Arriving in Bulgaria

Arriving in Bulgaria

After six weeks in Turkey I was starting to put a Turkish vocabulary together. Shamefully, the last time I was in the country I had only picked up three words. I had ‘thankyou’ plus two others – which I learned whilst searching for sailboat parts in Tuzla’s marine supply shops – which meant ‘yeah mate I’ve got some out the back’ and ‘nah mate can’t help ya’ respectively. But after meeting a friend on my latest visit who is a Turkish teacher my vocab really started to take off. I had ‘good morning’, ‘how are you’, ‘I’m well thanks’, and even a great phrase that loosely translates as ‘I hope your work day isn’t too much of a bastard’.

However all my hard won Turkish words came to nought when I jumped on the bus for the five hour trip to Bulgaria; it was Bulgarian all the way. Ataturk introduced the Latin alphabet to Turkey, so you can have a stab at pronouncing a written Turkish word and still have some chance of being understood. However the Bulgarians use the Cyrillic Script, so unless you speak Bulgarian, Russian or Serbian you’ve got Buckley’s*. (Interestingly, it’s called the Cyrillic Script because some bloke called Cyril created it in the 9th century. No, that’s fair dinkum**. His brother Methodius was involved too, so I don’t know why he doesn’t feature in the name. It could have been the ‘Cyri-Metho Script’, or, dare I say, the ‘Cyril Method’? You have to admit that’s catchy).

There were only six of us on the big ol’ Mercedes bus to Bulgaria, and about an hour after leaving Kirklareli we were at the Turkey/Bulgaria border. Understanding none of the directions we were given, I followed everyone off the bus at the checkpoint and hoped that no-one would ask me any questions. They didn’t, and I after having my photo taken I received an exit stamp from Turkey. On a little further and we were at the Bulgarian entry point, where we filed off the bus again and headed for the concrete customs office, passports in hand.

Arriving in Bulgaria
View from inside the bus of the line up of cars at the Bulgarian border crossing. You know those times when you look back at your photos and wished you’d taken some better ones? This is one of those times

Thankfully the customs officer spoke a little English, and asked me where I was going, the name of the hotel I was staying in, and my onward travel plans. As I’m generally not sure what I am doing more than a few days in advance I just made some stuff up which seemed to satisfy him. With a ‘thump’ my passport was stamped.

Next was a queue outside a small office where health workers inspected our Covid-19 test result/vaccination credentials. Then our driver ushered us over to some steel tables next to the bus, upon which my travelling compadres heaved their luggage in preparation for inspection. By the time I arrived the customs officer had lost interest and walked off, so thankfully that saved me the hassle of unpacking and repacking my gear. Back on the bus we clambered, and after driving through a disinfectant bath, and having the bus inspected by the cops, we were off into Bulgaria.

The country seems to have retained a lot of forest, both in the mountainous area by the border with Turkey, and also as patches amongst the cropping and grazing land we passed heading north. My first impressions were that regional Bulgaria is a beautiful place.

Toilet sign Varna bus station
Sign at the bus station in Varna. I’m certainly not in a Muslim country anymore

We arrived in Varna on the Black Sea coast in the late afternoon; stop one of my tour of Bulgaria. After a few hiccups and a bit of a walk I made it to my hotel room. It’s amazing how tiring sitting on your backside all day can be, so I turned in early, but was looking forward to getting out and about and exploring the city.

And I figured I’d have to start learning some Bulgarian.

*for our non-Australian readers, ‘Buckley’s’ is short for ‘Buckley’s chance/hope’, which means you have little or no chance of whatever you are hoping for coming to pass. The term comes from the name of an escaped convict, William Buckley, who went bush in 1803 and was given up for lost. Ironically, Buckley ended up doing rather well, living for over 30 years with local Wathaurang Aboriginal people.


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2 thoughts on “Arriving in Bulgaria

  1. Looking forward to hearing about Bulgaria; you have a great talent for bringing us along with you on the journey.Wonder what the national dish is? Probably no Macca,s

    1. Hello Faye, thankyou and of course you are very welcome to come along on my travels! I must admit I looked up the national dish, and was surprised to find it was a salad. Sadly Macca’s is here along with the other usual suspects

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