**Welcome autumn, welcome rain**
On Thursday, 6th October, after 3.5 weeks home in Berlin with some hitchhiking trips, I returned to Bucharest. Until Monday when I left I went out with Sorin – to friends of his, bars and a concert.
On 10th October it was on again: I packed all my stuff, prepared the bicycle and at 2pm I headed towards Bulgaria. The border is close from Bucharest and I spent the night already on Bulgarian soil. But I was greeted by rainy weather; but it was not a big problem since I took all necessary clothings from Berlin.
I didn’t think that Bulgaria as a country would be in such contrast. Sure Romanian villages looked a bit poor but in Bulgaria even the towns did so. Of course the bad weather added a depressing mood but there were just too many abandoned and run-down buildings.
But this circumstance actually helped my on Monday. The whole day it was raining but fortunately every kilometre or so there was an empty building. In one of them I decided to stay for the night, but I had run out of water. So I went to the drip rail and refilled there and boiled it afterwards. In the evening I enjoyed House of Cards while I noticed a rat running around… But I was lucky, during the night I or my luggage was not visited by it or its friends again.
So I continued. The rain somehow stopped but its clouds were still hanging heavily on the sky ready to get rid of the water every minute. As in Romania most of the gas stations in Bulgaria have free Wifi so I was able to connect to the outside world every now and then – very important. Like that I cycled further past buildings that looked so bad from the outside and I had to find a place to stay. But I could find an appropriate building as previous night respectively the ground was covered with broken glass. On my map I saw a monastery just 8km away from my position that’s why I decided to try my luck there. It became dark already and the monastery was in the mountains. Fog approached and causing a spooky atmosphere I cycled higher and higher towards Sokolski Monastery. I lay hidden in the fog and no one answered to my calls and knocks. So what to do? It was already 8pm and I decided to just pitch my tent next to the entrance.
On Thursday I departed to Buzludzha. The weather finally was sunny – for the first time in since I’ve arrived to Bulgaria. Buzludzha had been on my list of places to visit while cycling since the beginning of my planning. It served as a kind of convention centre of the Bulgarian Communist Party and is located on top of a mountain. It looks like a concrete UFO but unfortunately it was not possible to get inside. Venturesome I climbed through a “window” but only to find out that I would need rubber boots to continue. At night when the fog appeared again the scenery looked even more surreal and haunting increased by birds that were still flying in and out.
Also on Friday morning I tried to find an entrance. But of course nothing had changed during night. The next days stayed sunny and initially I wanted to do couchsurfing to get a better insight in that interesting country. Because Bulgaria seems to be complex, the economical situation seems worse than in Romania and there are more mosques the more south you go. But it didn’t work out – well at least while getting Wifi from a supermarket I could have a small chat with a nice young Bulgarian guy. So on Monday I decided to go south to Greece. The weather turned worse again and so was my mood. I had considered that it would be a nice challenge to drive nonstop through the night to arrive in the morning on Thassos.
But it didn’t happen I just didn’t know it when I started late at 5pm into the darkness. At a crossroads one man scared me a lot. While I was searching my mobile phone to get a hint in which direction to cycle, from the bus stop laying completely in the dark, a man spoke to me. I gave him one of my last remaining Iranian cigarettes and he seemed satisfied. In Zlatograd the border town I was stopped by police at about half past 9pm. The town was empty and they just wanted to see my passport telling me I should not ride all night because there would be some very nice hot spring just a few kilometres from the border. At the crossing itself I chatted at least 30 minutes with the guards and the also recommended staying at these springs. In the end the Greek guard decided that a pickup-truck will take my bicycle and drive me there. So I accepted my fate and really enjoyed a bath in the warm crystal clear water in a small building with a dome where the moonlight shined through.
On Tuesday, 18.10, I agonised myself the last kilometres to Thassos. Especially the last ones on the island were hard. But having finally arrived in the afternoon I was deliriously glad that some relaxing days after 8 of the past 9 days I had been cycling.