25.07.2007 -17 °C
Our first border hopping - across kapakule to bulgaria!! Arriving at Edirne at 8 in the morning, we were excited to go to kapakule and walk through our first border. At the minibus station, we asked the first minibus if they're going to kapakule and the conductor was like 'yes yes' so we jumped on the minibus happily, thinking of having a yummy breakfast in Bulgaria. Suddenly 15 minutes later, we were told to get off the bus, walk straight and turn right. So we did. We thought it was weird though, cuz lonely planet said it was a 30 minute ride. With our backpacks, hungry and excited we headed off through the busy streets to where the road turns right. We saw the sign to Kapukale and walked even faster. Following the sign after 20 minutes or so, we were still walking. We started having doubts about where exactly the border is. We have walked away from the city center and in front of us was a long road with only trees on the side, and a lone gas station to the right. We knew there was something wrong. This does not remotely look like a border! So we went into the gas station and asked how long it takes to Kapukale. 18 MORE KILOMETERS. Dammit!!!! We saw buses heading towards Kapukale and tried to flag them down but no bus would stop for us. In despair, hungry, hot and pissed off, a Turkish guy approached us and offered to drive us there. ahhhhh we love Turkey so much!! He was like an angel to us.
When we got to Kapukale, the border, there were trucks, cars, and more trucks. Apparently this was mostly a border for vehicles and we were the only 2 people on foot!! With lots of stares and whistlling we crossed our first border on foot. It was a looooong border. After forgetting to get an exit stamp from Turkey before going to Bulgaria, having to walk back to get an exit stamp, walking towards the Bulgarian border again we finally reached Bulgaria at 1 pm. Whewww!! Walking back and forth from the border seriously took at least 1.5 hours. The problem after going through the Bulgarian border is that the nearest town wasn't within walking distance. There were no public transport, just overpriced taxis looking to rip off tired and hungry tourists like us. We decided we had no choice but to be ripped off, and took a taxi to the nearest train station in Svelingrad, from where we took the train to Plovdiv.
Compared with Turkiye, Bulgaria is not a welcoming nation at all. When we finally got into Plovdiv, we asked the lady at the information desk what time is there a train to Sofia. She wrote down 7, 8, and 9. Is there only 3 trains? She shrugged. Then we asked what time is there a train to Veliko Tarnovo tomorrow. She just shrugged. WAT??? mary and i looked at each other in disbelief. She didnt even try to help at all!! What's the point of sitting behind a glass wall with the word 'information'??? We stayed for a night in Plovdiv in a guesthouse (the granny livng there was really nice, however we knew no bulgarian or german) and the next day, we went our seperate ways and it was finally the time for me to travel alone.
In Bulgaria, the next stop I went - Veliko Tarnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria. It still has traces of the Ottoman era, despite a layer of pink paint instead of the traditional white. (Quite ugly to be honest! i think). Luckily for all of us at the Hostel Mostel, there was a folk festival happening there that weekend. Everyone performng at the festival came to see the light show at the castle that night. The Castle, which usually has a light show if 30 people pay (and everyone else just watches for free), only has sounds for people living in the hotel who actually pays for the show. Luckily for us, Bulgaria had to impress the foreigners, so we watched a free light show with surround sound as well! After two days relaxing in the beautiful city of Veliko Tarnovo, I took a bus to Sofia.
After getting a bus to Sofia, I decided to cab to the hotel where i wanted to stay at, for it was the hottest day ever and I was afraid of UV rays and heatstroke. The cab driver seemed to understand english and seemed to know where I wanted to go. I thought everything will be allrite until he dropped me off at this expensive looking hotel. What the... I can't afford this place! Without any success looking at the Sofia map in lonely planet, I tried walking around on my own looking for a hostel. After circling the same streets twice, a very nice Bulgarian girl and a Brazilian guy came to me and asked if I needed help. YES!! Therefore, I met Valter, Luana, Desse and Irena. They took me to a hostel, and I had a great time walking around Sofia with my new friends.