Exploring Bulgaria

We started day 131 behind a sandy dune and found the sea calm enough to launch from the beach. The water was not flat and the wind was not still but it was manageable and we spent the morning making progress into a headwind. A pattern formed of paddling along beaches, decorated with deserted summer resorts, before moving out and canoeing around difficult headlands.

These bays and headlands meant we gained confidence in the protected beach, before taking on headlands that forced us far out into the sea to avoid breaking waves that crashed on the rocky point. After a nervy time going around the cliff we'd be back in a bay and bob along the beach front to the next point in the distance.

By 3pm, and after lunch on the steps of a hotel patio, we had made it to a beach that ran along to Cape Emine a headland much larger than those before. We had been warned about it earlier in the week (tall, cliffy, nowhere to pull in) but with the weather good we pondered over whether to take on the challenge or not. We looked at the map, we looked at the satellite images and we searches its name on google for photos. With our google search bringing it up as 'Bulgaria's stormiest cape' we decided it not worth the risk and took a less favorable option, walking.

So the next day began half way up a hill that had been an arduous climb and drag to get too. We packed away our camp and set off across the cape, climbing and climbing, hauling the canoe up a farm track that led to the cape's crest, a peak 382m above sea level. It was not a nice walk, not like walking the dog up a steep hill, more like trying to drag a small boat up one.

Eventually we came to a confusing cross roads and found ourselves in Emona, a tiny village on the cape just bellow the summit. We stuck our heads in the most rural cafe imagineable and tried to ask for directions to the town where we were headed. We waited, drinking free coffee and smoking second-hand smoke, for Nayden to arrive who spoke good English and helped us with our problem. He led us down one of the many country tracks and told us where to go. So off we went. We clattered down the hill, the canoe stumbling along on its tiny wheels, and followed a network of tracks to a stony beach and a dead end, not our destination.

After all the downhill trundling we could not go back and take another route, but the cliffs around the beach, along with a thick mist, meant it was still too dangerous to launch. So with that we began a tedious afternoon. We walked, relaying between the bags/barrels and the canoe, along the large rocks that sat beneath the cliffs and progress was slower than ever before. Every step required a lot of concentration and by the end of the day we were both shattered and I was feeling extremely faint. It didn't help that we were running a little low on water.

Having left the bags at a good camp spot and walked back along the bottom of the cliffs for the canoe, we spotted some people by our stuff. Canoe dropped, running across the rocks, we got back to the bags and moved them away from the perfectly pleasant locals having a picnic. Short scare. Panic over. We walked back over the stones to the canoe. We like to keep our stuff safe.

Having eventually camped at a dip in the cliffs, we awoke this morning to decent weather. Just as the day before, it was canoeable, but just as the day before we had nowhere to launch. After half an hours walking we found a sandy spot and got out onto the sea which was calm and good. We paddled all day, stopping to buy more food and refill our water bottles in a nice cafe.

We enjoyed a brief adrenaline rush at lunchtime when we surfed in to land on the beach. From about 30 meters out we perched atop a sizable wave, surfing, with Nathan in the front of the boat sticking out far above the water. I had control in the back with my every move altering our direction. We jumped out on the shore buzzing and talking quickly. Along with our hair dos, we are now proper surfers.

Not only was the sea good, and in certain spots quite picturesque, but we were able to cut across a couple of large bays and walk 50m across a point that could have taken over an hour to get round. So by the end of it all our distance has been sizeable, something much needed today since yesterday was, distance-wise, fairly diabolical.

So three more days passed with good distance on the water sandwiching a painful day of walking in the middle. Tonight we are camping in some trees wedged between the sea and a lake. Tomorrow we hope to be back out at sea.