We left the hotel at 10am. With instruction from the hotel staff and Jamaliah map reading, we had no problem finding our way out of the city and onwards to Edirne, the border with Bulgaria.
Because it is Sunday the toll road was less busy than the other day. The exit border formalities were quite straight forward. Passports and car exit stamped and then on to the Bulgarian passport/custom control. Here also we have not much of a problem. First the custom officer checked the car. As our boot is full of luggage, there is no way he can see the back of the car. Instead he pulled the back seat down in order to see what is behind all the bags. Seeing nothing interesting he lets us go. The passport control was a drive through booth. After paying car tax (5 euro) and disinfection tax (2 leva, Bulgaria currency) we are in Bulgaria. All together it took only 47 min. The road towards Plovdiv, our first stop, is mostly a 2 lane highway full of Turkish trucks which you have to continuously overtake. Before arriving at Plovdiv, we took a detour to see the Bachkovo Monastery (24 km south of Plovdiv). This monastery, which is still used as we could see by the presence of monks dressed in black robes, is the second largest in Bulgaria, founded in 1083 and well known for its original architecture.
It has 2 churches, a smaller 12th century Archangel church and the larger church of the Assumption of Our Lady (1604). There is also a former refectory with a painting of the genealogy of Jesus on the ceiling (painted between 1623 and 1643). In the “Our Lady”church quite a few devoted people were burning candles and praying. On arriving in Plovdiv, we spent some time going in circles looking for the old town (directions are written in Bulgarian, unreadable). After stopping to ask for direction, we were finally on the right track. We found a hotel to stay the night in the old city area. Meanwhile the weather had suddenly turn chilly (17 deg) and it started to rain as well. Around 6pm, with umbrellas in hand, we went outside to look around and to have our dinner. Along the way we found a bookshop that has the latest Harry Potter book in English. Rudy and Anton were of course fighting to see who got to read it first. They finally agreed that Rudy will read it in the evening while Anton reads it in the car. (And knowing how quick Anton reads, he will finish reading it before Rudy). Because of the chill and rain we did not complete the exploration of the old center and hope to do this tomorrow morning before leaving.