Hellas!

Athens (Greece), 08.11.2013

Sunshine greeted me as I left the hotel, and I was really tempted to take a walk through the center of Sofia, stroll through the streets and enjoy a breakfast in a cafe. But focus! I wanted to see Meteora in Greece where I had been almost 20 years ago on one of my first car trips. So I left Sofia in the morning, and soon after reached a mountain range on the road south where low hanging thick clouds made the sun disappear. 200km into the day, I reached the border with Greece. The villages I crossed in Bulgaria were very poor, run down, half abandoned. The EU’s wealth hadn’t spread until here yet. Continue reading “Hellas!”

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading “The City Crossed Twice”

From Sofia to Istanbul

Good morning Sofia.

We wake up in a nice, spacious hotel room with the charm of past decades… and a socialist touch to it. Due to a late night and a time change (+1h) we have missed breakfast time. No problem – the reception lady organized us a coffe & sadnwiches, a nice gesture.
It was the very first time for both of us in Sofia, but considering the fact that this will be the only city we will see again on our trip back from Vladivostok, we have reduced the sightseeing to the famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

20130424-004700.jpg

This is beautiful church, dedicated to the soldiers who left their lives in the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
I got inspired to light a candle, we took some pictures outside and than the tour continued, 435km towards Istanbul.

20130424-100140.jpg
At the beginning and the end of today’s trip we had a proper motorway which made the travelling faster, but in the middle the road got interesting…and all the way to Turkey we drove together with
many, many trucks.

At the Bulgarian-Turkish border we waited 1h – what a bliss.
As far as we could see that, the people on the bordeer were from Turkey, Serbia and Romania – and us.
When the guy on the Turkish side approached us for the car inspection, I wish you could have seen his face! And then the question: any bombs, weapons or drugs with you??? No, just camping stuff!
And off we went.
Right at the entry to the turkeish highway we were greeted by a shepherd with his herd of goats. Not only were there lots of them, but they also occupied the fast left lane…

20130424-095255.jpg

The turkish motorway was in great shape, 3 lines led us smoothly to Istanbul, where we will spend 2 days at friends place (thanks Almu!).

Such an interesting, fascinating city.
It is 4th time for me and for Boris to come back here, and we will certainly always be coming back.
The drivers got crazier the closer we got to Istanbul – the usual big city traffic. I was very happy we managed to getto the Taksim Square without geting really lost. And we managed to find our friends place without the gps. 😉 hey, i mean that surelly is something!
Finally, after we settled down we went for a food discovery – I wanted to show Boris a small, nice place whith a delicously fresh and tasty tantuni, that almu showed me 2 years ago. Mmmmh, we were thrilled.
Of course we had to add some baklava to it and then back home.

Tomorrow we will see more of this beautiful city.
Iyi geceler istanbul.

From Belgrade to Sofia

Sofia (Bulgaria), 20.04.2013

It was the first time I visited Serbia and Belgrade, Helena already knew the city although from 20 years ago. After a healthy breakfast on the terrace of our Hotel we went for a tour of the city.On saturday morning there was already a lot of action on the streets, including a biker meeting in the city center that later ended with hundreds of bikes driving through the city. We found the Ivo Andric Museum on our way to the Cathedral of Saint Sava, a huge building that is currently being renovated. Walking through the smaller streets I had to think about Athens very often, mixed with post-communist charme I found in East-Berlin. The bohéme district of Skadarlija was the perfect spot for a drink before heading back to the hotel and take off. While Helena met an aunt and cousin, I packed the car. Before leaving the city, we went to see the Tito Museum, or Museum of Yugoslav History. It was not easy to find, but a Police jeep finally escorted us to the place. Set on a hill in a district full of embassies, villas and parks, there are three buildings. We saw one of them, the pavilion with Tito’s tombstone. Unfortunately shortly after us an entire busload of senior tourists flooded the museum and we had to leave.

DSC_0025 DSC_0024 DSC_0015 DSC_0013DSC_0042On our way to Sofia (Bulgaria), we wanted to see the Studenica monastery, but it was already late and it would have taken a 250km detour on small roads. So we skipped it. Tito won over the monastery in the fight for our attention. Until Nis the road was very good, a true motorway. After that it converted into a smaller one-lane road, and we had to slow down. As it became dark we approached the Bulgarian frontier, and found out that we had forgotten our IDs in the hotel in Belgrade. Not good.

We finally reached Sofia at night. Driving through the city (and getting lost a couple of times) we saw many impressive buildings. This time we found a restaurant not too far away from the hotel for a very late night dinner (even for spanish timing), with great food, local beer, and a fantastic dessert that we’re not sure what it was (a mix of cream, nuts, italian style white “torrone” on a soft biscuit). A nice way to close this day.

Trip data (Day/Total)

– Km driven: 473 /3.713

– Hrs driving: 6/-

– Diesel l/100km: 10,6/10,7