PISS 2000: Bulgaria - Epilogue
After skiing we headed into Sofia south-central to get some food. Can't remember what we ate, but I do remember seeing a huge brown bear with a ring through its nose being made to dance by some iccy gypsy type. As a young boy, I found this quite shocking, especially as the bear stood taller than the bloke who was holding it and appeared very forlorn.
Back at the hotel we packed our freshly laundered kit (thanks to the old woman), packed our stinking kit and gave/sold what we didn't need to the Bulgars. A strange generous spirit took hold of my rational mind and I gave my furry to Tzvetan and sold my knackered generator to Milanski for $15. Simon parted with some crabs and his gloves and Andy told Tzvetan not to stand on a hill holding a scaffold bar in a lightening storm. Generous to a fault as ever !
The evening meal was a delight with everyone back together drinking metres of Bulgarian beer. There was craziness with tequila, Tzvetan sipping whilst everyone else shotting and we were told that Rumen had been unlucky enough to have his van stolen on his return to Sofia. How we laughed !
Early morning exit to the airport, swapping our remaining Levs for dollars. Dan bought a few bottles of genuine Russian vodka and we all sat around desperate to escape. Once our flight had been called we wandered over the plane, but not before I was taken aside by the Bulgarian Secret Police and asked, "Where have you been, what have you been doing, how much money do you have on you, where are you going, where have you stayed, etc".
My answers must have confused them as they had no concept of caving and seemed puzzled I'd spent so long in their country and had no idea where we had gone ! Wandering across the runway (safe!) to the plane I really hoped it was a nice 767 or Airbus, but no, it was some shitty Russian tin-can-of-death, similar, but worse, than the one on the way out !
The flight was fucking dreadful, we got shit food and the cabin was filled with choking smoke fumes mixed with the smell of aviation fuel immediately after take-off. The pilot was terrible and the landing at Heathrow was definitely the most scary landing I have ever experience, actually, it was the worst any of us had experience, even Dan, who had worked on oilrigs for 2 years ! As we were circling Heathrow, bouncing around, dropping, then rising, people were wailing, praying, crying and being sick. We were relieved to get off the plane !
The trip was run by Odessia-out, a cowboy outdoor adventure company that Andy found in the Sunday Times. We flew with Balkan Bulgarian Airlines. They are NOT recommended unless you like to be very scared (pay the extra £100 for a BA flight!). Bulgaria is very very cheap. I think I only spent about £30 all week and that included ski hire, endless spunk cakes, meals out, numerous coffees and a crap Bulgarian soft-rock CD !
Bulgaria is a beautiful country, it's only a shame that the population is so intent on fucking it up !
A typical sight on our travels