Saturday, July 12, 2008


Day 41 Ruse to Sumen

I left camp with the usual group of riders just after 7:00 am. The route was tremendously complicated with dozens of turns down country lanes. However Randy one of our tour leaders had flagged the route. The roads were in pretty good shape with just a few rough patches, a few steep hills and very little traffic. The scenery was the show stopper. Beautiful vistas of the huge fields and sweeping valleys.

There is a real contrast here. In Romania it was all small farm plots with horses and ancient tractors and most of the work in the fields done by hand. Here in Bulgaria the farms are huge even by North American standards, with modern farm equipment. Grain is being harvested by huge brand new Case and John Deere harvesters. There are still lots of horse drawn wagons loaded with hay and even a few donkey carts. Grandma is still walking the family cow in the ditches or out with a flock of ducks or geese.

We hit lunch early and cruised on to snack in good time. I had made a map of the route in case I got lost but Jim didn't so I gave mine to Jim. Then I stopped to take a picture and Jim rode on ahead. I guess there was a turn at the bottom of this long down hill and I missed it. As I rode on I realized that I had missed a turn because I had run out of flags. No map and I didn't even know the name of the hotel. All the signs are in Cyrillic so navigation is impossible. I knew that Sumen was east so I just started heading that way. I stopped and asked directions several times and with lots of hand waving and guessing at what was being told to me, I finally wound up in Sumen. However Sumen is a city of 500,000 so how do you find a hotel you don't even know the name of? I rode around looking for what would be the downtown and then I spotted a police radar trap. So I cruised up to the police and got them to phone Randy and got the name of the hotel. I was just 5 kms from the hotel. I finally rolled in exhausted at 5:00 pm with 162 kms on the speedometer. So I had spent and extra 30 kms wandering the country side. Surprisingly there were still a number of bags in the lobby. I guess other people had a hard day as well.

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