DAY 16 / THE COMMUNIST UFO 4.8.2015 / Potiond, Romania – Sofia, Bulgaria / 533 km, 4392 km total The sixteenth day on the Crimson Trail was going to be a hot one. Already at 0700 it was very warm outside as I started packing up my camp next to the cornfield. After breaking camp, I quickly proceed to the Bulgarian border and made it through in a flash, with just a passport check and a bit of a chat with the friendly border control officers. Bulgaria was very different compared to Romania. The alphabet was Cyrillic and there was a distinctive ex-Soviet flavour here and there. Architecturally it was very hard to place though. It seemed like it was a strange cocktail of the Eastern Europe, Soviet and with almost a Spanish flavour going on with the roof tiling. It seemed odd and of course very enjoyable. I had planned to ride from Romania to Serbia, so I had no route planned for Bulgaria. My maps were pretty poor and even the smaller roads were mostly paved. I was getting rather frustrated with the riding so I had to improvise and decided to take any small forest or field roads that were going in the generally correct direction. The strategy paid off and I found some nice trails and even bumped into a large abandoned building in the middle of the forest. There was derelict guardhouse and a gate on the road, but had clearly not been active for a very long time. The day was indeed incredibly hot and as I stopped for lunch, my phone gave an overheating warning. I hadn’t seen that before. Stopping for photography on the trail was very tough in the heat and had to be planned carefully. I needed a spot where I could set up in the shade and then ride through the scene and pack up again in the shade. Even with the precautions I was sweating profusely and going through my CamelBak quickly. A section of the trail was completely overgrown, and I had to ride some sections with my head all the way down on the bars. It was of course very slow and hot going so I decided to make a move and head for the main attraction I had in Bulgaria. The Buzludzha Monument. I arrived there after a stretch of tarmac but had to stop on the way due to another overheating warning from the bike. It was my fault though, as I had been hard on the throttle on the way up, enjoying the endless hairpins on the flat tarmac. The monument was an impressive example of Communist concrete architecture, perched high in the mountains, where the final battle between the Bulgarian rebels and the Ottomans was fought. After several successful clashes against a much larger Ottoman force, the battle went badly for the Bulgarians and their leader, Hadzhi Dimitar, was mortally wounded. His great adventure came to an end a few weeks later in a nearby village, where he succumbed to his injuries. A verse from a poem by Hristo Botev beautifully verbalises the unbreakable spirit of a man set on his own path. Non serviam. “He,who falls while fighting to be free can never die: for him the sky and earth, the trees and beasts shall keen, to him the minstrel’s song shall rise…” I parked in front of the main entrance of the decaying Communist behemoth. It had been unmaintained for a long time and closed to the public due to the imminent danger from falling roof plating among other hazards. I knew there was a way in though, so I packed up my cameras, tripod, tank bag and helmet and went looking for the entry point. On the northern side of the building I found the hole I was looking for and went to have a look. I was in luck as there was a Russian couple inside, to whom I passed my equipment before crawling in. The place was silent, with an ominous echo from the gravel grinding under my MX boots. I had reached the bottom level, under the main hall and after some photos made my way up. I knew the place from some research I had done earlier and knew what to expect. It wasn’t a difficult place to navigate, and I quickly found myself looking at the great circular hall with a mosaic ceiling displaying a huge hammer and sickle. It was stunning, as was the outside balcony with its sweeping mountain views. I ended up staying for two hours, not wanting to leave, just enjoying the spectacular views and architecture in the low western sun. Everything comes to an end and it became time to move on. On my way out I bumped into two Bulgarian guys, who were also bikers. They gave me ahead getting the equipment out of the building and we chatted for a good while before splitting ways. Georgi and Vladislav were on their way to party at the Black Sea and I decided to catch up some lost time and made a spirited ride to Sofia, arriving there around midnight. It had been a tight couple of days of riding and I was utterly spent. I decided to take a day or two off and recover.