Snowballs in Samokov

We were in Samokov. We’d arrived. There were signs saying Samokov, amongst other things, that led us to understand this. Campsites, however, there were none. There were plenty of scruffy communist apartment-blocks, some of them even with people in them. There were plenty of scruffy bars, nearly all of them with people in them. But definitely and emphatically, no campsites. We rode around for a while, stopping occasionally to stare at the little malevolent tent symbols on our Bulgaria map. They didn’t go away. Eventually we plucked up the nerve to enter a large, plush hotel with a symbol on its sign that could, if you squinted quite hard, have been meant to represent a tent, once. There was a giant fat man with a handbag in the lobby, sat amongst very cheesy 80s décor, like an authoritative walrus. He agreed with us- there was no camping in Samokov. And certainly none in his hotel. And: ‘You know ees dangerous outside? And virry cold? But I hev gud room for 50Lev? No? Ok, ok, 40Lev. No??? 30Lev…Surely leddy not want to sleev outside also? Really??’
Eventually he turned out alright, our walrus man, and told us of another hotel he owned, up the hill, were he would let us have a bit of ground outside to camp on, for free. He thought we were certifiable. Possibly he was right.
We rode back up the hill again. It got dark. We arrived to a small greeting committee- our man had phoned ahead. They were nonplussed. Flummoxed, even. Very friendly though, and they showed us maps of Borovets and helped park the bike.

We set up the tent on a spiky bit of hill out the back, and cooked our spaghetti.

The local fire brigade arrived. They brought us strawberry ice cream and wafer biscuits. They gesticulated a lot. It wasn’t that hard to understand the universal sign language for ‘mad as spring hares’.

A drunk lad from an apartment shack arrived, bringing us a saucepan full of meatballs and three-day-old cold chips, all mixed up together in tomato ketchup. We made pleased noises and surreptitiously threw it in a bush..

A small black cat arrived. It was very nearly a party.
The cat didn’t bring anything, but it did drink a lot of milk.
We spent a few days in Borovets. It was a ski-resort, complete with wooden chalets and fake rustic pubs offering Full English and Beer on Draught. There was no snow. There were no people either. A few of the hawkers on the streets didn’t seem to have noticed. We watched them. They sat for entire days behind their cheap sunglasses and Bulgaria fridge magnets and nothing happened. We wandered up to the ski-runs. We stood on the last bit of snow and threw snowballs. We went back into Samokov and watched the rain . There were ‘No Guns’ signs on the supermarket.

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