Kardzali, Bulgaria

Turkey to Bulgaria by Bus

Forrest Mallard

April 21 2016 Kardzali, Bulgaria

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I arrived two hours early at the bus station in a suburb far outside of the Istanbul city center for my trip to Bulgaria. Yes, a bit anxious and eager.

The bus left at 10 pm and I expected to arrive at my destination at around 7 am the next morning, but I arrived around 3:15 am, in the middle of nowhere. No local currency and no taxis to be found anywhere.

I walked to a nearby gas station and asked the attendant:
“Meat-sa Hotel?”
“Ehh?”
“Hotel Meat-sa???”
“Oh, Hotel Mee-ah-tsah”
(That actually sounds so much nicer! Much less like a delicatessen.)
“Yes, where?”
“2km” and he pointed the way into the darkness.

I realized I still was not ready for this much adventure, maybe tomorrow, after coffee.

I didn’t think I could get a cab, because I didn’t have any local money. But later realized I’m an idiot because I could have just gone to any bank machine like probably at the gas station I was just at. I was tired though, and a bit delirious and just wanted to find a bed. I walked to the nearby Hotel Kardjali to ask if they had any cheap rooms for the night.

The lady at the desk said the “hotel full” (I think that is what she said) but strangely never saw or heard anyone else in the hotel. When I got to my floor, the light in the hallway was flickering quite dramatically. Seriously, from pitch black to blinding light and back again, sporadically.
Before I went to bed, I grabbed my camera and filmed some horror clips in the hallway. The production value of the flickering light and the stark 70’s communist architecture of the hotel was too good to pass up.

This morning around 11 am I was up and walking, trying to find ‘Meatsa Hotel.’
Now that I knew how to pronounce it correctly, it was easy to get people to point the direction.

I was warned before I came here that the people of Bulgaria might not be ready for me.
They are pretty mellow and quiet, not very expressive.
I’m guessing that they don’t get a lot of tourists in this village due to the fact that they just kind of stared at me as I walked through, on my way.
If they stared too hard they got a huge smile, a zesty nod of my head and a big ‘HELLO!’ from me.
I would stare back until they reluctantly, after a few long seconds, give the only slightest of nods back. They did this only begrudgingly.

I found my hotel, a huge step up from where I was last night and actually only half the price.
Every room is a different theme. I’m in India, which is only named such because there is a massive image of the Taj Mahal wallpapering one whole side of the room.

Now, the reason I picked this tiny village to start my journey:

1) The area is jam-packed with stone, bronze and copper age cities and dwellings that date back 8000 years.
2) The area is completely surrounded by bizarre rock formations, many of which have fantastic legends of how they were formed.
3) There is a medieval bridge nearby (I love medieval bridges) that is supposed to be haunted, and many locals are afraid to cross it. So, of course, I need to see it and challenge the ghosts.
4) This is the first village with anything to see after crossing the border from Turkey.

FOR ME TO START MY ADVENTURE –
ONLY ONE MORE PROBLEM REMAINS

I kind of enjoying the resting part of this trip.
I need my Camino Moms from last year Sveta, Cindy. And of course, I need Jomayra singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” every morning, through May and June, to get us all up and going.

Right now, I’m in love with my bed, and sadly, that affair has to end tomorrow morning, early.

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