Bulgaria

We visited Bulgaria in the spring of 2023 I had low expectations, though our friends who had visited it told us it was a hidden gem. I have to admit I was wrong and they were right, it is a hidden gem. The population density is less than other countries so the countryside seems unspoiled and the pace of life is not rushed. The capitol Sofia was an interesting combination of Soviet monumental buildings and modern infrastructure. The people are a little stern looking, smiles are not a big part of the culture, but when you get to meet them they are fun and charming and will bend over backwards to help you.

The roads are generally two lanes with frequent passing lanes. Traffic volume is usually pretty low so travel was relatively relaxing. We were pulled over twice, once for a vignette violation which is a long story, but I was at fault. (We entered Bulgaria one day earlier than I signed up for on line.) The other was for “speeding”, though I think the real reason was to check our documentation, after reviewing our paperwork the officer sent us on our way. In both cases the officers were thoroughly professional and polite, unlike their international reputation. We paid the fine for the vignette violation by credit card on the spot.

The camping infrastructure is good, and while campsites are not abundant, all major cities and tourist sites have at least one, and they tend to be very modern. Three of our most memorable campsites for good reasons are from Bulgaria, which is a very high hit rate.

Bulgaria has spectacular internet connection. It is the fastest nationwide network we have experienced anywhere in the world. Apparently it was mostly installed in the last 15 years and is state of the art.

Favorite Place

Ron-Rock Hewn Churches of Ivanovo. We have visited many cathedrals and churches in Europe but none were as unique as these churches carved into caves in northern Bulgaria. The gorge the caves are in is also beautiful. The campground nearby overlooking the gorge is run by a very nice family and we really enjoyed our two stays there.

Ton-Plovdiv. One of the nicest cities we have visited. Easy to walk and get around town and a lot to see. I really enjoyed it.

Disappointment

Ron-The Black Sea coast. We planned to spend a few days at the Black Sea but decided to move on after only one night. The first place we stopped was a new resort town that was not very appealing and the campground was closed. We shifted about an hour north and the campground was open, but the coast was not very inspiring, it was not new construction but old construction from the communist era. The construction was weird and not very inspiring, so after talking it over we decided to move on.

Ton-The vignette system that tripped us up. We had originally planned to enter Bulgaria on May 5th, but decided to go on May 4th. Their on line system is very sophisticated and they could have informed us we entered a day early and ask us if we wanted to adjust our entrance date, instead they choose to track us down and fine us more than what we had paid for a month of usage. It left a bad taste in my mouth even though we were at fault for getting there a day early.

Favorite Food or Drink

Ron-Lyutenitsa. This is a wonderful salsa like spread made of tomatoes, red peppers, cumin, garlic and other stuff. I loved it and we always had some in François after we discovered it by accident in a deli. It is wonderful spread on bread. All of the Balkan countries have a variation of it, but I really liked the Bulgarian version the best.

Ton-Hadjidragonovs Cellar in Sofia. I did something I rarely do, I asked to return to a restaurant for a second time on the trip The food was “traditional” Bulgarian grilled meats that were well cooked. The meat platter was hung from the light above the table by hooks, probably for tourists as it turns out it wasn’t that practical but I enjoyed it. The service was good and the atmosphere was fun.

Surprise

Ron-Plovdiv. This is reputedly the longest continuously inhabited city in Europe, and the second largest city in Bulgaria, and I had never heard of it. It is a beautiful city with a great pedestrian zone full of cafes, and restaurants. It is full of Roman ruins as is a was a very important city during the Roman times. I thoroughly enjoyed our time there. It also has the most high tech campground we have ever come across in our travels which was interesting to possibly see the future of camping with no contact with humans, except your fellow campers.

Ton-The quality of the internet access and how “online” things are in Bulgaria. I had read about the internet before we entered Bulgaria, but I had a wait and see attitude. It was really fast and finding a good connection was easy. Many things were done on line that we had never seen before.

May 31, 2023 Rila BU

After two days of heavy driving we slowed down today. Rila Monastery was one of our must see destinations when we planned our trip. On

Read More »

May 15, 2023 Koshov BU

Ton and I have been married 41 years but we still mis-communicate with each other. The plan this morning was to head to Bucharest and

Read More »

May 14, 2023 Koshov BU

The image above is from the front window of François tonight. Its places like this that make the whole motorhoming/RVing thing worth while. For those

Read More »

May 8, 2023 Plovdiv BU

Plovdiv definitely needed another day, so we headed in late morning. Today is the final day of a long weekend, most of the stores were

Read More »

May 7, 2023 Plovdiv BU

I’ve always felt that I was a seasoned traveller who had a pretty broad knowledge of many countries history and geography. I had studied Bulgaria

Read More »

May 5, 2023 Sofia BU

I had low expectations for Sofia. I think my views of the former Soviet Bloc countries are sometimes skewed by my experience serving in the

Read More »