Friday, 23 December 2011

Leaving Bulgaria- Take 1

We left Bansko with no regrets despite the snow being on great form- our unfit bodies were quite content with the prospect of a day sitting in the car! The snowy landscape we passed through was beutiful and posed no problem for our chunky tires and four wheel drive. We stopped later in a smal town for a few things- most importantly of which was to print oiut our car insurance doccuments that Alex had downloaded from his email- It turns out all EU countries were covered, including Bulgaria so we wanted to have a copy with us- although Serbia, our destination isn't actually EU. No luck on the printer, (the librairy was out of toner) and even the young people in the hip bar where we had juice and cake couldn't think of anywhere else in such a small town. We bought a few groceries and headed on to the border.

As usual, the country we were leaving was fine but, as expected,the Serbian side required us to have Green Card driving insurance. The official Green Card booth wanted 115 Euros for a full month's insurance despite the fact we only planned to be there for three days- I almost wished this was a more bribable country like Bulgaria!.We decided this was too much and turned to go back to Bulgaria and head for Romania instead- the surprised Serbian passport guard was very helpful, diverting us to the top of the queue to re enter Bulgaria, thankfully without any shinanigans about insurance there. As we pased through, the Bulgarian guard asked conversationally, "Where are you going?", "Romania" answerd Alex and it wasn't until later that I realised how dismissive of his country that had probably sounded!

Our destination took us up into the northern mountains- the approach side had very little snow and the sunlight fell attractively between the trees. As soon as we had got to the pass however the lying snow began- it sat thickly all down the north facing side. It was very beautiful but the road was very slow and twisty, made even slower by a coating of compressed snow. The sun began to go down and when we road straightened out and we entered the town of Berkovista and saw a hotel, suddenly the idea of free camping seemed a lot less desirable. That had been the plan because we had carefully spent all of our currency before the Serbian border. When we found a bank as well we went strsight back to the hotel! Despite the remote location, it was a very nice hotel and the on suite room we were offered was huge and just above what we'd like to pay. We asked, (through an English speaking relative of theirs that was about) whether there was a smaller, cheaper room and she willing knocked some money off so we took it. I realised here that we have developed a subconcious maximum hotel price of £30 withough actually discussing it!

We parked the car properly, (still laiden with much more snow on it's roof than the less snowy streets it now sat in), went to the bank and brought our things in. We made use of the free internet then headed over to the resturant/cafe/bar that they reccomended. Again, the food was excellent and, including drinks was only £8 between us- better and better prices! We then headed back to the bar in our hotel and had a nice evening playing Stratego. I also tried one of the local clear spirits but only confirmed to myself that I didn't want a bottle, no matter how cheap it was!

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