads stayed small and winding, and soon it started to get dark. I almost ended up with no fuel, but found a gas station that saved me on the last km of autonomy. Not a lot happened today. As I drove towards Sofia I remembered how I reached the city in April, on the first visit. How much had changed since, and how many places had I seen. The entire journey passed in front of my eyes again. I also thought that tomorrow, until I’ll reach the Meteora area in Greece, that will be the last stretch of unknown territory I’ll cross. By and by, the adventure ends on this trip, and the time comes to see friends and family again.

I reached Sofia in the dark and drove straight into the center of town. Last time it had taken ages to find the hotel, now I would have reached it in a couple of minutes (thanks to Google maps) had there been no protest march between the Alexander Nevsky cathedral and my hotel, that was just a few meters away. But at least I discovered the area around the hotel a bit, trying to find my way through the small streets of what appeared to be a bar and restaurant district. As I parked the car in front of the hotel, the concierge stood looking. “You went to Vladivostok? That is almost as far as China!” “It is beyond China, sir.”

DSC_0008

Trip data

– Km driven: 700

– Hrs on the road: 10,5h

– Diesel l/100km: 8,9

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