Bucharest can be a challenging city – along with most of Romania it appears not to pander to tourists… or in fact to provide any information unless absolutely necessary! We had three nights in Bucharest, and many people found one day in the city to be enough as it gave them enough time to visit the Peasant Museum (mixed reviews) and the Palace of the People (recommended by everyone who went). We all met up at one of the city’s oldest and most beautifully decorated restaurants for a meal, accompanied by traditional Romanian music downstairs, and later some flamenco-style dancing upstairs which gave Maggs, Nick, Ned (the gnome) and a couple of others the chance to show off their dancing skills!
It was a fairly quiet day for many of the group the next day, with most people choosing to enjoy the sunshine which has been following us across Europe (long may it continue!), catch up on some washing, read, sort out photos, and in the case of some of the lads, help to wash Calypso (which of course ended up in the inevitable water fight).
It was then time to leave another country and head to Bulgaria. A couple of days into the expedition we had received an email from a new campsite near the village of Veliko Tarnovo. Pete had been to the village before and was keen to visit again, so the group agreed that we would head off to the new campsite, site unseen. After a painless border crossing we wound our way through the hills, mostly in the right direction – all the instructions for how to reach the campsite had been given in English, but most of the roadsigns were in Cyrillic! When we arrived at the campsite in the early afternoon we were rewarded with spectacular views over the rolling Bulgarian hills, plenty of opportunities for walks, and even a spot of fishing for Darrell and Neill. And we were also given an incredibly warm welcome by our hosts who could not do enough for us while we were there, providing a taste of the local firewater, Rakea (general consensus was that it wouldn’t become anyone’s drink of choice), and a full cooked breakfast the next day for anyone missing beans, sausages and bacon.
It was quite difficult to convince everyone to get back on the truck after breakfast with some of the group suggesting they would be happy to stay there and we could pick them up when we came through with the 2011 expedition! But finally everyone was on board and we took a short drive into the town of Veliko Tarnovo itself. It is safe to say that the town was not designed with overland trucks in mind, narrow cobbled streets and low overhanging buildings! We managed to navigate through without incident and everyone had a couple of hours to wander around the beautiful town on another lovely sunny day.
After four nights in organised campsites it was time to go bush again, so we found the most level piece of ground possible near a lake on the way to the Turkey border, set up camp, launched the boat, and made a campfire to cook a barbeque feast celebrating our last day in Europe (according to Mike who is, at this moment, still in Europe as we haven’t yet crossed the Bosphorous into Asia, but don’t tell him!