Neighbor's goat in neighbor's country (visiting Doug & Poly's moto camp)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by neighbor's goat, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. neighbor's goat

    neighbor's goat Just call me "Goatie"

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    WRROOMMmania
    idyllic
    Pronunciation: \ī-ˈdi-lik, chiefly British i-\
    Function: adjective
    :pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity
    (source: merriam-webster)

    Idilevo: read above

    Yet, until we get to talk about Idilevo, let's just start by introducing the original riding plan I had in mind when I decided to take this extended weekend's moto trip through Bulgaria.

    It so happens that when the opportunity arose to have two days off from work, I instantly thought of having an extended weekend somewhere, at the Romanian seaside, possibly in a quiet, remote camping place, for a short relaxation. Then it crossed my mind that I've never been to Bulgaria before, and since the feedback I've received from friends traveling there was positive, I decided on short notice to try to spend these days at the Bulgarian seaside. One thing leads to another and while being a faithful follower of RTWDoug's ride reports, it crossed my mind that it would make a good opportunity not only to get to visit his appraised moto camp in Idilevo, but also to get to see on the way there part of Bulgaria and some important cities like Varna, Targoviste, Veliko Tarnovo and Ruse.

    I previously contacted Doug, asking him if he's gonna be around this weekend, unfortunately he was already preparing for his trip to Istanbul and Georgia; nevertheless he let Poly know about my arrival during the weekend. It would have been nice to have the "landlord" at his place when visiting the camp, for I really wanted to hear a lot of his stories and get to know him personally; nevertheless the "landlady" was filling in the space in an honorable manner. But we will come to that later.

    OK, let's start with the action:

    My trip started on Thursday morning in Bucharest, heading to Constanta end then to Vama Veche, for the Bulgarian border crossing. Nothing much worth mentioning here, except for the fact that the highway to Constanta was crowded and it was hot like hell, therefore forcing me to speed up and get the worst part of the way behind me.

    The border crossing to Bulgaria went flawlessly, without any incidents. Roads along the Bulgarian coastline aren't very well maintained and the villages I was passing through were pretty modest, quiet and humble. But that was what I was looking and hoping for; as opposed to the loud, colorful and "latin" Romanian seaside.

    The camping place I've chosen lies not far from the Romanian border; it was said to be a small, former "socialist" resort, with 2-3 hotels, 1 restaurant, a small camping ground and a thin shoreline along the coast. In the later years after the iron curtain fall, some "investors" (or whatever you may call them) have taken the restaurant and the camping ground and transformed them into a very targeted camping ground. When saying "targeted" I'm thinking of people enjoying the sea, sun and sand "per se", without the loud disco nights, flashing casino lights and fancy cars chasing mini skirts and silicone breasts.

    You will not find the name of this camping site nowhere across the ride report; I have deliberately omitted it, because this place should not be found and advertised on the internet or via a google search; or it will turn into a mass tourism place pretty soon. We had several places like this in Romania before and due to internet and mass advertising they've lost their natural beauty and virginity and turned into overcrowded places. Nevertheless, I will gladly share with you the name of the place; just please PM me and you will get for sure directions.

    This is the place I'm speaking about:

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    Quite a view from the tent, early in the morning; don't you think?

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    Unfortunately there were no other bikers at the moment in the camp to try to socialize with; nevertheless, there were some Germans, British and Polish guys, along with the local Bulgarians sharing the camp site with me.

    Here are some more views from the shore:

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    Views and "views"

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    The next day (Friday) I took a short moto ride to Balchik; the place on the Bulgarian sea side where Romania's queen Maria had built her summer palace due to the beauty of the surroundings and picturesque view:

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    All in all it was an interesting visit at the castle and a nice ride through this coastal village; I had the opportunity to buy very good ice wine bottles and jam made out of rose petals; they have nice selling places right by the castle and the prices are decent; at least I didn't feel ripped off. Nevertheless, be careful where you change your money; do not feel tempted to get a better deal from the unshaven lads running around the parking places and waving Bulgarian levas (the local currency) to change.

    Saturday morning I got up early in order to get on the road as quickly as possible, before the midday heat set in. Still, packing the tent and leaving took more time than planned, therefore I was not able to leave the camping ground before 9:30. The schedule was to get through Varna and then use the highway until close to Targoviste, Veliko Tarnovo and then to Idilevo moto camp in the afternoon.

    Although I went through all the above cities, the scorching summer heat made my stops limited only to gas stations and quick refreshment drinks, therefore I haven't got many pictures. I warmly recommend Varna's and Veliko Tarnovo downtown; these are beautiful places to stroll around and get to see the area.

    In Varna, right near a gas station, someone made a hard landing giving others a hard time (notice the upside down car behind de policemen, hehe)

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    Targoviste was a dissapointment; it looked like a city build entirely out of concrete blocks and sad, doomed citizens. No pictures from the city; just a pic from the road:

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    Something about the roads: Although not very keen in investing into highways, Bulgarians have wide, solid built roads, some of them having even a shoulder. I wish the tarmac quality should have been better though. Te good part to Bulgarian roads - as opposed to Romania - is that the first do not run through every single village and town, forcing you to slow down for every horse carriage, old lady crossing the street or kids playing ball etc. Still, Bulgarians have a funny way to set speed limitations outside cities, reducing your speed sometimes even to 40 km without any apparent reason. That's some thing I have to get figured out why from our Bulgarian ADV colleagues, if there will be any reading this ride report :wave

    Here are some pictures of Veliko Tarnovo, a city I liked riding through, and not only:

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    #1
  2. neighbor's goat

    neighbor's goat Just call me "Goatie"

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    WRROOMMmania
    Saturday around 3 PM, soon after leaving Veliko Tarnovo, the checkered flag on my GPS appeared, letting me know that Idilevo was getting somehow near. Funny, as the road got more interesting by the mile.

    If you get through woods like this, don't worry, neither the GPS is wrong, nor you are lost; THIS IS the way to Idilevo :thumb :

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    And then the road clears and passing through a small village you get to see one very familiar place - familiar because you've got to see it in previous ride reports on several forums - quite unmistakeable, I might add:

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    When I got there, the place was so quiet the silence almost hurt my ears. Boy, was I happy and relieved to finally made it to the ADV rider's Bulgarian Mecca :evil

    Poly welcomed me and took me around the property. As we were chatting, suddenly a small group of Moldavian riders "stormed" the camp entrance, howling their big, powerful engines. They were on their way to Burgas, and found out by word to mouth about the moto camp in Idilevo, they wanted to spend the night there.

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    In fact, I later found out that I wasn't the only Romanian rider camped there during this weekend; another group of 5 boys arrived on Friday and they were just exploring the surroundings and ride a little bit offroad. I've got to meet them later in the afternoon, when we chatted over a beer. They showed me some beautiful pictures of the area they had visited; I'm not gonna spoil anything and let them tell you their own story.

    Some pics from the "hidden treasures" the camp has to offer:

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    Doug and Poly's workshop:

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    IJ "Planeta":

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    #2
  3. neighbor's goat

    neighbor's goat Just call me "Goatie"

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    WRROOMMmania
    Entering "the Temple":

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    As you can see, I've used one of my widest lenses to get these pictures. Still, it's the detail that actually counts. You have to be here, to study every inch of the walls, stuffed with all kinds of interesting, funny, memorable stuff.

    It's sort of a live ADV site, with real parts and memorabilia from ride reports, local forums, bike types, service & maintenance, old and new bike advertisements, ATGATT and WrongGATT, Jo Momma etc.

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    I've remembered that Doug once said: "It's up to all of us to make this a better place" and therefore packed before leaving home my old moto license plate with me, and brought my own little contribution to the collection:

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    (by the way: Poly, the new Transfagarasan picture is already on it's way to you, via postal mail; in a large, yellow cardboard envelope :thumb )

    Meanwhile, my fellow countrymen returned from their ride in the hills; one of them had a flat tire which kept them busy for a while.

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    Another picture from the bar/main hall/dining room/call-it-what-you-will:

    Poly and Ivo (Poly's right hand and helper at the camp; a very nice and helpful guy) checking out some pictures the Moldavian boys were sharing:

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    In the evening a British rider (riding a Bulgarian licensed Dakkar thumper) drove in; we had a small chat about our bikes, as they are "cousins" (mine is a F650 GS from the same year as his). Unfortunately I don't recall his name; he had an ADV sticker but he told me that he's not posting around here very often. In this picture he is chatting with a guy from Romania:

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    Later a local guy and his two children stopped by to greet us and Poly; his 6 years old boy stole everybody the show with his little ride, making him the evening star:

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    And just when I thought I've seen it all, this little ginger fellow showed up:

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    In fact, he's the one governing the moto camp. I have seldom seen a cat with an attitude like this one. He made the funniest, craziest things and always had the proper face as a reason/justification for them.

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    At night, another surprise: Debbie & Andy paid a visit at the camp. No, these two were not riders, but they are British and have a quite amazing story of their own. I will not tell you anything about it; you'll have to go to Idilevo and there are good chances to have a chat with them. Just take this as an additional teaser to come to visit the camp.

    In the morning we had breakfast made by Poly and then we headed our own ways; I took off towards Veliko Tarnovo and then Ruse and Giurgiu-Bucharest; the other Romanian guys left for another direction to see other locations on their way home.

    Here are some photos from the "suburbs" of Veliko Tarnovo; it seems to be some kind of monastery and some caves carved in the mountain rocks.

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    #3
  4. neighbor's goat

    neighbor's goat Just call me "Goatie"

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    WRROOMMmania
    Conclusion?
    Well, that's difficult to say. Some say they felt just like home. I'd say it's a little bit better than home because:
    - back home, you definitely ain't gonna find a place to feel like home AND get to see all the stuff, meet all the guys, get yourself surprised by all the people coming in, ride all that far and feel oh so close to the entire motorcycle karma harmonizing with that place.
    You simply have to come and see the camp for yourself. It is unique in it's own way. And remember what I've told you is only one small part of what Idilevo means; just wait and see the surroundings, the lake, Hotnitsa and so on.

    Go and see Poly, one of the kindest and nicest persons you'll get to meet; go and greet Ivo, the friend to have when you're in need and always ready with the proper tool from Doug and Poly's workshop; go pet the funny ginger cat; go check out the old, dusty bikes; sign your name on the newly installed whiteboard with the world map; say Hello to Debbie and Andy, and, best of all - claim yourselves the first free ADV beer. :freaky

    And if you go there, make us, ADV riders, proud, and - just as Doug said - make that place a little better. "Add spiritual value" to the place, bring and leave there something personal and dear. Leave a positive mark, a small "thank you" for these guys' hospitality up there in the idyllic Bulgarian mountains. There are T-shirts you can buy from the moto camp to wear home; and if you didn't already have the chance to contribute via paypal, remember that Doug helps his friend Bogdan in Odessa to take care of those kids forced to leave the orphanage; don't be shy to drop a small donation right there at Poly's place.

    I've arrived just yesterday from there, but I'm really looking forward to going there again, to see the rest of it and more.
    #4
  5. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,125
    Location:
    Alabamski Oblast, Redneckistan
    Hey Dragos
    Im sorry I wasnt there when you came, but the road was beckoning.....

    Im glad you had a good time, & hope to see you next time.
    Thanks for the license plate & all the kind words!

    Doug
    #5
  6. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    99
    :clap
    #6
  7. DC950

    DC950 Microadventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,043
    Location:
    Memphis, Motorcycle Purgatory
    very nice, thank you. I'll have to show this to a friend of mine who grew up in Bulgaria.
    #7
  8. Falgaroth

    Falgaroth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Hvidovre,Denmark
    Hi Goatie

    Thanks for sharing your RR to Doug's palace ;)

    Made me want to plan a trip down there next year, family permitting ;) As it's only a 27 hr's ride away from me ;)

    /Fal
    #8