14 septembrie 2011

From Corfu to Wien: Eastern Europe by car. 2nd part: Bulgaria

Well, I have no intention to give very many details on how to drive from Corfu Island to Vienna, crossing Northern Greece from West to East, Bulgaria from South to North, Romania from South to West, and Hungary from East to West. However, I feel that it might be interesting to underline some peculiar features of driving this way, which shows common Eastern features, and might be useful particularly for Western European travelers. Also, Greek, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Hungarians may see what they have in common and what makes the little, but important differences. In the end of the series, I will underline a couple of nice Eastern futures, which provide to be better off than in the West.

Please note that the following include only my personal, non-systematic observations, and should be treated as such, not as a scientific truth. At their best, the beneath comments are an “educated guess”. (Remember that I am a sociologist :)!)

Part 2. Bulgaria

If you got out of Greece, the toilet nightmare gets to an end. Look for gas stations which are part of international chains: Shell, Rompetrol, OMV. Do not risk your pee safety in other gas stations, otherwise you will continue to experience the Greek style again.

On the other hand, if the partially built highway which connects Thessaloniki to Bulgaria disappointed you, you are in a very bad situation: in Bulgaria, the road crosses very many villages and towns until it finally transforms in a short highway. The 50 kilometer per hour limit is present in every single village, but also sometimes on the national road, and even on highways. It looks like the speed limit is not design to protect traffic and people, but to put money in the policeman pocket. Therefore, you should have been prepared: put a 10 Euro bill, or better a twenty inside your passport. It will be useful to clean your good driver name when the policeman will unexpectedly stopped you. Remember this strategy in Hungary, too. It will prove very useful in similar situations.

However, there is a long way to go until Hungary. You are still in Bulgaria, the peeing man is everywhere, the more Northern you go, the more prostitutes you find exposing themselves along the road. The landscape is greener, the villages - a little more frequent than in Greece. Around Sofia, on the highway, there are interesting tunnels, very dark, and not particularly well lightened, probably built many years ago. Use a GPS, otherwise you have all chances to get lost when trying to find the way around Sofia.

When driving, no matter if national road or highway, you may also notice that there is easy to say where the speed limitation starts, but often it is impossible to understand when it ends. This also happens in Greece, but Bulgaria is the headmaster in this kind of guessing sport. I have no tip to share, other than listen to your instincts!

Pagoda Palace in Zlatna Panega
There are several thinks to see along the way. If you are Western, I would suggest to miss not Melnik, and the nearby monastery, for a jump back with hundred years in the past (it is true that I have visited the place some 15 year ago, but I doubt that it changed much). If looking for bizarre houses, do not miss the one in Zlatna Panega, probably a gypsy palace, with a pagoda at the entrance, and some golden signs on the iron fence (unfortunately the picture that we took shows only very few of the grotesque kitsch of the "dwelling").

The Bulgarians have their own peculiar road sign, which I do not remember seeing anywhere else. My guess is that that black point in the red triangle is a warning that a hole in the road will follow. So, drive carefully, there are very many such signs!

When driving Northern, the landscape becomes arid again, even if not as dry as in the Greece. The highway ends, and the road gets through villages and small towns. However, most of the time, it goes not through the locality center. It is just a warm up for the very demanding driving that you will have to face in Romania!

The absence of highways is somehow logical: the traffic is not heavy at all, and many times you are alone on the road. When crossing localities, you still may have the rare opportunity admire trucks and police cars built in the 1960s Soviet Union, and still working. They are not as many as a few years ago, but are still present in the Northern Bulgaria. Horse-powered carts are also quite frequent, and represent a good opportunity to teach your kids a practical history lesson. However, if you missed the chance, do not worry, you have plenty of them after crossing Danube, in Romania. They drive along the way with SUVs, Mercedes and BMW cars, symbols for the nouveau riches status and barely legal activities. 

Previous post in the series: Greece. Next one: Crossing Danube.
The whole series (6 posts) is available here.

2 comentarii:

Anonim spunea...


mda. ai dreptate. chiar spuneai prostii

Bogdan Voicu spunea...

Iată o informaţie utilă: deci punct negru în triunghi cu margine roşie înseamnă "aici au avut loc multe accidente". Bine de ştiut.

According to the above link, black point in a tringle warns about frequent accidents in that area.

@Anonimul cu comentariul: mulţam de comentariu! Nu am înţeles însă de ce ai nevoie să laşi un comentariu injurios?? Poate tu, care cel puţin aparent vii de pe un calculator din Bucureşti, cu IP-ul ( înregistrat la Bitdefender Srl, ai informaţii suplimentare pe care vrei să le împărtăşeşti?

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BTW, acasă ai cumva Internet de la RCS/RDS, IP-ul fiind

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