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Biking Bulgaria

Exchange rate: Rand 1 (R1) = Bulgarian lev (BGN) 0.1 (0.1 lev)

16 October 2023, Blagoevgrad, 37.73km
Hotel Alpha 46.8lev [R468]

I don't know why I tortured myself into a less than optimal night's sleep - there really was no need!
Each day we plot our route on Google Maps and get a feel for the terrain so we can prepare ourselves mentally for what lies ahead. Today we faced an elevation gain of 630 metres, less than on other recent ascents, but this time over a shorter and therefore steeper distance.
We had planned just under 40km from Delchevo in North Macedonia to Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria. Google assured us all the climbing would take place over the first 11km to the border.
In 2003, a Canadian company called Tour d'Afrique (TDA) began arranging Cairo to Cape Town cycle races / tours. I have watched them grow into a global force, now guiding long distance tours on every continent. As the tours are supported, participants have the option of hitching a ride in the support vehicle or of trying to achieve (cycle) *Every (er) Fabulous Inch (EFI)*.
Today I achieved EFI when I feared in the night this would be entirely beyond me.
And what a stunning ride it was, initially under a cloudy sky, later blue. Do not be fooled, however, by the sunshine shots - today for the first time winter was in the air.
On the downslope after the border (an easy crossing at both posts), we met a young German couple on an eight-week tour doing a portion of the Eurovelo Iron Curtain cycle route (see below).
In preparation for changing countries, we downloaded Bulgarian onto my phone, downloaded an offline Google Map, and updated our currency converter App to show Bulgarian Lev (BGN).
Once in town, we bought a local SIM and data package from VivaCom, drew cash from an ATM, and paid for the Alpha Family Hotel with our credit card - all ensuring we are connected and financially functional. We also had to set our clocks forward an hour.
Charl says I must mention *food*. Our Delchevo hotel deal included an omelette breakfast served with fresh cucumber and tomato. Once in Blagoevgrad, we settled for a quick late-lunch pepperoni pizza. And tonight we walked a km through the pedestrian street and along the river for a local pork-based dinner. Yum.
Another lovely day...
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