I got a good night's sleep at the Xotel, but I had to use earplugs and move to the other bed because the air conditioner, which was right above the first bed, occasionally made loud snapping sounds and splashed a little bit of cold water on the head of the bed. My earplugs took care of the sounds, but having a little bit of cold water splash on my face woke me up ;-}. Breakfast was included in the 40 lue price and, although not large enough, was good.
On my way
I left about 9 am, heading south east on 66. Yes, I thought about route 66 which I rode some of last fall! My route today had roughly three 35 km sections. Sliven to Nova Zagora, Nova Zagora to (bigger)Stara Zagora and Stara Zagora to (smaller) Chirpan. The predicted winds 10 -15 mph from the north west, weren't there until after the first section and mostly were lighter tail/side winds on the last sections. all on 66.
Most of today was quite nice riding. I ended up in Chirpan at a place with a pool and food and beer where I'm writing this before heading on to look for a place to camp. Later: I rode about 10 km further on 66 and camped next to road, behind a thin layer of trees, on the edge of a field of sunflowers. It isn't the stealthiest camping site, and someone looking for a camp could spot it from the road, but only if they were looking. People have walked by, within 15 feet, talking without noticing it. In about an hour it will be dark and then I won't worry when people walk by. In the meantime, I'll try to get this ride report done ;-}!
Sliven was an easy town to get out of. It turned out that my hotel was only a few blocks from 66 which is a major four lane expressway in town. I cranked on down the road at a good pace with a bit of a tail wind and no real problems getting to my first destination. The wind was usually a gentle head/cross wind which slowed me down a little and kept me cool on this hot day. The road was flat for a while then began climbing gently and climbed for long time. then it descended and climbed again. There was one section where I was in my granny gear for about half an hour, but that was due to the heat, as much as to the slope.
Bulgarian roadside stop with multiple places to eat
I'm still waiting for an actual Burger King
More pretty country
I stopped at the first place I saw to eat in Nova Zagora. Service was slow, but the meal was good and substantial. I reconsidered my routing options there and decided to continue on 66. My other option would take me further south, where 66 would take me to Plovdiv and then I would cross the mountains to get me a bit south of Blagoevgrad. Interestingly, my GPS hung when I asked it to route to Blagoevgrad, but not when I asked it to route me to the junction south of Blagoevgrad.
I figured I'd eat again in Stara Zagora, but that didn't work out, mostly because I wasn't that hungry yet. When I was 10 km or so away from Stara, I asked my gps about food places. It showed McD, KFC, and several other places to eat all at the same distance. When I rode into town, I discovered that were all together in the food court of a very up scale mall. Stara seems to be a very wealthy place. I noticed a car dealership which seem to specialize in large black Mercedes and Audis. Hmm, those were just the kind of cars I was told to be careful about offending the first time I rode here ;-}.
I rolled my bike into the mall and was approached by a security guard who, while friendly, was not happy about having the bike in the mall. He called his superior who apparently told him to be nice to English speaking bike tourists ;-}. Then it was OK have my bike in the mall and even take it up the escalator to the food court. Unfortunately McDs was out of fruit pies, so I settled for an, over priced for Bulgaria, cup of coffee.
When I got through Stara, I needed a drink. I stopped at the next town and had a beer which I consumed with a banana, bread, and cheese from my supplies. I was very happy, some 30+ km later, to see the place in Chorpan where I had a large supper, two beers, and filled my water bottles so I'd be OK for tonight's camp and tomorrows ride to Plovdiv and then into the mountains on my way to Blagoevgrad. I've wanted to ride in those mountains ever since I saw them the first time I was in Bulgaria.
66 near A1
Great place to eat and get ready to camp
Looking back at Chirpan
Nice site except for a stealth problem
This image was taken from the end of my tent.
The road is just on the other side of that gap in the vegetation.