Today is the official opening of the moto season in Bulgaria. As the tradition goes: hundreds of bike riders wake their rides from the winter sleep, shake the dust off their helmets and gather near the Aleksander Nevski Catedhdral under the sounds of good old rock music. The end of March is a tricky weather period, but more or less: warm days and opportunities for bike trips lie ahead.
Reasons to try travelling on a motor bike
In case you haven’t tried it: riding a motor bike (or in my case: riding at the back of the bike) is one of the most exciting, refreshing and fun ways to travel. Yes, you don’t have the comfy car seats and all the space you are used to: but there are tons of other perks:
1.You get immersed in the view
Travelling on a bike is like seeing your trip through a pair of new eyes. Of course, you pass through the same route, see the same things, but you experience them in a much more exciting and direct way. The noises, the smell of the fields, forests, wet earth or asphalt bring new nuances to the view.
You can’t get distracted by small talk or music, so you really immerse yourself in what’s going on around you: the road, the people, the places. It gets extra exciting when it starts to rain, but that is another topic.
My mom is probably going to kill me: but quite a few photos in this post were taken while I was riding at the back of the bike. Granted: my boyfriend is a very careful driver and one of my hands is holding him, I have a neck strap for my camera and I take the shot in Sports mode as quickly as possible, after which I turn everything off and hold on again to the driver.
2.You travel light. Really light
If you are one of those minimalist travelers who like to carry only the essentials and leave the clutter behind- good for you. Travelling on a bike is going to take this to a whole new level, trust me.
On our first major trip, Stef and I went across the country for about a week (roughly 1000km with the additional sidetracking for photos and sightseeing) and all of our stuff had two fit in two small backpacks (the photo above).
The upside of the story is that it was summer so it was easy to pack light, the downside: even if you really want to get a bigger backpack you can’t because: a) it gets really heavy to carry for the person on whose back it is (cough-cough), especially after the second hour b) it is a really bad idea to have something heavy which extends over the head of the back passanger because it messes with the movement of the bike when it gets windy.
So: pack good mood, toothbrushes, toiletries, camera, chargers, headphones (boy, you will need the music), small medic aid box just in case and the bare essentials of clothing and there you go! Light as a feather (and flying on the highway).
Sidenote: Bulgaria is a fantastic choice for motor bike travel because the roundtrip from the capital Sofia to the sea coast is about 900km (about 450km in each direction) along which you get mountains, plains, valleys, rivers, lakes, national parks, historical sights and picturesque views: as you can see from some of the photos I’ve included
3.You are extra mobile
There is hardly any traffic jam for you, when you are on two wheels.
And trust me: this can be important even outside city centers. The road to the Bulgaria-Greece border crossing at Kulata is terribly narrow and almost always congested with nightmarish traffic which can sometimes get your car stuck for hours on end. On a bike: last summer we made it from Sofia to the Greek town of Paralia (about 300 km) in just a few hours.
4. You can Chill & Try Something new
Travelling on a bike really is a great option to get outside standard tourist routines. You get to:
- plan and replan routes so that you can see more picturesque roads (bike riders love road turns, especially if they involve impossible curvature and mountain elevation)
- do some problem solving (How on Earth can we fit everything in this backpack?)
- learn to enjoy the view, improvise and always get a plan B
- free your thoughts: I am not a rider myself, but travelling at the back definitely leaves you some time on your own: to enjoy the road, think, plan or simply: leave all thoughts out and chill
5.Some gorgeous places to visit during your motorbike trip in Bulgaria
There were neolithic settlements on the site of the Ancient city of Philippopolis as far back as 6000BC. Nowadays, Plovdiv is worth seeing not only because of its long and interesting history but because its modern, hip and creative vibe has turned it into a European capital of culture 2019.
Still managing to stay away from the commercial hype, it is one of the nicest places on the Bulgarian Sea coast. You won’t find crazy party life, big hotels or tourist venues: that is exactly why travelers still love it: it is calm, pretty, and irresistibly off the crowded tourist map.
The capital of the First Bulgarian Empire: if you are into history and archaeology you would definitely appreciate its visual charm and historical importance
The capital of the SecondBulgarian Empire, Tarnovo is full of history and breathtakingly beautiful city with lovely local people, gorgeous architecture, museums and landmarks.
The travertine terraces you see are formed by precipitate carbonate minerals which preserve the crispy aquamarine color of the water. The waterfalls are a gorgeous sight and are among the prettiest examples of the local nature.