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Athens – Thessaloniki – Promachonas (Kulata) – Zlatna Panega – Russe (Giurgiu) – Bucureşti

Trip Details

Road Trip 2007 II
Date:
Fri, 06/07/2007 to Sat, 07/07/2007
Bulgaria, Greece, Romania
Distance: 1240 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Ploumisti
Photographers: Manolis, Ploumisti
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Ploumisti
Map: Trip map
Photographs: Link

Sightseeing map

July 2007... Our plans this year include a travelling destination different from the previous ones: Balkans and precisely Romania.

I’ve been studying in Bucharest for six years. Back then I was not a rider. From the moment I started riding, Romania has been always in my mind as an exceptional travelling destination. I don’t know the reason why... perhaps I was willing to see the country from a different point of view, to visit places I didn’t during my studying ages, or to see the changes and evolution of the country throughout the past years…But maybe I was constantly looking for a reason to return there, were I had “the time of my life”…despite all difficulties… 

Manolis, Ploumisti and Vangelis traversed, during the 17 days of our travel, a total number of 4.700 kilometres, 2.300 of which inside Romania.

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I left Athens with Ploumisti on Friday afternoon (06-07-2007) to Thessalonica, where we would spend the first night. Our plan was to cross Bulgaria during the day. This is what I used to do as a student…force of habit! Back then, when passing trough Bulgaria by car I had heard enough rumours and stories about false police officers who where stealing foreigners. Nothing had happened to me personally nor to friends and people close to me. Nevertheless there is always the possibility to be fined even if you haven’t broken the low. Bargaining with policemen usually for the speeding ticket you can get away paying only 10 to 20 euros.

Around nine o’clock on Saturday morning (07-07-2007) we were having coffee at the coastal road of Thessalonica gazing the gulf of Thermaikos and the White Tower. We left at 10.30pm with destination the Promachonas customs, 130 north-east. The road despite all works of conservation and dilatation is in good condition. Following the signs for Serres, Bulgaria and Rampant, we reached the frontier station around 12.00. Because of the fact that Bulgaria and Romania are part of the European Union now the procedures of entrance are shortened enough, but still you have to demonstrate the following documents: passport, driving licence and the green card of the vehicle.

There is a certain tax for cars and trucks to enter Bulgaria and use the national road network. Fortunately we didn’t have to pay for the motorcycles and we continued following the sings for Sofia. The national road is narrow, the asphalt is of fine quality and the scenery is very beautiful. One can enjoy riding there! It passes trough many villages where you could smell roasted meat from the local tavern’s and read signs in Greek, proof of Greek-Bulgarian mixture. Mixture is reality in confines! We continued covering roughly 180 km up to the capital Sofia. Following henceforth the signs for Russe - Varna we entered Sofia’s ring where we had a short brake for coffee and fuels.

Bulgaria’ s currency is leva (1Euro=1,9Leva approximately). If you haven’t exchanged money in advance you can use euro in petrol stations, but with a very bad equivalence for your pocket, or use your visa and credit card. You have to keep in mind that to pass Bulgaria you have to cover 550km and for the moment the price of petrol is lower than Greece and Romania. After the ring we rode 80km of European standards motorway, crossing the north-eastern mountains of the capital. The route was full of tunnels and tall bridges in a green massif background…

10 to15 km after the end of the motorway following the left direction to Russe you can find Zl. Panega. We stopped at the village’s restaurant which is well known by everyone traveling from Romania to Greece and backwards. It is clean, with good food, service and prices. The waitresses speak Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian! We ordered for steak salad and French fries in Greek and we paid 5euros each!

Around 6mm. we left for the final monotonous 200km up to Russe next to the Bulgarian-Romanian borders. This feeling was maybe due to our impatience in arriving to Bucharest and the excessive heat... The road is in good relatively situation but narrow. Be careful not to loose the point where you have to turn right after you pass under a bridge, little before the Pleven. There is labelling, but it needs attention. At 8.30mm we reached in Bulgarian borders. Again we had to demonstrate our documents and head to the natural border between Bulgaria and Romania… the river Danube! Still it was difficult to believe that I would find myself there with my motorcycle! Certain moments I felt that I had dreamt this scene...

We crossed the iron bridge enjoying the landscape and stepped on Rumanian territory. It was sunset! I felt so familiar…I felt home! Finally this was the last control. We spend some time with the frontier officer, whose curiosity about the video camera that I had set up in the wheel of my motorcycle made him open an interesting conversation with us. He informed us that we don't have to pay the Vienetta for our motorcycles. Vienetta is the tax for using the road network and it is provided from petrol stations.

The currency of Romania is Ron (1 Euro = 3.1 Ron approximately). Before some time the Romanian state replace the old Lei currency by removing the 4 last zeros. So the 10.000 Lei banknote became 1 Ron. So RON is the new currency. Many are the Romanians that speak still with the old equivalence, because of habit. Don't be shocked if you are asked ten thousands instead of one for a bottle of water! You can exchange money in Exchange Offices without supply. You can also withdraw Ron from ATMs or pay with visas and credit cards.

The distance separating the capital Bucharest from the borders is 65km. It’s a strange mixture between motorway and provincial road. Even if it seems like autobahn, it passes trough villages! Someone has to be really careful taking in account the red lights and all carts authorized to use the roads since they have licence plates.

At 9.30mm we arrived in the central square of Bucharest Unirea. Nearby there was a hostel where we had made a reservation. Unfortunately, or I should say fortunately, due to an error of the employee in charge we couldn't spent the night. The hostel was complete!!! After an adventurous itinerancy we ended up at the Lucky House Hostel (tel. + 4.0722 500366, 40 Ron per person in a four-bedroom).

Finally the name of the hostel suited 100% in our case!!! It provided us protected space for our motorcycles, it was very clean and their householders Doru and Dana - as they were to be proved later - were very friendly, hospitable and extraordinary persons! We arranged our stuff, we took a shower and we went out for a night walk in the central streets of Bucharest. I gave a mini tour to Ploumisti and we ate something. How much things have changed from the last time where I visited the city...

Whatever I was looking was bringing up memories and feelings from the past, guiding me in a strange sentimental game… We are welcomed, therefore, in Romania...