We nipped into Greece for Paul’s birthday and spent four days in the lovely town of Alexandroupoli surrounded by the sea and olive trees.
After Alexandroupoli we biked up a mountain and into Bulgaria where the scenery changed drastically.
We spent some time in Plovdiv which has amphitheatres from the second century!
On our way to Sofia we found a lovely spot to camp. We finished dinner and were about to have wine and chocolate when it started to absolutley pour. We set up the tent and took the chocolate and wine (obviously) when suddenly there was a flash of lightening and a bang of thunder so we scrambled to get out of the tent. There was no shelter except for the tiniest picnic table in the world, so I wedged myself under it while Paul just crouched low a short distance away. Thankfully we were nestled in a little gulley and not on the ridge above us where the lightening was striking! I know you’re all wondering about the wine and chocolate, but no need to worry. Without realizing, I kept the wine safe by taking it everywhere with me during the storm!
There’s a trickling waterfall in the background which you probably can’t see, but with all the rain it pretty much turned into Niagara Falls! It was terrifying and I sat, squished under the two-planked picnic table hoping we wouldn’t get struck by lightening.
We spent a couple of days in Sofia where we slept in the basement apartment of a bike shop. The door for the basement was a flap on the floor of the main floor and in the middle of the night I woke up to the lights switching on and the door/ceiling closing! It turned out to be one of the bike shop owners, but not wanting to be trapped in the basement, I stood upstairs awkwardly while he got what he needed from the shop and then spent the rest of the night waking up to every little sound, afraid of being held captive in a basement. Sofia is a nice little city though and the guys at the bike shop were really great and not trying to kidnap us!
Remember Paul’s tire which was sewn up with dental floss? He managed another 1800 km on it before having to get a new one! Below is how it looked (with new repairs using a plastic bottle and K-tape) as we JUST made it to Sofia.
Next was Serbia. I didn’t really have any expectations but the towns were really lovely with pedestrian-only town centres where everyone gathered every evening to eat and drink.
It was also supposedly the start of the Eurovelo cycling routes. Europe has a huge network of cycle paths which can take you to most corners of the continent…or so we thought. Serbia proved you can put up a sign, but it doesn’t have to be for any particular reason. We followed some Eurovelo signs but were still on busy roads with no shoulder or on something which was probably a road at one time. The cycle route into Belgrade was the only way allowed by bicycle and it was an overgrown grass path with mud!
Belgrade had a bicycle elevator onto a bridge though!
And there are sunflower fields everywhere!
Next was Hungary and the actual start of the Eurovelo paths. It’s so nice to be separated from the traffic now. We had some nice camping and spent some time in Budapest. (Neither of these are Budapest. Those pictures are on my camera.)
We spent less than 24 hours in Slovakia before heading to Austria.