My intention is to move on today so I'm up early tucking into the free breakfast. After my third coffee I realise I've been happily chatting away for two hours. The guys at the hostel ask if I'd like to stay another night, I need little persuading. Nick, Jamie and I take the bus north to the hot springs. There we bob in the eggy waters for a few hours. My muscles relax nine weeks of tension, it feels AMAZING!! The guys are from Winchester and very easy to get on with. We head back to town and go in search of lunch. The authentic Bulgarian grub we find is abit of a let down.
I lounge away the afternoon listening to the stories of various travellers. I find a map in the hostel indicating the species of wildlife found throughout Bulgaria. I notice that wolves and bears are quite common throughout, particularly in the central/northern more mountainous regions. I ask the guy at reception if this is still the case and he informs me that it is. So it turns out what I thought were stray dogs howling were infact wolves...quite glad I didn't know at the time. I take note to be more careful with my food storage from now on. I feel a little chuffed that I've already cycled through wolf/bear country. Ignorance it appears, is indeed bliss! Though actually, I suspect the bears stay much higher up in the mountains – so I'm hardly the cycling version of “Grizzly Man”.
A mellow evening is spent much like the previous night. The only addition being some Bulgarian wine to wash down dinner. Steady drinking and chatter. Katharina and I decide to ride together for the next day or so. We are both heading in the same direction so it makes sense. We have both heard about Irakli Beach further down the coast and intend to make it our next destination. Jamie plays some Metallica on my travel guitar – extra cool points! My early night is not so early. But considering how often I'm alone in my tent, it would be foolish not to make the most of my time with new friends.