Oh yeah, I though when I entered the outskirts of Istanbul, I’m almost there… It was 2 P.M., the sun was shining and I was getting excited about the perspective of crossing the border between two continents in just a few moments. I stopped to ask how far it was to the Bosporus (read my lips: BOS-PO-RUS, water, bridges, centre, you know…) and was filled with lots of positive energy when they showed me four, five fingers – four or five kilometres, right? I’ll be there in no time at all! They meant 40-50 kilometres to Bosporus itself, don’t even mention my host’s place on the Asian side… My optimism was gradually fading away as I understood how huge this city was. The faster I was cycling the highway leading across Istanbul (I broke all my records exceeding 70 km/h), the more the city would stretch and laugh at me. The cars were passing me by at a speed…

I left Vize early in the morning, spending my last moments there walking around the old city walls and looking at the all-flat panorama of agricultural fields surrounding the town. I planned to do the route that remained until Istanbul in two days not to push things too hard:) And two days it was – the first one with a long tea-invitation break and lots of families picnicking in nearby groves. The night was warm enough to sleep in the forest without even putting up my tent. I stayed just a little bit too close to the road, though – empty during the day it became quite noisy at night. And in the morning – a really bad surprise! A flat tire… For the first time during my trip there was a problem with my bike. I decided to pump the air once in a couple of hours and take care of tube replacement later on. I also found a…

Before I left for Turkey I had a little walk in the town centre – there is not much to sightsee, except for Buisness Incubator where there is Internet access and for central square where big Romani families stroll for no apparent reason. There are also some Tracian ruins to be seen around the town but, unfortunately, you need a guide to get there… I met two cyclists from Sofia heading for Turkey – we did the ritual photo /address exchange and I set off… It only takes a couple of kilometres to get to the border but the area is very hilly and you need to climb your way up. And at the border crossing – on the Turkish side the officer asked me whether I was nuts and why would I care to vist Turkey at all:) Then a tour of different desks – a payment here, a stamp there and a signature in a different place……

Riding along the coast from Primorsko felt nice – no more big hotel complexes, supermarkets and big esplanades blocking the view of the seaside… Kiten and Tsarevo were very human-scale and quaint. It seemed that nobody cleaned up the beach since the last season, though. After the relaxing first stages I had to put myself back together to face some tough climbing – the hilly turns seemed endless… I finally got to Malko Tarnovo, a little town close to Turkish border. There is only one hotel around – nicely refurnished a couple of years ago using EU money; the only thing they forgot when doing renovation was putting up a “hotel” sign – this made me waste some time wandering around…

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Jazda od Primorska przez Kiten i do Tsareva była bardzo przyjemna – stosunkowo niewiele tu hotelisk przesłaniających widok morza, wciąż brak turystów. A same miasteczka – sympatyczne, o proporcjach chciałoby się rzec “ludzkich”. Niestety, okoliczne plaże nie były…

On my way to Primorsko I made a stop in a wild beach just before Sozopol. The weather was fine but seemingly I was the only one to notice it. I had all the sand and sea just for myself. After a little nap I entered Sozopol, a little town divided into two parts: the new Sozopol with all the new hotels one on top of the other and the old fishermen village part, the main tourist attraction around. I had a pleasant walk through narrow cobbled streets, looking up to facades of traditional wooden houses that had been nicely restored. The whole tourist area is not big – an hour or so was just enough to get the feeling of that place.

With the Black Sea to my left I passed some impressive marshes to my right – this is where the Ropotamo river nature reserve starts. And it is said to be a fascinating place for ornithologists. Regular…

When you ride your bike to Burgas at some point you might be surprised with signs telling you that cycling is not allowed on that route anymore, without giving you any alternative proposition. It is up to you what you will do but I decided to cycle anyway (fast!) and hope there will be no police cars on the way to stop me. Burgas was a nice surprise, especially after seeing a big smog cloud hanging over the city… When you get into that cloud, you don’t mind it anymore and you start appreciating the walkable city centre and the immense park with all those fascinating sculptures around and people selling their everything in the alleys…

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Niemiłym zaskoczeniem na drodze do Burgas są znaki zakazu ruchu rowerów – znaki, które postanowiłem zlekceważyć, przyspieszyłem tylko trochę, żeby mieć ten odcinek jak najszybciej za sobą i tylko miałem nadzieję, że nie natknę się na policję… Burgas zaskoczyło mnie natomiast pozytywnie –…

For most of this part I had to fight the cold wind coming from the Black Sea. I arrived in Byala with a light cold but a warm shower got me back in shape in no time at all:) I lodged in a cheap hotel – I was the first and unexpected guest this season. I was greeted with tea and cookies and obtained a room on top floor, with the best view on this future tourist-crowded town…

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Przez większą część trasy walczyłem z chłodnym wiatrem wiejącym od Morza Czarnego. Dotarłem do Byalej lekko przeziębiony, ale gorący prysznic zaraz postawił mnie na nogi. Przenocowałem w tanim hotelu – byłem pierwszym, niespodziewanym gościem w tym sezonie. Podjęto mnie herbatą i ciastkami oraz zakwaterowano w pokoju z najlepszym widokiem na Byalą – miasteczko aspirujące do miana kurortu.

It was easy and short (and flat) this time… I got to Varna early enough to spend half a day greeting the Black Sea. It was not hot enough to sunbathe yet so the beach was almost empty. Which also meant that there were no crowds to hide the ugly soc-real architectural complex that dominated the coast. Some attempts are being made to make it look acceptable but to no big result so far… One curious thing about Varna (and other Bulgaria seaside resorts) was that you could find an espresso machine virtually everywhere – good thing if you are addicted… I was hosted by Neda and Mimo with whom I made a little tour in search for “raw material” for moussaka. And believe me, it was worth it. And chatting with them felt great – I hope to see you again soon, guys!

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Krótko, łatwo i płasko…Do Varny dotarłem na tyle wcześnie,m że mogłem poświęcić ładnych parę godzin…

In Dobrich I found a really cheap place to stay (16 Lev) – you would probably call it a Youth Hostel if they had the license. But that’s impossible with the hygiene standard:) Other than that the place felt really cosy. The owner offered me a gift, too. I got a glass with Bulgarian popstar making publicity for watermelons – yeah, you guessed right the attributes she was using to encourage you – no finesse but a real souvenir:) I had a nice evening watching a football game (Barcelona vs. Inter Milan) with a bunch of electrical company workers; one of them kept on asking if I had a sister – I don’t want to know why).

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W Dobrichu udało mi się znaleźć tanie miejsce noclegowe (16 Lev) – coś na kształt schroniska młodzieżowego, tyle że niespełniającego wymogów sanitarnych… Poza tym było bardzo przyjemnie, wręcz rodzinnie. Od właściciela otrzymałem prezent w postaci szklanek stanowiących element kampanii promującej spożywanie arbuzów,…

The route to Silistra was marked by two meetings – the first one in Bogdantsi, where I made a stop to buy some refreshments. When I sat next to the shop to have my pancake a group of local Gypsies approached. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but they were surely interested in my vehicle:) After a while a car arrived and out came Valeri, the coolest guy in town. In very good English he told me about the village populated mostly by Turkish Gypsies (that is precisely how they refer to themselves; the word “Romani” would be completely out place here) who don’t speak any Bulgarian and don’t even try to integrate with the hosting nation… which of course leads to hostility and general lack of understanding. And on top of it – as I was told by Valeri – lots of his fellow villagers earn their money in not-all-legal ways… However, there are some Gypsies that…