Country no. 12

Bulgaria. No, this country was not on our radar, and certainly not in winter. How it came about can be read in this next short blog.


After Athens, we wanted to leave Greece as soon as possible. The country is beautiful, but we had been there for 2 months and were eager for a new country, but which one? Israel has closed its borders again, winter is slowly approaching and it is getting colder, even here in the south. We have been thinking about how we want to spend the winter months for a while now. Our motto is to travel less quickly and stay longer in one place. No sooner said than done. Gorna Oryahovitsa is the town where we will stay for a whole month. But before we enter Bulgaria, we have one last stop in Greece. Thessaloniki is on the route anyway and should be worth a visit.

So we enjoy Greece for the last time and Thessaloniki suits us quite well. Again a very lively city, where modernity and antiquity meet and for once we have to do a PCR test. This is necessary for entry into Bulgaria. The test is negative, so let's go. After 2 days in the city we are on the bus heading for Sofia. We chose the least badly rated bus company. The comments were negative, but we experience a carefree bus ride and the border crossing also goes smoothly.

Hello Bulgaria. We are really looking forward to a new country. Our knowledge about it is small, we have some ideas and the gloomy autumn weather somehow matches these images in our heads. Despite the grey weather, the landscape gives an idea of the beauty this country has to offer, which, by the way, is also called "the Switzerland of the Balkans". And another interesting fact, which may not be known to all readers: Bulgaria is the country in Europe with the second most hot springs, after Iceland of course.

We spend the first few days in the capital Sofia. The green trams immediately catch our eye. We know them. They are decommissioned models from Basel that are now doing their job in Sofia. In addition to the trams, the solid buildings of the socialist era are unmistakable. Imposing buildings, bursting with pride and stability, dominant monuments and prefabricated buildings are common. We are interested in the history of the country and so, in addition to the classic walking tour, we also visit one on the subject of communism. For example, we see the famous Monument of the Russian Warriors, which has already been spray-painted several times for political purposes, much to the displeasure of the Russians. The paintings always had to be cleaned up very quickly for the sake of peace. Some of you may remember the picture in the media. We also learn that the Cyrillic script was not invented in Russia, as many might think, but in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians are mighty proud of that. Modernity has long since arrived in Sofia, so we find good coffee and treat ourselves to a visit to the cinema with a huge portion of popcorn (you have to take advantage of the prices...).

On Sunday we have the opportunity to visit a local church, which was arranged for us through contacts from home. There we meet a couple who work among Romas in Bulgaria and over lunch we learn more about this population group, which does not have a good reputation in society.

So we started in Bulgaria and are very curious to see what awaits us in this country. But one thing is clear: Greece was probably the last country where coffee to our taste can be found on every corner.

But how did we end up here in the first place? We looked around for an interesting project where we could help out for a month at short notice and found what we were looking for in Bulgaria. But more about that in the next blog.