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J147 - Friday, March 12: Dolno Kamartsi - Karnare

76 .08km – 10H38’
Altitude: 512m

To cross a Balkan mountain or not to cross?  That is the question!

A bit of feedback: Yesterday evening at 7:00 when the dream team: Bertrand, René and Serge arrive they say « Laure, you have a flat tire”.  What a nightmare!!! Now the three musketeers are going to have to work overtime to change the tire, and it’s the “tank’s” tire to boot!  During that time my d’Artagnan is taking his shower, happy to have saved the day because at 11:30 AM, when we were still in Sofia, he didn’t think he would do more than 30 km.

Second feedback: Dominique, a French expat who has been living in Sofia for 5 years, missed us yesterday, but after reading my log, he supplied the following information:  Normally traffic in Sofia is rather heavy but when there is a lot of snow, the inhabitants avoid taking their cars.  The average salary of a Bulgarian university professor is about 250€ and a laborer is paid 0.6 € per hour.

This morning Daniel leaves with Laurent, our new cameraman, and Serge of course, to the starting point, while the rest of the team looks for a garage to repair the spare tire, but with no luck.  Without wasting time we head for Zlatitsa, the village where I thought to cross the famous backbone, of the Balkan mountain chain (also called Stara Planina), which runs the whole width of the country from west to east for 550 km.  But Serge understood everything and yesterday he had a look at the map.  He knows there are other roads that will take us north over the mountain.  He doesn’t want to leave the N6, which he likes, and we have to take a decision right now.  Serge is a km35.
René and I go to reconnoiter the mountain pass and the road is rather broken up and narrow so driving the camper becomes real sport, i.e., rodeo, but we think that if it doesn’t snow while we are there we can make it.  Beyond the pass lies the unknown.  So after consulting the whole team as to the advantages and disadvantages, and watching the clouds form over the mountains, we continue along the N6.  We are playing safe and for Serge it is peace of mind.  Serge arrives at the van all happy because he found a horse shoe and intends to keep it in the van for good luck, he’s back to believing in charms.
After Zlatitsa, the N6 is superb, no holes, no patches, it’s the first time we have seen this in Bulgaria.  After the pass at an altitude of 1,116 m at km56, with big snowflakes falling on a beautiful road, Serge finishes a great stage.  He tells me his knee still hurts but he is limping and frowning less today than he was the last three days.
Thanks go to Bertrand for the beautiful photos which you have been seeing every day.  He is the most productive of all of us.  I have to say that he has a beautiful camera!

Town : Karnare

GPS : N 42.42105° E 024.36422°