Bulgaria












Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 77 °F ( +25 °C)
09 Sep 2016
6270 km

Andreis appartment is on the eleveth floor, with a great view over Sofia. He has a large collection of mini cars in the apartment and on the ground floor of the building he has his workshop where he makes the mini cars.

We took the Metro in to town today having a look around, some lunch and a few beers. In the evening we had dinner at a restaurant in the neighborhood with Yassen and Dora. It is much more interesting and exciting to stay in a residential area. We feel that we get a glimpse of Bulgarian life here.














Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 69.8 °F ( +21 °C)
10 Sep 2016
6270 km

The mileage at the meter shows 130 000 kilometers and we have made about 7 000 kilometers since we left Sweden. We think it is time we give our Saab some extra care. And with this many Saab enthusiasts around here in Sofia we feel it is the perfect place to do it. Yassen arranged with a workshop so that we could make an oil change and to get a new oil filter. For Castrol oil, a new filter and the service we paid 40 Euro.

We also changed the broken left rear mirror . Andrei had one for us. Yeah, now we dont have to order one all the way from Sweden. Thanks Andrei!

On top of that we made an extra key for our Saab. It coasted only 5 Euro, including three home visits from the key maker . Not bad at all! At the store we also got to do some wine tasting . For us it feels a little strange to have wine tastings in the supermarket. That could never happen in Sweden.

In the evening we were invited for dinner at Yassen and Doras, and we got some tips for where to go and nice beaches at the Black Sea Coast worth visiting.












Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
11 Sep 2016
6273 km

Passed Yassen and Dora to leave the keys to Andreis appartment. They invited us for breakfast - pancakes. It is pancake Sunday. After that we headed for Sozopol and the Black Sea. The roads are great. We covered 400 kilomters in like 4 hours.

Both Andrei and Dora had told us that South Beach campsite was a great place to stay. On the website we could see that it won an award for best campsite 2015, and that sounded great. So we went there.

Today there was an article about us and our journey in the local newspaper of our home town. It was two pages in Sundsvalls tidning, and the same thing was also published at their website www.st.nu.












Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 25.250 E 023 38.732 ->
Today: 80.6 °F ( +27 °C)
12 Sep 2016
6680 km

It is still +27 degrees Celsius, sun and blue sky and they are closing the campsite for the season! After this week they will shut down the power. There are still a few guests here. Hanging in there to the bitter end. Normally it is very crowded here. But now it feels a bit empty and gloomy.

The beach is great and very long. The campsite is a bit run down, but it works for our needs, it has shower, toilet, water and wifi, for 15 Euro per night.












Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 25.250 E 023 38.732 ->
Today: 80.6 °F ( +27 °C)
13 Sep 2016
6680 km

This morning we packed our stuff and jumped in the car to go in to Sozopol. Right away we realized that the clutch didnt work at all. Absolutely nothing happened when Bert pressed it down.

What is this? It worked perfectly two days ago. Bert got under the hood trying to figure out what was wrong. Then he started to phone Saab enthusiasts to get some advice and spare parts. He started with Andrei in Greece, Magnus Thorsell in Sundsvall, Yassen in Sofia and Humpe (Brje Sderberg) in Sundsvall, who has been Saab mechanic for over 40 years.

Humpe was the hero of the day. He came up with the solution. It is not enough to fill brake fluid to the max limit. It has to be more than max, to give the clutch the oil it need. Humpe said Fill up brake fluid to a bit over the max limit, and then pump the clutch for at least 150 times. Said and done. After we had made about 250 pumps, the clutch worked perfectly again!

It is leaking oil from the main cylinder , this is the reason why it all happened. Andrei has found us a new clutch cylinder today. It will arrive at our campsite tomorrow, by express delivery. It feels like we Saab owners are like a great happy family!

When everything was working again, we went in to Sozopol as planned. It is a holiday town with a lot of nice alleys and old buildings and a large beach right in the center.












Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 24.486 E 027 40.376 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
14 Sep 2016
6693 km

Today we prepared for being able to apply for a Pakistani visa. We have been in contact with a travel agent in Pakistan that is going to help us getting a Letter of invitation LOI. But to even apply for a LOI we need to make a very detailed itinerary, with entry and exit dates, exact route with all the stops and name of all hotels we are going to stay in. This means that we need to find hotels that we can stay in and that we want to stay in, that are not too expensive and not too shabby. On top of that we need a safe parking for our car behind locked gates.

This was not an easy task, and this together with filling out the LOI application it took us all day and half the night. A lot of work and still the police maybe throw our planning overboard when we get there by not letting us pass in the phase we planned for. The last time when we travelled Pakistan we got a visa without much hassle and could travel as we pleased, but with police escort all the way from Shikarpur to Lahore.














Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 24.486 E 027 40.376 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
15 Sep 2016
6693 km

The packet arrived today, but to Sozopol and not to the campsite. We went in to town to find the shipping office. Bert got really worried when he opened the wrapping. The picture at the box showed something completely different. But as soon as he opened the box he realized it was a clutch cylinder after all. And the right one too. Puh!

The rest of the day we tried to find the quickest and most reliable way to get our passports and application documents to the Pakistani embassy in Sweden. DHL must be the best way we thought. But then we realized that the Pakistani embassy only have a post-box address for visa applications. After some research and e-mails to DHL customer service we realize that they cant deliver to a post-box address. Then we tried to get hold of the embassy to find out if they will receive a visa application by DHL if we send one, and if the visa application has to be delivered during the consular sections visiting hours 9 11.30 in that case. But we dindt get an answer to this. And we could not risk our passport ending up on dusty shelf at a DHL office because the embassy refused to take them.

We needed to find another solution and called John. He lives in Stockholm and are at home taking care of his infant for the moment. And yes, no problem. We can send the DHL package to him, and he will take it to the embassy and collect the visas when they are done. And send them back to us. Great!












Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 24.486 E 027 40.376 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
16 Sep 2016
6693 km

This morning we had an answer from Pakistan. Our application looked good. And we got the details for making the payment of the LOI fee. 110 Euro was to be paid by Western Union transfer. Again we went in to Sozopol, this time to find a Western Union office. We have never sent money by Western Union before, and it feels a bit strange. The only contacts we had for the receiver of the money was his name, Islamabad and Pakistan. But as soon as we paid, the money arrived in Pakistan. And we e-mailed the transfer code to Mr Kamal, and he could collect the money. Now we only have to wait for the documents to arrive from Pakistan by e-mail.














Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 24.486 E 027 40.376 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
17 Sep 2016
6693 km

Today the LOI documents arrived from Pakistan. It was copies of Mr Kamls ID card, back and front, a copy of the travel agencys license and LOI for Bert and Catharina. With these documents, copies of our registration in Sweden, application forms, photos and last but not least our original passports we can now send it all to Sweden.

At the DHL webbsite we had found a service point for international deliveries in Burgas, 25 kilometers away. Now it is only the easy part left of this. But not so. We searched for hours after the DHL service point. We asked lots of people, and they pointed us in all directions. After a while we were starting to run out time. We had to leave the package before 13.30 for it to be shipped today.

Finally we came in contact with a man who knew about another DHL service point, but only for domestic deliveries. He drove us there. We could send the packet from there, but it took 2 more days to deliver and it was a little bit more expensive. But what the hell! The woman at the service point told us that the DHL office that we had been looking for was not even built yet. And still it was marked as an international service point at the DHL map. No wonder we didnt find it!

Then we hurried back home to start the text visa process to Iran. But soon we realized that they have gone crazy too. They also ask for a very detailed itinerary, with dates, hotels etcetera. Why are they doing this! The last time in Iran we got our visa and could travel as we pleased.

Now we need to rethink our plan, we need to try to get a visa to India before we enter Iran, to have a reasonable chance to make an itinerary. Our previous plan was to apply for the Indian visa in Teheran. But that makes it very difficult to estimate the time we need in Iran. We just have to put Iran at side and fokus compleatly at getting a Indian visa as soon as possible.












Sozopol, Bulgaria
N 042 24.486 E 027 40.376 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
18 Sep 2016
6758 km

This morning we took the bull by the horns and started our visa application process for India. We filled in a webb form. And the really ask a lot of questions. And I mean a lot of questions about everything! And if we didnt know a person in Bulgaria it would have been impossible to even apply for a visa using this web form, since name, address and phone number in Bulgaria was mandatory.

It took us about four hours to finish the application form. But finally we managed to send it to the Indian embassy in Sofia. So now we have to go back to Sofia again. And we hope to be called to the embassy in a few days for biometrics control. Also that is mandatory nowadays. But one good thing with going back to Sofia, is that we finally get to meet Andrei and his family who are back from Greece today.












Truckstop, Bulgaria
N 042 13.167 E 025 02.438 ->
Today: 68 °F ( +20 °C)
19 Sep 2016
7013 km

Look what we found today on our way in to Sofia IKEA. We were very pleased since we took the last of the Kalles Kaviar tube this morning, a very Swedish breakfast spread.

We have been waiting to hear from the Indian Embassy all day and have been checking our e-mail constantly. But no sign. We have to go there tomorrow. We have not time too just sit around and wait.

In the evening we were back at Andreis place again, in the well known parking lot outside his building. The big difference is that Andrei and his family actually are at home this time. Andrei took us to his work shop where he makes his scale model cars and could show us how they are done. The cars are exact replicas of real cars with plates and everything. And there is a lot of work behind every car.














Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 62.6 °F ( +17 °C)
20 Sep 2016
7200 km

First thing after breakfast Andrei drove us to the Indian embassy. They had some questions about our application and also we needed to get larger photos, 2 x 2 inch and not the 35 x 45 mm that is the usual size for visa applications. So this means we had to go home again to fill in two new applications with some more information. Then we took two new passport photos and found a place where they could print them on photo paper. And this took most of the day for us.

In the evening we arranged a Swedish dinner at Andreis place. When IKEA was this close to here it was easily arranged. We had herring, potatoes, schnapps and salmon in lobster sauce and finished it all off with almond cake. The Swedish schnapps songs we sang seemed to be most appreciated part of this.

Today the DHL package arrived and John sent us a picture of him holding the package as proof of this. Tomorrow he will go to the Pakistani embassy to give them the applications. Hopefully they will not ask for more documents or more information.














Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 57.2 °F ( +14 °C)
21 Sep 2016
7200 km

Already yesterday we got an appointment for 10.15 today at the Indian embassy. We had to go there for an interview, to leave biometrics and pay the fee of 55 Euro per visa. The Ambassador himself conducted the interview that took about 30 minutes. He asked a lot of questions like what are we going to do in India, where are we going to stay and how are we going to pay our time in India etcetera. We have applied for many visas before, but never have we been asked to do an interview like this and its also the first time we have to leave biometrics. But the Ambassador seemed pleased with our answers and told us that we could pick up our visas next week.

After that we got a message from John, who had been at the Pakistani embassy today. And they said that he could pick up the visas already on Friday. Yeah!

That is great. But now we need to focus on the Iranian visas. The time for this is starting to run out. For eight hours we estimated driving times, routes, what to see and where to stay etcetera, all the things we need to be able to fill in the application form.

In the evening we finally submitted the application form. Now we have to wait to hear from them how to make the payment of the 27 Euro per person for the Reference Number we are going to get. But wow, a lot of pieces are falling into place now in this visa application marathon we have been at for a while now.
















Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 64.4 °F ( +18 °C)
22 Sep 2016
7200 km

Today it is the national day in Bulgaria, they are celebrating the liberation from the Ottoman rule. Everything is closed for four days, and Andrei has invited us for the weekend to the village where his parents are spending the summers.

Andrei has prepared a full four day program for us. You can tell he is experienced arranging things. He has been responsible for the Saab Club meetings here for many years. On the way to the village we visited Saeva Cave a big and beautiful cave, 480 meter long and divided in to five big halls. And of course there were bats living there too.

Next stop was an old but still functioning Monastery . In the crypt underneath the Monastery there were skulls from the heroes fighting for the liberation of Bulgaria.

Late in the evening we arrived at Andreis parents house in the village of Ryahovtsite. The dinner was alredy prepared. We had fantastic homemade Bulgarian food . And when we say homemade we really mean homemade. Most of the food was from their own garden, even the apple juice, raspberry juice, honey and raki was homemade. This is the kind of food that makes you feel really good.
















Ryahovtsite, Bulgaria
N 042 01.500 E 025 00.877 ->
Today: 62.6 °F ( +17 °C)
23 Sep 2016
7428 km

This morning we could see the wonderful garden. It is like a paradise garden with lots of home grown vegetables , fruits, berries and flowers . The mountain air here is clear, clean and cool and this is a very relaxing place. All this together with the great hospitality and the fantastic food makes this the highlight of this trip so far.

But then a big dark cloud showed up. The agency in Iran that is arranging the Reference Code for us contacted us again. Now they are telling us that we need a guide with us when traveling in Iran. And pay fee, hotel, food etc for this guide too. The reason for this seems to be that we are traveling in our own car. What noncence is this? We know that it is like this for the English, Canadians and Americans. But there is absolutely no information about this anywhere that this is a rule for Swedish citizens or anyone else for that matter. Rumor has it that it is the agencies themselves that push for this. We went on the computer again to try to find out some more information about this. After a few hours we decided to go ahead with the Reference Code process. Hopefully we will manage to make it without a guide. We will see how this ends

In the evening we went to Veliko Tarnovo to see a well known light- and sound show about the dramatic liberation from the Ottoman rule. We were lucky to catch it since they are only making this show a few times a year. The show was very impressive and we had the best possible seats at front row in the terrace overlooking the show.

Then we went home to the village to have a very late dinner at 11.30 PM. But that is not unusual here. In Bulgaria you normally have dinner between 8 10 PM. But it feels a bit unusual for us to eat and then go to bed like an hour after that. Also the children eat that late and stay up almost to midnight, even if they have to go to school the day after.
















Ryahovtsite, Bulgaria
N 042 01.500 E 025 00.877 ->
Today: 73.4 °F ( +23 °C)
24 Sep 2016
7428 km

Lots of people in the villages make their own raki and is also legal to do it as long as it is for the familys own consumption. Raki is usually made from grapes, plums, apples or whatever you have in your garden. Before we left the village we visited some relatives who were right in the process of making raki and we got a lesson how it all works and got the taste the still warm raki dripping out of the tube. We also got a bottle of raki as a present, but unfortunately it will be a problem to get that one in to Iran.

After that we went to Gabrovo and the ethnographic outdoor museum showing Bulgarian traditions and craft . A lot of the craft work was run by water and they has a quite genial contraction a power line along the village on the hillside, and everyone could take out as much water power as they needed.

Next stop was Shipka. It is a big monument over the final battle in the liberation war against the Ottoman rule. The load speakers played military music over the aria. The many of the local visitors was waving flags and took photographs with the monument as a backdrop. You can tell that there is a great national pride about the liberation war still and the revolutionary leaders are mentioned by name and considered heroes.

In the evening we arrived in Koprishitisa, where we spent the night by a guesthouse built in 1758 , that a friend of Andrei owns.
















Koprishitisa, Bulgaria
N 042 38.473 E 024 21.611 ->
Today: 60.8 °F ( +16 °C)
25 Sep 2016
7611 km

Koprishitisa is a small town of 2 000 inhibitans with only tradional buildings. The hole town looks like an museum. All the building is old style and if someone is going to build something new it has to be in a traditional style and technique. During the national holiday the music and life style of Chalga was banned in Koprishitisa. Chalga can be defined as fat blokes with expensive cars, too much gold chains and with girls with not enough clothes being sexy all the time.

The liberation movement started in Koprishitisa to spread over the country. Some of the leaders came from here and their houses have been converted to museums. Today we went on a tour in town visiting some of them. In the evening we went back home to Sofia again.














Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 57.2 °F ( +14 °C)
26 Sep 2016
7726 km

Yeeah, today the passports with our visas for Pakistan arrived by DHL from Sweden. Now one out of three is ready. Great!

Something that was not as great was that Catharina got a stomach flu. And to have stomach flu and to stay in the car is really not that great. But there is no use veining and feeling sorry for yourself, you just have to solve the problem and throw up in the wastepaper basket. Luckily it didnt leak...

One for us unusual thing here in Bulgaria is that you can isolate your flat on the outside in a big building. It looks a bit funny when some do and some dont. The houses look a bit like a quilt and they are also allowed to pant their apartments in different in different colors. In Sweden the beauty council for sure wouldnt allow it.












Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 71.6 °F ( +22 °C)
27 Sep 2016
7765 km

Yeeah again, today we could collect the Indian visas. They even got ready two days earlier than expected and now two out of three are done. This means that things we needed to do in Sofia are done too and tomorrow we are ready to move on again.

A friend of Andrei popped by to see our car. He collects miniature cars and has an exact replica of our car. Of course he wanted to see our car in real life when we visited Sofia.

In the evening we had a dinner at Andreis. Yassen and Dora also came along. It was great seeing them again. And since we are not going to be in Sofia for Andreis birthday on Thursday, we decided to celebrate him tonight instead.














Sofia, Bulgaria
N 042 38.458 E 023 22.549 ->
Today: 71.6 °F ( +22 °C)
28 Sep 2016
7765 km

We said goodbye to Andrei and his family and headed for Istanbul . It feels great to be on the road again, but it feels really sad to leave our friends in Bulgaria. We have had such a great time here and been so very good taken care of. We feel like we have been in Bulgaria for real not only as tourists. We have got see and experience so much more. Maybe we will pass Bulgaria on our way back; the chance is 50/50 depending on the way we choose to round the Black Sea.

The Turkish border was only a couple of hours away. We are happy that we didnt have to cross the border by truck. It was a 10 kilometer line of trucks at the border on the Bulgarian side. And on the other side it was just as bad. But for us it took 7 minutes to check out of Bulgaria and 16 minutes to enter Turkey, and the customs were very curious of our car and how everything was working, not to search it.

As soon as we passed the border we stopped to make lunch, to the sound of the prayers from the Mosque next to us. We also got some tips from an Iranian truck driver about what is the best route to Iran from here. He didnt speak any English at all. A while later he came back to take a picture of Mr and Madam and our car.