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driving to bulgaria

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janetla | 18:09 Mon 19th Jan 2009 | Getting there
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We are planning to drive to Bulgaria (and back again) in July. Anyone out there done this and have any advice about what to avoid, what to do etc. and how long this will realistically take - we have to very experienced drivers. We have read that it is best to avoid Serbia at all costs and take the Hungary Romania route, although the roads apparently are pretty dire in Romania - and the drivers are bit mad too apparently. Anyway, any advice gratefully received.

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Start by buying a decent European road atlas. Satnav and websites aren't as good for planning your type of route as good old-fashioned paper is.

Having said that, you'll still find this website useful. (It's by far the best site for planning European road travel):
http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/viamichelin/gbr/t pl/hme/MaHomePage.htm

ViaMichelin's recommended route from London to Sofija takes you via Serbia. The distance is 2371km (1474 miles). The total driving time is given as 23 hours 39 minutes but you'd need to add additional time for queuing for the ferry, for miscellaneous delays and for any extra time from your particular starting point in the UK. Theoretically you could do it in a couple of days, with each driver doing a total of around 7 hours driving per day but that's probably excessive on unfamiliar roads. In practice it would be better to allow 3 days but, even so, that doesn't allow for any sightseeing en route. To actually enjoy the journey (while seeing something of the countries you're passing through), you ought to allow 4 or, probably better, 5 days.

Revising the route to go via Timisoara and Craiova (thus avoiding Serbia) takes the journey length, from London to Sofija, up to 2667km (1658 miles), with the theoretical driving time totalling 28 hours 43 minutes. (3 days drive with no sightseeing, 4 days at a more leisurely rate, 5 days to really start enjoying the journey).

NB: If you're heading to the Bulgarian coast, you need to add another 5 hours or so to your journey. Sofija is 410km (255 miles) from Burgas, on the coast.

Chris
I've done this by rail not road, and what I'd say more than anything is prepare yourself for general lawlessness. You may be seen as a target for theft and the further east you go, the less effective seems the rule of law.
eg in an overnight train one bike-locks one's case to the luggage rack.
If you are driving to people you know, keep in touch by mobile phone so they know where you are and when to expect you.
It is unfair I know to dismiss an entire nation and this is not my intention, but my experience of travelling through Bulgaria and Romania was that western europeans were generally pestered by all and sundry after cash. Sorry in advance to all the nice Bulgarians and Romanians that doubtless exist.
Also, it will be very hot.
Not really an answer to your question, more about advice.

A friend of mine drove accross Spain and when he was having his lunch one day, his car was broken into and all his luggage was stolen. Due to the amount of luggage he had, it wouldn't all fit in the boot so alot of it was on show as though an invite to theives.

My piece of advice would be keep all your luggage as hidden as possible just in case.

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