Posts Tagged ‘Zlatograd’


Lying on my bed in the bridal hotel in Momchilgrad, listening to the chill out music James is playing on his laptop, I ponder on the day. Wonderful, friendly people in a bleak landscape, penetrated by a shiny bright new EU road that, one day, will connect Bulgaria to Greece.

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

Today was bleak partly due to the grey, cold (but dry) weather, and partly due to the run-down towns and villages. The landscape is littered with empty bottles, wrappers, and other random rubbish. Coming from the west, it seems a small effort to put rubbish in the bin, but, it seems not to be done so widely here.

Rubbish at a drinking spring

Rubbish at a drinking spring

The Bulgarian people have all been lovely. Rather than aggressive horns from annoyed drivers, we were constantly greeted with drivers waving, giving us the thumbs-up or a salute. The lovely owners of Hotel Flora in Zlatograd gave us each a pair of hand-knitted woollen socks. These will be treasured on the cold nights ahead.

Our lovely warm socks

Our lovely warm socks

We finished early in Momchilgrad. There is a high-pass between us and the next town, and not enough daylight. We spent some time looking for a hotel, cycling through high-rise apartment buildings before we spotted the hotel we were looking for.

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

Momchilgrad

On seeing the hotel sign, James dropped to my feet and asked for my hand in marriage.

Hotel Konak

Hotel Konak

There is a wedding reception here tonight. Maybe I will catch the flowers thrown by the bride, and James might have a chance.


Take the road to Drama (a town in northern Greece) and turn right – into the mountains. We left the coastal plains, the factories, trucks, straight roads and the stress, and curved our way into a different part of Greece. Muslim. Rural. Beautiful.

Climbing to the Bulgarian border

Climbing to the Bulgarian border

Today was always going to be wet. The question was: where did we want to cycle in the nice weather after today? Along straight busy roads in Greece, or on the narrow, mountainous Bulgarian roads. An easy decision. We left the coast, and left the noise, hectic and traffic stress. The scenery, villages and people changed. We saw more mosques, and it became more rural, and much more mountainous. Granted, we were bathed in cloud, and rained on. And it was steep. But we breathed a sigh of relief. It was not just going from A to B. It was the journey again.

Before the first big climb. Filling up with some pastries.

Before the first big climb. Filling up with some pastries.

Echinos was a muslim town. We were welcomed with 4 simultaneous calls to prayer.

Echinos was a muslim town. We were welcomed with 4 simultaneous calls to prayer.

What better way to celebrate a climb than with the famous Xanthian sweets? Luckily we were able to find a lovely little gazebo offering shelter from the rain, so that we could cherish these Xanthian delicacies.

The blissful moment is imminent

The blissful moment is imminent

Hehe. Calories. Here we come!

Hehe. Calories. Here we come!

The view from our snack gazebo

The view from our snack gazebo

The final climb to Bulgaria was up a small, innocuous road, garnished with a little sign ‘Bulgaria’, that went almost vertically upwards from the turnoff. Entering Bulgaria we took the high road. We are now in Zlatograd, which I think is lovely name. I just love saying it, over and over. Zlatograd. Zlatograd. Zlatograd. Hehe.

Hello Bulgaria

Hello Bulgaria