I don’t speak the language

I spend tonight in a Bulgarian hospital.


This morning I realized that I need to spend more time mapping my route. My map of Turkey is too large a scale, and clearly outdated. The map has topo information, but I need to pay better attention. There’s also rain in the forecast for Thurs. I spent an hour this morning looking at my likely next few days on the map, and decided to change plans, and catch a bus directly to Bulgaria. The cyclists yesterday recommended that difficult route, but a bus to the top of the mountain range gives me a day of rest, and the next day mostly downhill.

I’m regularly asked what do since I don’t speak the language. I cycled to the bus station, and asked about a bus. Some back and forth (which included calling his son who spoke limited English) led to learning the bus was small, and the bicycle and luggage would not fit. *Sigh*  Someone then went outside to take a close look at the bike, realized the luggage was detachable, and gestured that I should remove the panniers and front tire; the bus would arrive in 30 minutes. While I waited, the staff brought me tea, then water, then more tea!

Four people unloaded and reloaded the bus to fit my bike, waved me goodbye, and I was on my way (not quite certain how to bike would suffer the ride). The only remaining problem was I had to change buses. As everyone helped unload my bike, I pulled out my map and pointed to the final destination. They grabbed my panniers, and led me to the other side of the station.

Upon realizing i didn’t have a ticket, someone led me to another part of the station to confirm the plan in English, and then back where I started to buy the ticket. The next bus didn’t have room, but the one 15 minutes later did. Three passport checks later at the Bulgarian border, and I find myself in the border town. The ticket would have taken me much farther, but this is a cycling trip after all. I adjusted the front brakes (again) but the bike survived the trip.

When I went out for dinner tonight, I spent a while trying to figure out what was the restaurant; in Turkey and Bulgaria, abandoned building and restaurant don’t look all that different. I asked for a menu, but they had questions about what I wanted. So the cook gestured me to the kitchen, and pointed at ingredients for yes and no.

I don’t find language an insurmountable barrier. I’ve used Google Translate a few times, but from the response the translations are not very good.

No vacancies in the local hotel, but they referred me to the hospital nearby, where I could stay for the night. Tomorrow should be 70+ km, and camping on the Black Sea.


5 thoughts on “I don’t speak the language”

  1. It has a lot to do with your winning personality Rick. If it were me, they probably would send me home or just ignore me.

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