Km 555 to km 642 (10% done!), Kom Peak (Bulgaria) to Rakita (Serbia). Not a lot of distance in the last few days, but there were a few things I needed to sort out.
Just as a note, from now on the daily kilometres may not add up exactly to the total distance. For the total distance I’m using the “main” route, but sometimes I’ll be taking alternates that could vary in length.
I’d also like to thank everyone who has left a comment. They’re always nice to read.
13/05/2022 – 35km, plus 3 from the hut back to the trail.
In the morning we said goodbye to Asger. It was nice hiking as a group of three. Perhaps we’ll see him in Sofia.
The day was quite hot as we strolled generally downhill through pleasant countryside. Now that I’m no longer on the Kom-Emine, there are no trail markings.
We took a longer break in the town of Godech that was very nice, filling up on food and we had some locals try to help us find things.
In the afternoon our pace slowed to a crawl as we fought our way through a few hundred metres of stinging nettles. We were rewarded with a beautiful old abandoned monastery.
14/05/2022 – 14km
The day started with an easy walk into Dragoman to take the train back to Sofia, where Zach will be flying from early tomorrow morning. Dragoman had a wonderful eastern European feel, and we enjoyed watching the dogs roaming around and the locals crossing the train tracks as we waited.
Back in Sofia we recharged with much needed laundry and showers before once again heading out to indulge in too much food.
I’ve not had much luck trying to post back my guidebook for the Kom-Emine. All the post offices in Sofia seem to be having some kind of system failure.
15/05/2022 – 21km
Early this morning Zach flew back to the US. And then there was one.
I took the train back to Dragoman where we left the trail yesterday and hiked up to the Serbian border for my first border crossing. Following that was a long road walk to the town of Dimitrovgrad.
Here I left the trail once again and took a bus to the town of Pirot (the next largest town). Tomorrow morning I hope to be able to sort out a SIM card for the western Balkan countries, these are the ones until I reach the EU again in Croatia (about 1000km away).
16/05/2022 – 33km
I had a productive organisation morning.
As soon as a mobile phone shop opened at 8am I went and sorted out a SIM card. Unfortunately prepaid SIM cards don’t share in the “western Balkan 6” roaming scheme (cheap roaming in the western Balkan countries). But the Serbian phone provider is still cheaper than my German one for this region, so I’ll stick with it until Croatia.
After sorting out my phone I applied for my “green border crossing permit” for Albania -> Montenegro, where I’ll (hopefully) be crossing the border in the mountains (where there’ll be no one to check my passport).
Due to the timing of the buses, I wasn’t back on the trail until 11:30, but still managed to salvage the day with a 33km road walk (I think I had better get used to it for this section). Despite road walking being a bit hard on the body, the route went through a very lovely gorge.
Good progress Ben. We just walked the southern 95 miles of the Hebridean Way (across eight islands). About a quarter of that was road walking, across causeways etc. Hard going, but as you say, the views make up for it.
I saw some photos on Facebook, it looks great.
Those pictures of the gorge made my day – much better scenery than my 2019 route. Still roads, but I think it’s the best one could hope for through the area. Hopefully the rest of the reroute works out.
I’m back on the main route again now. The rest was good, it was just that first section from the border to this gorge that was pretty rough, but as you said, there’s probably no good way to avoid that. But the rest generally had nice scenery or was on dirt roads or paths.
We’re all so enjoying your blog posts and particularly photos, Ben. Some beautiful scenery.. the abandoned monastery was amazing. If it’s not beautiful, it’s always looks interesting!