The Black Sea (June 24th- 28th)

Just before arriving in Varna I came across a place called Pobiti Kamani – some form of rock formation park. I popped in sans payer to get a quick ganders…

Too bad I missed ‘The Stone Of The Divine Love.’ What a shame.

So it had been a pretty uneventful few days ride from Ruse. I met and English family in a road side café. They moved out to Bulgaria four years ago after having had enough of ol’ Blighty. Unfortunately it sounded like Bulgaria was not the dream move they had hoped for. Indeed their house had now been back on the market for two years and they were once again looking to relocate. I took on board all the advice they had to give (for example in Bulgaria nodding means no, and shaking your head means yes) and made my way to the Black Sea where I was looking forward to a swim.

Sod’s law – as soon as I arrived the weather took a turn for the worse and was all a bit grim. Swimming was off the cards. Tasty food and a bit of partying was on. Two large beers, a fat salad, grilled fish and potatoes set me back a fiver. Bargain. A particularly adventurous nuit blanche with a couple from Manchester Uni ate up much of the weekend. Varna wasn’t all that. There were a few bits n pieces happening, but otherwise it was your regular beach resort.

The real reason I was heading to Varna, or at the very least hanging around there, was to meet with a German fella. The German fella who I mentioned yonks ago who was heading to Tibet. I had every intention of emailing him but it turned out that he ended up bumping back into the German guy whom I gave my details (and who gave me his). When I was in Belgrade he dropped me an email and ever since then we have been coordinating a convergence which just so happened to take place in Varna.  And so it was the we met on the highstreet outside McDonalds on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Me, René (the German guy from Hamburg who hooked us up), and Matze from Dresden… my potential fellow touring companion for the forthcoming weeks and months. There was masses and masses to discuss and plan so I swithced hostels to where they were staying so we could start brainstorming.

We talked about how we had in fact passed each other multiple times along the Danube cycle path but never chatted for one reason or another. The first time I saw Matze was when I left Linz in the evening and was cycling with Flo the guy who invited me to his place. Because I only left a 6pm, I was feeling very fresh and so was putting down a good speed, especially seeing as I was with Flo who was on a racer. We passed two other cycle tourers and I remembered wanting to talk to them. They were travelling very slowly. That was in fact Matze and another German guy in his mid thirties who had quit his job, sold his house, and had been planning this trip for a year. When Matze met him and told him he was heading to Tibet, he said he was up for heading there with him too. They cycled together for 2 days, but Matze had to ditch him because he was travelling so slowly and Matze simply has to arrive in Tibet this year. The following day we passed each other many times and waved to say hello but either I was busy doing something (tinkering with bike/applying suncream), or he was busy doing something (eating lunch on the right down on the bank of the river and therefore not easy to speak to)… So it was a real pleasure to finally meet and catch up after several weeks of emailing.

Matze had written in a mail that he was considering getting a ferry to Batumi, Georgia or possibly trying to get a sailing boat there or to East Turkey. The ferry idea was less than romantic, but the idea of somehow procuring a sailing boat was hugely appealing. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, cheating in some capacity could prove to be a necessary move in order to arrive in India. I definitely fought the idea of getting a ferry across the Black Sea, but slowly came round to it when I realised that it was probably necessary  to sacrifice Turkey in order get up and over the mountains before the winter comes.

And so we thought about it for a while. Heading to Istanbul was also another possibility. The ferry, which was in fact a cargo ferry not a passenger ferry, would cost 140€ per person. The sailing idea seemed less and less likely the more we looked into it. It was Tuesday 28th and the ferry didn’t leave until Thursday. We decided to leave the hostel and cycle with René at least as far as the port where we could stay for a few days. René had to get to Istanbul in order to get a flight back to Hamburg. We got to the port and for one reason or another (I’m still not entirely sure why, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense), we decided to ditch the ferry idea and the 3 of us head to Istanbul. Perhaps it was that we didn’t wanna hang around in Varna any longer, and that we thought we would be able to travel to Eastern Turkey more cheaply by bus/train.

So the three of us set off together that afternoon, putting down some stupid speeds in order to feel like we got somewhere that day…

Moi, Matze, und René

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