It was a blessing in disguise that there was no viable camping option near Sozopol. Travelling along the border region inland had introduced Dan to a much more appealing side of Bulgaria than had been evident at the coast. Biser, the village in which Sakar Hills Camping is located, is a pleasant little place, with a basic but rather charming restaurant that can provide a rather more authentic view of Bulgarian life than would be offered by the establishments at the coastal resorts. The average UK palate is rather unaccustomed to seeing “Fried pig lung” on a menu, but away from the wastefulness of the developed West, it’s far more common for every part of an animal to be made full use of – which kind of feels like it’s how it should be.
On Monday 2 May, Dan was up bright and early and had everything packed away and ready to hit the road before 8 am. Whilst sat drinking a coffee, he made use of the campsite’s inclusive WiFi to check his email while he still could.
A message from Ed did not sound good – his new bike, hurriedly bought and prepped to take the place of the one that had caused our adventurers to turn back from Germany a couple of weeks ago was now similarly uncomfortable. Now fitted with its various borrowed adventure accoutrements Ed’s DRZ was nolonger the nice smooth bike that had been purchased. Ed had set off on it the previous morning only to turn back before even getting to Dover, with numb hands once again. This put a crimp in Dan’s plan. Turkey is an amazing place but it knows it and everything is reassuringly expensive. Fuel is around 2 Euros a litre and camping within striking distance of Istanbul for sightseeing and getting onward visas would also be pricey. So it didn’t make sense to head there without further biggsy discussions and another biggs-bike sit-rep.
The two-hour time difference betwen Bulgaria and the UK made the morning drag somewhat – it was a long time to wait before a discussion on further options was even possible. By noon, the conversation had been had and there was some hope for further progress. Dan meanwhile had been offered a lift into Harmanli by Matt, the international playboy, camping entrepreneur and generally sound bloke behind Sakar Hills Camping. This would make it easy to pick up a few items of food shopping (lunch in Istanbul had been the plan up until this point) and a couple of litres of oil to do a change on the DRZ – so at least the extra day here would be productive. Dan also changed the UK fiver still in his wallet into local currency, receiving 10 Lev and 75 Stotinki. A little bit of precision supermarket shopping (the usual overlander basics: bread, cheese, tomato, a frozen pizza and a jalapeno pepper) resulted in a bill for 10.77 – close enough.
With lunch eaten, oil changed, tent set back up and dinner of jalapeno-enhanced cheapo-pizza prepared and devoured too, it was time for another update from Biggs. The news was as good as it was surprising – a solution developed that day was looking very promising. This left a few prep items still to complete, maybe just possible in an evening but it would be a stretch. More likely then that Ed’d be able to leave the UK on Wednesday 4 May. This still put Dan in a position to leave Bulgaria behind the following day – with some sadness as the people he’d met had been great and the country had a really nice feel to it.
So, on Tuesday 3rd May, Dan had severe deja vu packing everything back up ready to depart the campsite again. At 8am, email was again checked just in case there’d been an emergency update from the UK in the night. No such misfortune, so by half past, it was time to head for the Turkish border.