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Sunday, October 9, 2011 | Sofia

We are now heading for Sofia. The road stretches before me and it’s not long before the highway gives way to a kind of country road where progress is slow. At least this gives me plenty of time to think about my experiences so far.

The landscape is changing. The gentle hills slowly become impressive cliffs and I make good progress along the valley. I am not impressed by the drivers in front and behind me, who seem to be getting more and more aggressive. Finally, I reach the Bulgarian border. I should perhaps take a break here, as so far there have been no traffic hold-ups despite my encountering one or two roadworks.

It’s the same story at the border posts: entering and leaving Serbia posed – and is posing – no problems. The expected customs delays don’t materialise, although I have passed through a Non-EU country. All to the good, of course as this saves valuable time.

Once arrived in Sofia, the vital task is to locate a parking spot and a decent place to sleep. Near the airport is a secure car park, which looked a good bet. But just how secure is it? I checked with the security guard. I notice to my alarm that quite a few cars have had their tyres slashed. This is not terribly reassuring. The guard smiles and says “no problem”. Hmm, we shall see.

Alex, my boss, has had the foresight to organise a hire car for me and I go to pick it up. Car hire makes a lot of sense since it means I’m on the spot and besides I don’t know Sofia at all. Parking in any case is very difficult especially for a vehicle the size of the Editourmobil, so it’s good to be able to get round town in a little runabout (and I mean little!) First thing is to find the local internet café. Not as easy as it sounds but I eventually strike lucky in a huge shopping centre where I can use the wireless network.

Later, “back at base” I’ve just about had it up to here, especially getting used to the awful traffic and the horrible behaviour of the local drivers. I was constantly being cut up, honked at and abused. It seems that this is normal behaviour here.