The morning begins cold. It is snowing and we have to cross a pass through the The morning begins cold. It is snowing and we have to cross a pass through the Mavrovo National Park and start the descent to Tetovo. A long valley leads us to the capital Skopje, where we drive directly to the Corona test center. We get the assurance to get the result within 20 hours.
The next morning we set off for Bulgaria. It is much colder than in Albania and towards evening we climb up to thousand meters where the border is. The temperature has dropped to -9°. We find a small store where we can warm up and drink tea and at some point my test results finally arrive and we can cross over to Bulgaria. There is a long descent on an icy road in biting cold and we have to pass 3 police controls. We arrive in the darkness in the city of Kyustendil, where everything is closed.
Markus leaves me the next morning. He turns here to fly back to Dresden from Sofia. My way leads me at -10°, on icy roads to Samokov, where I stay overnight. It is so cold that I drive with down jacket and everything I have. The next day starts with a small ascent and a long descent into the valley, which takes me to Plovdiv. It is depressing when everything is grey and foggy, intensified by the Bulgarian architecture. Grey, colorless buildings in socialist style. Even the landscape is monotonous. The side roads are in a miserable condition and the bigger ones are quite dangerous for cyclists because they have no hard shoulder. Reminds me very much of Russia.
After a stopover in Hamadil I finally reach the Turkish border. Here there are two crossings. The smaller one would be the right one for cyclists, but it would mean 40 kilometers of detour. I choose the big one near Edirne, which is a highway crossing. The Bulgarians let me pass, but on the Turkish side they have a problem with me riding my bike on the highway. I play stubbornly and after half an hour of discussion the problem is no more and I can pass.
I continue the 15 kilometers to the city of Edirne on the highway, which I have practically all to myself, because in Turkey there is a curfew on weekends – except for tourists and business travelers.
The streets are empty except for the dogs that chase me in every village. They try to bite my calves and I escape each time with a sprint. The few people I meet are very, very friendly. When I go out to get something to eat, I am not allowed to go in anywhere of course, I usually get a coffee as well.
I cycle a good 70 kilometers on dirt roads and at night I pass through a bigger city without any traffic. I still have 80 kilometers left to Istanbul, where I will arrive tomorrow afternoon.