Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Our last stop in Romania was at the border town of Giurgiu and we decided to stock up on some of our favourite Romanian stuff. Before we reached the border we had to cross a long bridge over the Danube for which we were charged 6 Euro by the Romanian authorities. The road was beautifully paved and maintained till you reach a point where the Bulgarian flag hangs and you are welcomed to Bulgaria, here the road is cracked and full of potholes. We arrived at the border and was again met with the "where from" face of the border guard when we told them that we were from South Africa. He took our passports and car documents and told me to park and return to stand in a que of about 10 people. After 10 minutes we had made no progress and i thought this could take time. While standing a young guard came to me and said "you South African" i replied yes and he said "papers car" i told him i already gave the papers, he said "no papers car wife" and pointed to the camper, Isabeau was standing with our passports and camper documents all stamped and ready to go. How it happend that we skipped the line i don't know but I'm not complaining. The first impression of Bulgaria was the same as the south of Romania, poor, neglegted houses and the road was in a much worse state than in Romania. We booked an Airbnb for our first 2 days in Bulgaria in Karaisen a non descript little village an hour from the border. The apartment was located in the middle of no where and the village looked like a ghost town. Our guest Pierro was an Italian that settled in Bulgaria 10 years ago and he said he also has an apartment at the coast and the mountains. We stayed at his place for 2 nights and had a enjoyable time sleeping in a bed and watching a bit of cable TV and catching up with whats happening in the rest of the world. We left and went south to visit Valiko Tarnova, there is a castle perched on top of a hill and we were told it is a must see, when we arrived it was nice but compared to some of the sights we saw in Romania it was a bit disappointing. We found a campsite about 20km from Valiko Ternova, it had a nice pool and restaurant but all the camping spots were sloped no matter how we tried we could not get the camper level. We read about a campsite and resort not far from where we were that was located at the foothills of a mountain close to the historic Kapinovski monestery. We arrived at the campsite after a scary drive along very narrow roads filled with potholes and impatient Bulgarian drivers overtaking at the most dangerous spots. The campsite was fantastic, lots of trees, beautiful views of the mountain, a waterfall and river where you could swim, a huge pool and a great restaurant. We made a call to stay there for 4 days and just recoup a bit after beeing on the road nearly everyday since we left in June. We just chilled out for the time we were there and it felt like a real holiday and a good break from the stressful driving in Bulgaria. We also decided that we are not going to Sofia or Plovdiv but rather to the coast and from there on to Turkey. Driving through the Bulgarian countryside you get the feeling that every little village was deserted and left to fall apart. There were no one to be seen in these villages and the building were dilapidated and the roads were in a terrible state. You could not believe that they were part of the European Union and still have a 3rd worlds infrastructure. On the way to Burgas we stayed over at a campsite on the banks of a large dam in Panicherevo close to Stara Zagora. We met Dave and Jackie an English couple that had been living in Bulgaria for the last 12 years, we had a great conversation over a couple drinks with them and they told us a lot about living in Bulgaria, the culture and how things have changed over the time that they've lived here. Dave told me that Bulgaria has more road accident fatalities per year than the rest of Europe combined, that i could believe after experiencing it first hand.
We left for Burgas the next day, as you get closer to Burgas the roads, villages and infrastructure in general becomes more European, you can see that a lot of money has been put into this part of the country that attracts many tourist. We arrived late at the Goldfish campsite, it was very expencive and was located close to a popular swimming beach. The campsite was packed with local Bulgarians that have probablably been there the whole summer vacation. Caravans were made to look like makeshift houses and everyone had a party going. We found a spot but the stench of drain and sewerage was hanging in the air, the heat and too many holiday goers was a bit too much for the sewerage system, that or the goldfish had died and was rotting. We woke the next morning and headed for the beach. The beach was devided into sections with pool chairs packed out in lines with umbrellas that was for rent at 4 Euros per chair. We decided to put our towels on the sand in front of the chairs but were angrily chased away by the guy collecting the money. He showed us to the next section of beach that was crowed and said "free beach". The water was nice and we had a nice swim but we were a bit fed up with Bulgaria and we never got a nice feel for the country and people. I could not see us staying another night at sewerage camp so i got onto booking.com and found loads of resort appartments that looked nice on the internet for the same price as our camping. We booked the night not knowing what to expect but it could not be worse than the dead goldfish campsite. We arrived to check in and found a beautiful resort with spacious rooms a huge pool and all the amenities you could think of, we were in heaven. The twins could watch TV and even watch kids youtube on the free and fast internet in our room. We found another resort the next day a couple of kilometers from where we were and it was also very beatiful overlooking Sozopol and the black sea. We had been looking for a new mattress for the camper for awhile and got the address of a shop in Burgas, they manged to help us cut the new mattress to measure and sleeping has been much more comfortable since then. We left Burgas and headed for Turkey, the landscape along the road was beautiful with lush green treefiled hills and even the road was in a good condition.
I found Bulgaria a very depressing country especially the countryside in the centre of the country, it feels and looks like they have not been able to move on from their communist past as well as the other countries we visited along our route. A couple of people told me that although they are part of Europe but they will always be the arse of Europe.