Against my own advice

In the middle of the night I woke to the thunder of rain on my tent. By the morning the rain settled into a slow dreary drizzle. I cycled unloaded two km into town to search for the archaeological site of the old city walls. Found the walls, but the associated museum was closed.

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I wandered about the old city until 10:15 waiting for the museum to open, to no avail, and headed to the next site on my list – Castle Zamk, two kilometers outside of town, in the opposite direction. Castle Zamk portrays an imposing image on the hillside, one and the same castle I saw cycling  into town. Castle Zamk is Disney-esque, a castle clearly under reconstruction as a tourist attraction. The outside gardens are under construction, with the interior unfortunately closed. Like merengue, a pretty place, but unfulfilling in my castle quest.

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I headed back to the campground with a quandry. The rain was on the edge of soaking wet or tolerable, yet light enough likely to last all day. I hate leaving in the rain (not to mention the associated packing). I dithered around a while, angsting about departure. From careful examination of the weather forecast I decided the rain should abate between 1pm and 6pm, a window large enough to get to Burgas, only 35 km away. Finally packed and ready to leave, past the checkout time.

Cycling on the Mediterranean coast in Spain, I’d been rained on at least four hours every day for the past ten. I camped on Costa Brava at a five-star campground. A five star campground includes two restaurants, three pools, several guest kitchens, two supermarkets, and tennis courts. Upon waking to more rain, I walked directly to reservation and extended my stay. Three hours later, not only did the rain stop, but the sky opened up to a glorious blue, with a casual breeze off the sea. I only needed my passport back from registration to depart. Yet I couldn’t convince the person at registration that I didn’t care about a refund of $6, and she insisted I had to wait until 3 pm for the right person to refund my money. We went back and forth, and while my Spanish is better than any other language, I failed to make my point. When she turned away, I leaned over the counter, grabbed my passport, and told her I was leaving. She turned around to say, “You can’t leave, I have your …” and then realized what I had done. The gate at the campground was down, but then again, bike. She was quite upset, I wondered for the next half hour if someone would come after me.

No such issues in Bulgaria, even cautioning to be careful, as the roads were slippery from the rain. I had found on the GPS what I expected, a secondary road next to the highway. Those roads, like seeming everything else in Bulgaria, under construction. Packed gravel, but I’ve done much worse. Four km down the highway, I realized I’d left a shirt, socks, and towel hanging on a clothesline a neighbor had let me use. I hate going backwards, but my gear list is really tight  – I don’t have spare gear, and what gear I have is specialized. Back I went.

On the road again, the rain never stopped. The secondary road degraded into mud, brakes and fenders finally jamming with brown goo. After digging them clean twice, I admitted defeat, and hacked my way back to the semi-adjacent highway. No shoulder, but the drivers in Bulgaria are as considerate as Turkey, trucks passing far enough away to not even disturb my ride. While nerve wracking, the remained of the trip was damp but uneventful. Even forewarned that the signage was poor, a neighbor finally redirected me. You can clearly read the sign above the doorbell.

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A room for the night included hosing my bike down, and strewing at least some of my gear across the room to dry.

Likely another highway day tomorrow, before I can retreat from the coast, and start towards the Danube. Going to try to rebuild the front brakes tomorrow as well – still jamming.

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