#SubaruOfftrax Week Three Highlights
The Romanian-Bulgarian border is like driving through a war zone, minus the violence; derelict buildings, zero signage, BUT a bridge tax, I suppose it for fixing it???
Now with our trusty newly purchased GPS, we headed off the beaten
trax to Buludzha, an abandoned USSR building in the hills of central Bulgaria. There is NO WAY we would have found this place 200km out of our way without GPS coordinates. Finally seeing what we have read about was more than words can describe…. As we had read we had to ‘break in’ to the crumbling building, but once on the main floor in the centre it was STUNNING! Mosaic murals encircled us as the hammer & sickle looked down on us.Out on the balcony the wind was fierce, and the view of the surrounding forests neier-ending. WOW! This is most definitely best kept secret out of guidebooks.
Meeting the others in Nessebar, Bulgaria we spent a few chill days on the beach, getting a taste of the Black Sea. As Corinne paraded around the pool and beach in her Shark Suit ringing in Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’, I made the mistake of trusting Elly with a pair of scissors and my hair.u
After sleeping indoors, Corinne and I were itching to get back out in our tent and with Greece a short detour from Turkey it was a no brainer….till GPS steered us by way of the Turkish border! Upon entering our first concern was if our Turkish visa was just single entry-thankfully not, so we continued onto and into Greece. Immediately after crossing borders we noticed the change-gas stations, even large multinationals were boarded up and small towns were abandoned. Continuing on, we felt for awhile that something crazy must have happened, like the plague or something, as there was no signs of life. It was like life had stopped all the sudden. Arriving in Alexandropoulous on the Aegean Sea life started to pick up, but not by much. We found great camping on the beach and were back into ‘tent life. As expected there were little options for food, but one lone tavern on the main road. Turns out this was not only the lone option, but the best option. Spartakus, the owner of said place simply asked what we like to eat and he would take care of it. No menu, no prices, just trust him. The array of local delicacies was non stop, as was the local plum brandy. He taught us how to drink it, with a sniff of a pickle, a sip of the goods, then another sniff of the pickle and a wee bite, over and over again. The more he drank, the less he could speak English, so we started making friends with others, all of whom were police, except one, Gregory who was a Subaru- Super Fan. Through hand gestures Corinne was led to his apt upstairs were he showed off all his Subaru garb proudly, then his car. Upon seeing our car, he wanted to know everything about it, have his photo taken, etc etc. During our conversations with the police dudes we learned how the poor economy had affected each one individually and how most small towns have been dying off and that people couldn’t afford to drive.This explains it….
Onto to Istanbul, which we had thankfully visited earlier in the year, so sites like the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia and the bazaars we could skip. Instead we could focus on what we missed last time, like chocolate pudding from a century old confectionary shop and lamachun, our favourite turkish food. The OfftraxOutback gang introduced us to Salih, their hotel manager, who took us us late that night for shisha, drinks and fun. What a character!
Having been to Cappadoccia before we opted to drive the Black Coast for the next few days leaving OutbackOfftrax to experience the magical land. The drive to Amarsra was lengthy, but as suggested, well worth it, being right on the sea. the following day we drove perhaps 2hrs and spent the day on the pebble beach in Cide, staying at an elderly couple’s home. Here we met a couple from by way of Spain doing the same route. For the next few days, we would meet them up, having the same guide book and agenda. Beers, beach, sun and surf=perfection. With the same intentions, the following day we drove about 5hrs to Sinop, where we found the prettiest campsite to date, right on the beach, with minimal guests. So good to be back in the tent and have the space and time to play badminton in-between swimming.
The next beach town we camped at was in Uyne-not as picturesque as Cide or Sinop, but decent nonetheless. We camped overlooking the beach, but with pest mosquitos at night we decided to hang out on the main road, curb side watching time pass.
The following day, not sure if we were gonna meet the others and push on to the Georgian border, we started slowly driving coastal as much as possible. Randomly, we met British, lone cyclist, Jess at Jason’s Cape. We thought we were kinda crazy, she’s just completely nuts: cycling from London to Singapore!! Solo too! Follow her insane journey at www.full-cycle.org.uk
We got our last bite of lamachun in Trabzon and raced to the border to meet the gang. Hooking up in line, we shared stories as we killed 3-4hrs in a slow moving line. During this time, we watched the sunset on the Black Sea amongst fist fights and A LOT of screaming between cars and buses for those attempting to jump the queue. Over on the Georgian side we celebrated with delicious Georgian beer alongside the locals. Convoying to our guest house at night was challenging, as we had lost our bearings, but in the end it all worked out just fine as we got a house in the hills overlooking Batumi and our first taste of Georgian wine.
Best of the week: Buludza, Corinne scaring kids on the beach for #SharkWeek, Spartakus and all the people we met that night at his restaurant, Istanbul, one of the most unique cities we’ve ever been to and camping outside of Sinop.