People Bicycled With Us

 Jean & Jetje Bruynincks

 Guido & Yvette Roeben

2005, 2008, 2012

      Jean and Jetje from Belgium – they are one of the couples intending to arrange a tour in BG in the summer 2005: 27th August – 11th September together with us – so glad we are,  we have never met people from Belgium so far! They will be absolutely sure for this tour in the middle of April, if they survive after a tour in the mountains in Northern Thailand in March. Yes, we believe they will – look them on the photo! – both they are so well fitted, obviously they are strong bicyclists and they will be much faster than tigers living in this mountains.

        No tigers in BG, but me and Maya will try to arrange for them an exciting bike tour. The tour will include 70 – 80 km/day bicycling, nights we will stay in private homes or hotels, no primitive camp. As a beginning me and Maya will greet Jean & Jetje at the Sofia airport, after we will bicycle to our home, they will rest in it for a night, next morning we will head to . .  . I still do not know – all we will decide it together.

      This season in BG is not so warm as June and July, temperatures will be not higher than 24-28 deg C. In this time of the year we have a lot of very tasty garden vegetables (what a tasty salad I can prepare by it)  and fruits – people say that these our products are much more tastier comparing with the same in another countries, but I do not believe it.




        Yes!  Guido & Yvette  will join us! I still do not know anything about them and I have not their photo. 

Guido and Yvette ... Already I have their photo, but  I still do not know anything about them. I only can do some comparisons looking both photos  -  here the road is smooth ..... no any cactuses ..... I am sure - no any tigers .....  maybe a tail  wind ..... obviously it is a place of civilization ..... it explains the happy smiles on their faces .....  

           Well, at 27th August -  22.30 me and Maya will wait for them at Sofia airport!   


if yes - email us!

"What a trip" ! - is the subject of the short article concerning our tour Guido and Yvette sent to me after it finished,  which I interpret as "What an AMAZING trip" :)


        As we promised, me and Maya waited our bicyclists in the midnight at Sofia airport at 27th August. People were going out of the airport, only our bicyclists were late. And as it can be expected, problems with the luggage of course. A bag  (next day I understood - the most important bag) was not here. Jean decided to take the bike seats into the hand luggage, but the watchful officers in Bruxel airport recognized seats and especially seat rods as dangerous tools, so they did not permit these dangerous tools to be in the hand bag - who knows - terrorists disguised  like bicyclists !!! can you imagine!?! Well really our bicyclists were not able to hijack the plane using these heavy guns, the plain landed in Sofia successfully, but our problems several next days were really big.

      Never mind, an hour after midnight we were at home, we took quickly a little brandy and sweeties and relaxed after it. In the morning I saw the unpleasant situation we were in, an important bag with bicycle parts was missing. We quickly run to the local bike shop - we bought 2 similar bike seats and rods and using rubber after four hours struggling with the tandem and referring some kind F-words to the airport officers, all we succeeded to adjust them to the tandem ... Tired and impatient to begin with our tour, I missed an important procedure, which played its bad role on us several days later.

     We have started the tour, but 3-4 days this tandem was very inconvenient for Jean and especially for Jetje - she was really our hero those days.

      We headed to the south to visit Melnik intending that after 2-3 days coming back, to meet our seats&rods coming after us, as the officers in Sofia airport promised us. Down are three photos of these first days of our tour.

      So, first night we reached Kustendil,  second night - Kresna bicycling along the extreme scenic Struma River Gorge.

      At the third day we reached Melnik, a place I love so much. Just before the town there is 4 kilometer long hill, a little tired but happy we were in the town at 3 pm in, relaxed for an hour and visited Rojen Monastery after 2 hour walk - a scenery place, after turned back to Melnik  along very narrow track between pyramids of sands.

      It was a hard day, all we were a little tired - of first bicycling, after hiking, but after no long debates we decided with full consensus to do a triathlon this day: to the bicycling and hiking we added drinking in the evening: gin & tonic as a beginning, after a nice local type red wine and beer and if I remember well - we ended with a little brandy.



      There was a little competition - who will be the winner, obviously the answer of this question we had to find out next days. We had enough time to do it.

      Next day we were back in Kresna, where in the lodging we were 2 days ago the tandem seats were waiting for us. I felt a great relief, those days only the seats were in my mind.  Again 3 hours struggling with the tandem, but Jetje was happy.

      So we continued our tour climbing 28 kilometers to Bansko. Of course on the top of the pass there was an inexpensive nice restaurant, we relaxed in it  for a while.

      Nest 2 days we were in Bansko enjoying of the perfect local meat meals and visiting the highest part of Pirin Mountain - the peak "Vihren" - 2914 meters high.  The hike was wonderful, the weather was perfect, I would mention only that we forgot to bring with us our lunch, but the thought that we will add it to our dinner kept us in a perfect mood all the time with smiles on our faces, over more a very big bottle full of gin put in the lodging fridge providently by a member of the group was waiting for us as well.

      Next days we decided to enter in Rodopi Mountains. We visited Velingrad and Dospat placed near nice 20 kilometer long reservoir. We did a little off-road bicycling and even we had 15 minutes rain - the only raining time in our tour. We really had an incredible chance in this summer of flood in BG - only 15 minutes rain for 2 weeks!

      I love these places and Maya suggested us to visit one very remote place - the little village Trigrad near Greek border - bicycling up along long and very narrow and deep river gorge - I forgot about this nice possibility, and maybe I have to mention about the great help and support she always brought me.

      We decided that next day, bicycling down the river, we will take more photos of this amazing gorge, but God decided another. Enjoying of the scenery, nobody of us paid a serious attention of the noise  coming from the crank shaft bearing of Jean & Jetje's  tandem. And it was a little special type of bearing as I saw it latter. To break such bearing in the most remote place in the country was really a challenge. Here I remembered the procedure I missed to do in the beginning of the tour.

      Usually just before starting our tours, I and the group I guide always visit a church and a priest blesses us and our tour saying   "... and let an Angel to fly over them and keeps them all the time ...". Yes, as I have mentioned, the first day we were busy with the tandem sits, over more I saw Jean brought with him a JPS device supplying us with each kind of information - moon phases, road, relief, hills, springs, altitude, available restaurants and hotels, and on and on, even if the day is appropriate for fishing ..., having a permanent session with satellites (between 2 and 12). So I decided, that if the satellites are flying over us all the time, the necessity of some angel in this case maybe is not so imperative. Obviously the reality was quite different. When we reached Trigrad, already I knew the heavy situation we were in, which the satellites were not able to predict and prevent. A broken special bearing in the end of the world - nothing better you can  imagine. What we had to do, was the hard question.

      Of first we found beds for the night for us in a tourist home and after we decided to repeat the third part of our triathlon in the local restaurant, which really encouraged us considerably. The Next Day had to decide our problem. And yes, the decision appeared as an old green 40 year old mini military truck, and as it can be seen, we were so happy to be in it traveling to Smolyan, I hoped to find out our bearing there.  And can you guess? - we found this special bearing cassette - maybe the only one in this country.

      So leaving the mountains we headed towards the plane part of the country (bicycling 60 kilometers down the hill). We continued with the tour enjoying of the wonderful weather and nice sorts of red and white wines, visiting Plovdiv with its ancient Greek amphitheatre, as well as Hisarya with its noticeable remains of a Roman fortress.

    The tour was going to its end. Maya left us, she had to fly to Denmark to visit our friends Ulla and Birger for 3 weeks - she will put an article for this visit at Birger&Ulla page. 

      Last 2 days we spent at my home, doing 90 kilometer tour to Zemen and back, spending 2 exciting evenings in my home.  At 11th September a special van purposed for transportation of window frames and glass brought all us to Sofia airport. The tour ended, but it is still in my mind, writing all this, I return to this pleasant time and this nice company: Jean, Jetje, Guido, Yvette, Maya and me ... We wish to repeat all that ....

      In the end I would say, the company of all that people was so pleasant! Always there were so many interesting subjects to discuss, we have never felt ... how can I say ... in an empty space. All they know almost all West European languages, and really they learned several Bulgarian words !!! Amazing !!!

 Well, here is the short Guido&Yvette report concerning our tour:

        What a trip!
        The cycling trip with Maya and Bob was wonderful! Our group consisted of  2 couples, each with a tandem, and Maya and Bob with a single bike. We saw the real Bulgaria, not just the touristy places, but the real Bulgarian people, the beautiful nature, the impressive gorges, the high mountains...sightseeing and a lot more!
        Bob is an amazing guide. Taking a trip means having no problems at all: he finds a solution to every problem. He accompanies you from the moment you arrive at the airport to the moment you leave, up until the check-in at the airport. He takes care of any kind of transport when necessary. Bob is very flexible. If you think the trip is too heavy, you just have to tell him and he'll adapt the schedule right away. And while you're drinking a cup of coffee, he makes sure you have a place to stay the night. He even fixes your bike when there's a problem.
        Maya and Bob have a good sense of humor. We have never laughed so much before on any trip. It was certainly a trip to repeat, maybe in a different part of this beautiful county.
        Guido and Yvette from Belgium


        Wat een trip!
        De fietstocht met Maia en Bob was prachtig! Onze groep bestond uit 2 koppels, elk met een tandem, en Maia en Bob met een solo-fiets. We hebben het échte Bulgarije gezien, niet enkel de toeristische plaatsen, maar de typisch Bulgaarse mens, de wonderbaarlijke natuur, de
indrukwekkende gorges, de mooie typische bergen...bezienswaardigheden en nog veel meer!
        Bob is een verbazingwekkende gids. Bij hem een trip boeken betekent totaal geen zorgen of problemen: voor alles, maar dan ook voor alles, vindt hij een oplossing. Hij vergezelt je van het ogenblik dat je aankomt op het vliegveld, tot na de in-check als je terug vertrekt. Hij zorgt voor vervoer daar waar het nodig is. Bob is erg flexibel. Indien je de trip te zwaar vindt hoef je het hem gewoon maar te melden en hij past het programma direct aan. En terwijl je geniet van een tas koffie op een terrasje zorgt hij voor een slaapplaats. Hij herstelt zelfs je fiets mocht dit nodig blijken.
        Maia en Bob hebben een goed gevoel voor humor. We hebben nog nooit zoveel gelachen op een trip als deze. Het was zeker een trip om nogmaals te doen, misschien in een ander deel van dit prachtige land!.
        Guido en Yvette uit Belgie.

 And I am waiting for Jean&Jetje report :)

 HERE IT IS !!!      

       All the facts about this beautiful trip are already been told correctly by Bob, and our friends Yvette and Guido. We can only add that the Bulgarian beer was very good and the wine was excellent.

      The last 10 years we had several cycling holidays in different countries and different continents with different professional organizations.

      Now we have to say that Bob was much better than all these professional guides. He really took care of us, as if we were part of his own family.

      Thanks Bob and Maya!

       Jetje and Jean.


      Yes … the time is passing, the days slip by, and again is the time for a tour - Jean & Jetje, Guido & Yvette and me. This time Maya will be not with us – she has a tour with American couple for a week at the same time, after she has to work … her vacancy is not so big now. This time our tour will be in the north part of the country. We intend to follow Iskar River Gorge and reach the North-Western corner of the country – Vidin.

      Soon after the plain land, a van – an old Belgium ambulance - bring all us from the Sofia airport to the hotel in Sofia city. Dealing with the luggage is not easy task, as it can be seen from the photo, but Guido do it very successfully.

      And no any doubt, the first we do in Sofia was to visit a church, where a priest blesses us and our tour saying   "... and let an Angel to fly over them and keeps them all the time ...", over more, Jean do not bring with him the a JPS device this time.

     Now the tour may start - we visit a restaurant and say “hello” each other, beginning with big glasses of bear.  Next day we walk for several hours in Vitosha Mountain near Sofia visiting the highest pick in it – “Cherni Vrah” – 2290 meters altitude.

      And now the couples are in action. Jean & Jetje’s tandem is an impressive view with its trailer. I think, a sign for “long vehicle” has to be attached behind the trailer.

       Iskar River Gorge – my favorite gorge in BG – more than 100 km long, almost no traffic in it. The rocks near “Lakatnik” and “Cherepish” (the photo) are remarkable.

      The Angel flying on us and keeping us is doing his job very correctly all the time, except 2 times, when we had flat tires. Maybe He was enjoying of the beautiful scenery for a moment too.

      Rocks above Belogradchik. We walked there for 2 hours taking many photos.

Vidin town and the mediaeval castle in it. Along Danube River.

      Our Angel assured 15 sunny but maybe little hot days, so we decide to take on a train and approach higher places – the tour will progress along the north side of the Balkan (the Old Mountain) – at least the nights will be cooler.

      And I am pointing the mountains we have to cross later.

       Mountain rivers are cool and both me and Yvette do not miss to swim where it is possible.

 “Troyanski Monastery” – itshotel part we were for a night Again refreshing in “Iovkovci” Dam.
                       “Drianovski Monastery” and rocks on it. Inside the church. A view in Elena town from the hotel window.

Summer 2012

      One more bike tour in the extremely hot summer '12. Jean and Jetje landed in Burgas and we toured more than 2 weeks in the eastern part of Bulgaria - regions of Burgas and Varna. This time Guido and Yvette was not able to join us, but we do have enough time to do it all together some of next summers. Some photos of the tour are below.