3 days back in Bulgaria

On Saturday we awoke aching from the previous day of walking. Looking out at the sea we thought it worth attempting to launch and to have a go at paddling some distance, but our attempts were futile, the canoe becoming swamped as we pushed through the breaking waves. So, with that, we unloaded the gear and set about walking. We switched between carrying the canoe a few hundred meters, then returning to carry the bags and barrels to the canoe.

This laborious task continued for the entire day, but for a second attempt at paddling just before lunch. Here we found a small but sheltered harbour where we made a hundred meters in the sea before taking on lots of water, forcing us back in to land, jumping and running in on the beach.

By evening we were part way along a long beach and set up the tent in a nature reserve. We had chatted on the phone with Galin, an experienced sea kayaker in the area, and arranged to meet him the next day to discuss the conditions. But as dawn came we found the sea was amazingly calm and, managing to get through tiny waves, we made it onto the water and began to paddle.

In total we managed just under three hours of good sea paddling but, as the morning wind rose, the waves began to roll and we landed in a small beach for protection. A man taking photos of us turned out to be Galin himself so we set about chatting with him and talking through our predicament. The sea, for him in his kayak, was fine in the current weather, yet for us, in the open canoe designed for rivers, it just wasn't possible. Going over the map he pointed out that the next long section was high cliffs and rocky coastline with few places to land the canoe. Given the forecast, which we checked on his laptop, resting on the boot of the car, it was unsafe to canoe the next part. For our canoe on the sea, landing options are vital and steep cliff faces aren't exactly great for that. Sadly, very sadly indeed, this meant it was back to walking.

So we left the waves of the sea behind us, left excess cooking gas with Gallin, strapped the wheels onto our canoe, and began walking along the road, bags on backs, barrels in hand. We walked for the rest of the morning and all afternoon. We were stopped twice by border police, first to check our passports, second when they decided it would also be good to check our boat docs. We stopped again for another chat with Galin, who was passing on his way home. We stopped a few more times to repair the wheel that repeatedly fell off. And we stopped, finally, back by the coast on top of a cliff. Here we set up the tent, cooked dinner and took pretty pictures. Then we slept.

And that brings us to this morning where we left our cliff-top perch and got back on the road. It was another day of painstaking walking with straight coastal roads that seemed to go on for ever. Apart from lunch in a village square, the only break to the day was the, now mandatory, police check. The old bill pulled in and looked in our passports, asked a few questions, then wished us luck... It would be strange now to have a day without them.

By evening we had made it to Karvana and met again with Galin who directed us to his house. We bumped into another police car on the way, who pulled in to ask questions, but Galin chatted to them and after a while they lost interest in us for long enough to allow us to reach the house and put down the canoe.

So here we are, in Kavarna, after a week that has seen a painful amount of canoe dragging and more encounters with the PoPo then you can shake a baton at. Tonight we are staying in Galin's guesthouse and for that we are extremely grateful. It is cosy, warm and we can shower and sleep in beds for once.

Shattered but sheltered, just how any expedition week should end.