Malko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) – Babaeski (Turkey)

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That was our last day in Bulgaria! We rode into Turkey today – our last country and language.

It rained overnight leaving us with wet helmets and gloves (but not a wet Brooks leather saddle because I always put the cover on – smugness of a Brooks saddle owner who hasn’t yet lost the cover). The rain had faded to drizzle by the time we got up. We bought breakfast at the only place open early on a Sunday (where we had dinner the night before) and it was OK once they worked out we wanted some bread (we would have preferred toast and something to spread on it – serves us right for not learning Bulgarian better). We also had a delicious omelet garnished with paprika, feta cheese and tomato.

And so off we rode up the hill, into the clouds and to the Border Crossing Control Point. There were about 100 people employed there this morning and they were achieving a throughput of about 2 cars/hour. Unlike the other BCCPs we’ve used there were separate Bulgarian & Turkish passport controls – suspicions run deep and long here. From the Turkish side, Bulgaria is called Bulgaristan. We briefly met Denis here, a French cyclist of mature years with a Bob trailer. We had spotted him in Malko Tarnovo the previous evening. He was feeling tired of leg.

Here we are in Turkey

We enjoyed almost deserted freeways in Turkey – smooth surface, no traffic, mainly downhill and a tailwind. Happy days!

We made it to Kırklareli (note the lack of a dot on the first i but dot on last one) for lunch but got none except for some fresh pretzel-styled bread bought from man carrying a carefully arranged stack on a wooden board. Things are looking up. We also joined the mass of worry-beaded men in the park drinking sweet black tea (cai) and then off to Babaeski after failed attempts to find a map.

We spied a ukulele-bearing, German hitchhiker – Armi – outside Babaeski. Rosalie had a jam with him (Let it be) that was interrupted by a possible lift and some local children.

We found a satisfactory hotel with a smarmy owner in Babaeski. Rosalie beat him down 20 lira but still says we paid too much. She’s going to offer 50% of the first price in future. Shades of the Life of Brian! One noteworthy feature of the hotel is a padded toilet seat – who wants that?

While officially secular, alcohol drinking seems to be an off-the-street affair confined to discreet, dark and dingy bars not very conducive to a late afternoon aperitif. 😦 Nevertheless Babaeski is a nice place – busy streets – commerce-oriented shop-keepers. They don’t bother you as you walk by unless you hesitate or show any sign of weakness and then they greet you in a friendly fashion and start extolling the virtues of their wares. It’s a lot better than the sulky staff we’ve had lately.

There are several mosques in town all equipped with high-power PA systems. I quite like the muezzin’s call to prayer when delivered acoustically but this is too pushy, unpleasant and unlikely to win over any converts. I didn’t see many locals dropping everything in response.

Small mosque in Babaeski

Off to the Marmara coast tomorrow. I think we have about 400 km left to ride.

Cycle route:
Malko Tarnovo – Babaeski

3 Responses to “Malko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) – Babaeski (Turkey)”

  1. Taff Says:

    what a wonderful trip… some of the photos look like when you were in the Grampians…. you haven’t changed!! looking forward to the instalments. love Taff

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