…Blog Off #5…
18th September 2018
Our next stop was close by to the ski resort of Bansko.
The campsite I had chosen was located close to the summit of Mount Vihren….probably about 1,900 metres high!
We set off at around ten o’clock on the main road heading to Sofia. The drive was relatively short, but the landscape and scenery were beautiful…The valleys cliffs were high, and a fast flowing river ran alongside the road.
Bearing in mind this is one of the main roads heading from Southern Bulgaria/Greece to Bulgarias capital, Sofia, the road is single lane.
We have have spotted glimpses of a large motorway system being built.
As we neared our destination, we stopped for lunch.
After seeing the menu had black pudding, I jumped at the chance of having one, but when it came out, I was slightly disappointed that the black pudding was actually a sausage….come on Bulgaria, get with the Lancashire times!
Getting back on the road we drove through the skiing town of Bansko, stopping again for supplies, and set off once again…this time, upwards.
As the road gradually climbed, we had brilliant views over the Pirin mountain range. It was as we neared the top, the road started to disintegrate, parts of the barrier were gone, and mother began her usual session of screaming about how high it is, the sheer drops, and the fact you’d never get here skiing/climbing here….all of this, coming from a former guide of Ben Nevis.
As we stopped for the final time, we pitched camp. The supposed campsite was situated by a small restaurant, in a valley between two mountains. Bearing in mind the place is advertised on the internet, it seemed more like wild camping, because, as night drew in, there was nobody else around…
That night, Geoff barbecued his chicken, and we dined at the wonky wooden table, that sat beside our tents.
This is the highest we’ve been in a while, and bearing in mind it’s September, were not sure how hot/cold, wet/dry it’s going to be.
19th September 2018
Or, at least for mum and Geoff. I on the other hand, was adequately Warmed in my thick winter sleeping bag. I heard mutterings from them saying about how cold they were and the fact they’ll get frostbite during the night, but as dawn broke, -(the sun didn’t come out until 10 o’clock because of the high mountains)-we all awoke unfrostbitten. They want to go to Bansko Old Town later, to get themselves a blanket…frankly, I believe there just being a bit overreactive. I’m surprised Geoff was even cold, bearing in mind he’s climbed Mount Everest 43 times
We packed our things into the car, leaving the tents to dry, and we drove further up the mountain pass. From the top, there was a pretty view of the valley going down between the mountains. We had planned on walking to a nearby lake, which was supposedly just over the hill, but we decided not to, since we didn’t have the right climbing/hiking gear with us at the time.
Back down at the tent, we quickly dismantled them, had an omelette, and set off down to Bansko old town, in search for the elusive moose skin blanket, which 43 time Mnt Everest climber Geoff so desperately needed.
The pretty alpine like town was a place you wouldn’t expect in Bulgaria. It was in fact, more of place you’d find in Switzerland or Austria, the only clues telling you it were not those countries, were the writing and the flags.
We were thinking that all hope was lost, but Upon finding a blanket, mum and Geoff ecstatically bought it and announced how excited they were to sleep in the snow, now!. Triumphantly, Geoffrey paraded around the new blanket like a weapon.
After a quick stop for lunch, we got back in the car and carried on driving. Our next stop was somewhere near the Seven Rila Lakes, in the Rila national park.
Our accommodation in that area wasn’t what we were expecting, so, we turned around and headed back the way we had just come.
Our destination now was up besides Rila Monastery, a beautiful and secluded place which you can read about here. We may visit it again whilst we are here.
We eventually arrived at Camping Bor, a campsite sitting right beside a fast flowing river, upstream from the World Heritage Site of Rila Monastery. After a scramble to put the tents up before the sun set, we sat down in the tent, playing cards…
20th September 2018
As we have now bore witness to just how badly the Bulgarians drive, it reminded me of an old blog and I’ve realised it needs updating…enjoy:
NOTES ON EUROPEAN DRIVING STYLES
TENERIFE driving styles.
First thing to remember, when on a motorway, if you want to turn off on a slip road, it’s essential to overtake the car infront first then cut across three lanes infront of the car, as close as possible and then join the slip road.
Note the lack of horn blowing at this dangerous manoeuvre, as it is common practise.
When approaching pedestrian crossings do not be too close behind a Canarian car.
IT WILL STOP!
This is the exact opposite of what you might be used to ( especially if, as we do, you live in Turkey where pedestrians are used as cannon fodder.
There are give way lines half way round roundabouts, which mean you give way half way round a roundabout and on slip roads (!!) onto the motorway: ( there is only one motorway! )
After you turn off in a slip road, there will be a pedestrian crossing, and Canarian cars WILL stop ( see notes above!)
The Tenerifians won’t build a slip road off in a straight line if they CAN put a hairpin bend into it, they will, and coach drivers in Tenerife will get a bus around these bends in one go. Quite awesome to watch.
SPANISH driving styles.
The Spanish appear to have beaten Google with the development of driverless cars, the Spanish smoke, windows are closed and no occupants can be seen inside.
Spanish cars do not come with indicators.
But they doo make a mean paella!
FRENCH driving styles.
The French have mastered the art of ” hands free ” driving. They are visible in the car as often the windows are down, so the Frenchman or women can clearly be seen smoking with one hand, whilst holding the mobile phone between ear and shoulder and gesticulating wildly with the other hand, ( and on occasion with the hand also holding the gauloise ) thus obviously steering with ones knees. This is important because two handed gesticulation is an essential part of French conversation and breeding.
ITALIAN driving styles.
The Italians crash!
Wherever you go in Italy the Italian cars will have at least 50 dents, each!
Italian drivers do not respect traffic police, they speed past them, hoot and shake their fists, even when the police car is travelling at the maximum legal speed.
GERMAN driving styles.
German drivers follow the rules and take instruction. If, for example you we re in a building and want to go to the next floor, if you say to a German “take the stairs” they will dismantle them.
Similarly if a German is on the road infront of you, he WILL be driving at the legal limit, no more, no less.
He WILL indicate both out and in as he overtakes or changes lanes.
He WILL wear his seatbelt at all appropriate times.
He WILL hold the steering wheel in the correct position with hands at “ten to two”.
German drivers are boring, they lack style, verve and panache – a bit like a Hungarian goulash, without chorizo in it – These drivers need a dash of the Italians ” va va voom “.
SWISS driving styles.
The Swiss drivers, like their Italian cousins, like to crash. Especially when there is no skiing or equally no tunnel building to be done. One could say it’s a relatively favourite pastime, after fondues.
The Swiss like to look sophisticated and to look at their mountains, as they drive. The government found the best way was to hide the mountains, so they built tunnels through them in order to prevent their kins folk staring at them as they drove. This was an attempt to curtail the number of crashes the locals were having whilst staring at their mountains. It didn’t work. Unfortunately the tunnels are comparatively no go areas, as they are invariably blocked by crashes.
TURKISH driving style:
Like I said previously, the Turks do not think that they should stop at a pedestrian crossing. Instead, they believe in the “Size Matters” rule. For instance-
A pedestrian gives way to everything
A cyclist gives way to everything besides pedestrians
A moped gives way to everything besides cyclists and pedestrians
A car gives way to everything besides mopeds, cyclist and pedestrians
This continues until you have either a tank, or an HGV, which dominate the roads
The Turks, like the French, have also mastered the smoking and texting whilst driving technique.
GREEK driving style:
The Greeks seem the most sensible in the area. They are not crazy drivers like the Turkish or Bulgarians, but they do have their moments. With a crepe clenched in one fist and a cigarette between their teeth they will wave and honk at everyone they pass and frequently stop in the middle of the road, blocking the traffic, to have a chat with Stavros or Stavroula.
BULGARIAN driving style:
The Bulgarians drive in a very similar style to their Turkish counterparts…( but don’t tell them that, or that their language sounds a bit similar, don’t tell them that either! ) similar to the Turkish, but a little more crazy! Overtaking a car at 60 mph around a hairpin bend whilst going up a hill…is one of the many things that Bulgarian drivers excell at.
Another strange and worrying thing you see in Bulgarian villages is when the men are driving whilst making a phone call they are often giving a driving lesson to their small ( average age about 6 or 7 I’ ld say ) child who will be sitting on his fathers lap…steering the dilapidated car wearing a wide toothless smile.
They actually do obey the narrow bridge priority rule, it’s quite interesting bearing in mind they don’t follow any of the others at all.
Actually, saying that, they do follow the headlights rule too. Apparently, all cars/trucks have to have their headlights on at all times…and if you don’t, you get fined.
UK driving style:
For those who do not come from the United Kingdom, the first thing you need to recognise is that we drive on the correct side of the road, which is the right side.-(there’s enough posters of this at Heathrow airport, since the Americans cannot understand that they drive on the wrong side)- To add on, we also use the correct speed measurement…Miles per hour, not this stupid kilometres PH, which is purely for Europeans .
You also need to understand that we the British are probably the best drivers around. We are not dull like the Germans, incapable like the Americans, flamboyant like the Italians, eccentric ( some may call crazy) like the Turks, or “hands free” like the French…no, we are a race apart, sensible, yet fast, since everyone knows that on a UK motorway, where the speedlimit is 70 miles per hour, you need to drive at least 85…
This list is completely unbiased.
Later that day, we walked with the dogs through the woods. We crossed a bridge too…and mum accidentally knocked Vodka the 2.5 kilo dog off the 15 foot bridge…she seems fine, but we’ll see.