Day 70 – Trouble on the Border

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Published: September 9th 2023

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Leaving PirotLeaving PirotLeaving Pirot

At dinner last night we decided that instead of travelling 25kms to Dimitrovgrad, we’d travel 50kms to Dragoman into Bulgaria, making the following day to Sofia much more manageable. It was also the fact we couldn’t find any available accommodation in Dimitrovgrad which helped force this decision.
We had breakfast at the hotel and left just after 8am. We had to ride the 25kms to Dimitrovgrad and then there were two climbs similar to yesterday to negotiate before coasting downhill into Dragamon. Well, part one of ride to Dimitrovgrad was plain sailing and easy riding. As we left town and started up the hill that are route was indicating, an old bloke sitting on his porch said the road we were on stopped just up ahead. We had a dilemma. We decided we’d ride along the railway line down below as far as we could and somehow try and get back on to our route further up the road. We did this for a while and then realised we’d have to do a border crossing. During the morning part of the ride we had asked some police officers if we were allowed on the motorway. They, emphatically said we weren’t.

Pretty street in DimitrovgradPretty street in DimitrovgradPretty street in Dimitrovgrad


We were meant to stop here today, but change our minds at dinner last night

Using our maps we couldn’t find any way to the border without going onto the motorway. We spent time trying to see if we could use side roads to get there, all to no avail. We thought we could go the wrong way down a one way lane to keep off the motorway but were sent back by a truck driver. We eventually came to the conclusion that we would have to go on the motorway, which we did, and then tried using a side lane to the border crossing off the main highway. We almost got to the crossing and were sent back again by a guy who said this area was only for trucks. Again we circled back and decided we’d have to go were all the cars were going, and so we did. It took almost an hour to go through the Serbian border crossing and then to go through the Bulgarian border crossing. Each without incident thankfully. Once through, we were now on the motorway again, not something we were keen about. A couple more back and forth’s looking for side roads that existed on maps but not in reality left us with no choice

Between bordersBetween bordersBetween borders

but to travel about a kilometer on the motorway to an exit.
We had lost almost two hours trying to work through the border crossing and when we crossed the border we had crossed into a new time zone and had lost another hour.
We now had to plot a new route. It was 25kms to Dragoman and our two hill climbs were still in play. We had a bite to eat for lunch and set off, a few kilometers of flat and then straight into the fist climb. The climbs didn’t seem quite so bad today. I’m not sure if that’s because we had just experienced yesterday’s climbs or if they were perhaps just a bit easier than yesterday, either way the scenery was magnificent. First there were rocky crags jutting out of the side of the hills, dense forest, and on one side, a mountain range disappeared into the distance. At about 700m above sea level there was a plain with quite a bit of hay being grown.
We grinded our way through the hills and enjoyed the coast downhill into Dragoman. We found our accommodation easily enough and were able to add another room

Climbing in BulgariaClimbing in BulgariaClimbing in Bulgaria

to our booking which was much better than having a double bed and sofa bed between us in the room we had.
Tomorrow’s ride is now a very manageable 50kms to Sofia, the capitol of Bulgaria, with not much climbing where we’ll spend a rest day. We now have a new currency to rap our heads around, the LEV.
Distance travelled today: 58kms
Distance travelled so far: 3,796kms



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https://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Bulgaria/West/blog-1079536.html

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