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Bulgaria is a country in Eastern Europe bordering Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey, a member of the European Union but not yet the Schengen zone. It's a good country for hitchhikers since this was a common way of traveling in socialist times when few people had cars. There are hardly any roads where hitchhiking would be prohibited. Except for a few stretches of true motorway, it is possible to thumb directly on the road and stop passing cars.
Hitching is slightly easier from the east to the west or vice versa because the motorway Sofia-Plovdiv is a part of the main route from Western and Central Europe to Turkey. Hitchhiking between the north and south is somewhat slower
Quite a few drivers who would pick up hitchhikers are those who used to hitchhike themselves back in the socialist regime days. They will often feel nostalgic about the time they spent on the road, and will be happy to share their adventure stories with you, or let you tell them about your trip(s). Hitchhiking is highly popular in the summer and is so common along the seaside that you can find yourself competing with other hitchhikers. Hitchhiking is also practiced and known in Bulgarian mountainous areas, especially around the Rhodope Mountains (Rodopi, or Rodopa) where there are very few cars but the ones that drive by usually stop.
There are usually many truck drivers on this road who are willing to have some company. Do not be surprised if some of them – driving long distances between Western Europe and Turkey – ask you to take off your shoes when you are in a driver's cabin, or show you photos of their family, etc. Note that in summer, on days when the temperature goes above 35 ℃, trucks must remain at a parking place between 1300 and 2100 (to avoid damaging the asphalt). So, in July and August it is best to start hitchhiking early in the morning if you want to depend on truck traffic.
As friendly as they can be, Bulgarian drivers usually don't consider small violations of existing road regulations and speed limits in Bulgaria a big deal. Be careful and avoid standing in areas with a yellow triangle sign, with a filled black circle in the middle - these indicate places with increased concentration of road accidents and are a part of a governmental campaign to improve driving safety.
Be wary of thieves - particularly in rural areas, there are many people who see a lone hitchhiker as an opportunity to gain by foul means.
Bulgaria is probably the most corrupt country in the EU, and you are most likely to notice this at the border crossings. However, if you carry a Western passport it is quite unlikely they will bother you.
- When going towards Turkey , the most used border checkpoint is the Kapitan Andreevo-Kapıkule border crossing.
- The checkpoint near Malko Tarnovo can also be used if you're coming from Burgas, although there is significantly less traffic there, either on the Turkish and on the Bulgarian side. The border checkpoint lies in a mountainous area so be sure you either have a direct ride to a city on the other side of the border or arrive early, because it could also be hard to find a spot to put up a tent. Traffic is very scarse, but when the border police goes to or from their shift at the border they might take you. It is recommended to cross the border in a personal car, since the truck queue is usually slow, and the Turks might not like you walking around looking for another ride - especially if you do it at night. When coming from the Turkish side however, it is very easy and accepted to walk across this border - show your passport to the Turkish guards, they stamp it and you're allowed to walk into Bulgaria. On the Bulgarian side the passport controls tend to be very quickly if you're from a EU-country - they just take a look at your passport and you can go.
Tip: when taking this bordercrossing when entering Bulgaria, it might be a good idea to start walking after you've crossed it, because many people won't stop for you when you're standing just behind the border office buildings. Even a few hundred meters will enlarge your changes of getting a ride to at least the next town, which is Malko Tarnovo.There are enough options to set up a tent near this village, and there is a cheap but good hotel too, in the north-western part of the town.
- Ruse-Giurgiu border crossing, the main border crossing and the route used by trucks.
- Calafat-Vidin border crossing, a lesser-used border crossing .
- Durankulak-Vama Veche, along the Black Sea, the least-used border crossing where waiting times can be long.
- Kalotina-Dimitrovgrad border crossing, the main border crossing.
- Hitchhiking - автостоп [av-to-stop]
- Motorway - магистрала [ma-gee-stra-la]
- Petrol station - бензиностанция [ben-zee-no-stan-tsee-ya]
- Ring road - околовръстно (шосе) [o-ko-lo-vrast-no (sho-sse)]
- Map - карта [kar-ta]
- Bus stop - (автобусна) спирка [(av-to-bus-na) speer-ka]
- Hello - Здравейте [Zdra-vey-te]
- Good day - Добър ден [Do-bar den]
- Good morning - Добро утро [Do-bro oot-ro]
- Good evening - Добър вечер [Do-bar ve-cher]
- Goodbye - Довиждане [Do-vizh-da-ne]
- Bye - Чао - ciao (as in Italian)
- Thank you - Благодаря [Bla-go-da-rya]
- Thanks - Мерси - merci (as in French)
- From - от [ot]
- Towards - към [kam]
- Through - през [prez]
- (To the) left - (На) ляво [(Nah) lya-vo]
- (To the) right - (На) дясно [(Nah) dyass-no]
- Straignt on - Направо (Nah-pra-vo)
- Where are you going to? - На къде отивате? [Na kade o-tee-va-te?]
- I´m travelling to ... - Пътувам към ... [Pa-too-vam kam ...]
- Please stop here - Моля, спрете тук [Mo-lya spre-te tuk]
- A bit further - Малко по-напред [Mal-ko po na-pred]
Reading or writing signs in Cyrillic
- Благоевград - Blagoevgrad
- Бургас - Bourgas
- Варна - Varna
- Велико Търново - Veliko Tarnovo
- Видин - Vidin
- София - Sofia
- Пловдив - Plovdiv
- Русе - Russe
Car license plates can help you to figure out where the driver might be heading to. The registration code consists of two letters followed by four digits and then two more letters. The first two letters indicate the region where the car is registered. By recent regulations, the letters have been limited only to those that are found both within Cyrillic and Latin alphabet - this should make it easier for foreigners who have troubles of reading and understanding Cyrillic.
It should also be noted that this is not a 100% reliable method to get to know everything about the destination of the car, etc. It is common, for example, that cars registered in Sofia belong to people living in Burgas (or elsewhere). Also many drivers from Romania have Bulgarian licence plates as it's cheaper to register a car in Bulgaria.
- The site of BG hitch-hikers (forum, tips, etc.)
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