Monday, 10 September 2012

Edirne, The Border, some Stone Mushrooms

After Gallipoli I headed back up the peninsula and then north towards the town of Edirne. It was another day riding along highways over hills and then along mostly straight roads. Edirne is another quite nice Turkish border town, like Erzurum in the East. I navigated to a small street filled with hotels and ended up at the Tuna Hotel for 65lira/night (10 lira off because I hesitated after he said 75).

Edirne used to be the Ottoman capital for a while. It has some impressive old buildings, and a couple of old covered markets (but now selling the same crap as every other part of the planet). But I mostly took photos of the two big mosques in town.

Wonky view of Üç Şerefeli Mosque. Each minaret is built in a different style, the name comes from the one minaret there with three balconies.

Inside the courtyard.

Selimiye Mosque the larger and more famous mosque in Edirne. I've just learnt it has the highest minarets in Turkey at 70.9 meters!

The next morning I had packed up all my gear and made sure I had all of my paperwork in order before heading to the border with Bulgaria. I had also tried to time my refuelling for the Bulgarian side but I was a little too effective and hit reserve while still in Turkey. Not knowing where to get money or fuel in Bulgaria I put in another five litres of some of the most expensive fuel money can buy so I would make it to the cheaper fuel zone (although, not much cheaper it seems).

Once at the border the process was quite simple. Hand passport to some guy in a booth, he stamps me out of Turkey, ride to the next window and they type the number plate of my bike into a computer and that's it. I'm out of Turkey. Possibly a whole minute to get out of the country.

On the Bulgarian side I went through the EU lanes with my shiny UK passport, they just looked at it to checked I was the one in the photo and sent me to the next booth, no stamps needed here for EU passports. On to customs who were checking through the luggage in a few cars, one officer came over and asked if I had anything to declare, which I said no and then I was waved on. This was exceedingly simple, what's going on. The next booth is for the road toll/tax that all vehicles need to pay, I had read something that motorbikes were exempt but I couldn't remember exactly. After waiting in line for a while eventually a guy in the booth came out and made me go around all the cars and past the booth. Well I guess I don't have to pay it then. There was one other booth on the way out and they just waved me past too.

I stopped after the last gate to put my helmet and gloves back on and wonder why this only took 20 minutes. I kept thinking I'd hit a bigger fence further up the road where they would take a lot longer with the documentation, but no, I was in. That was all there was to it. I know I'm missing insurance but I'm hoping to sort that out at the motosapiens camp site who also offer the green card insurance for the rest of Europe too.

With the border crossed I headed into the nearest town to fine an ATM to get some local money. After I discovered the ATM it was back on the highway where I found a Shell service station with a McDonalds in it. I refuelled the bike, ate some bacon for the first time in a long time, and abused the free WiFi before moving on to my next stop at the stone mushrooms of Beli Plast. One of the two things I had noted down to look at in Bulgaria.

Donkey.

Beli Plast down there. This is from up on the hill where the stone mushrooms are.

This is them. A small grouping of these rock formations beside the road.

Another angle.

A brain looking one.

More shrooms.

All of the mushrooms from the most mushroomy looking group.

Shroom.
I got back on the main highway after getting lost in Haskovo and then headed to Plovdiv where I'd stay and explore Bulgaria's second biggest city for a couple of nights.

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