Day 37…

We have travelled a total of 3,717 miles since we left Loose back at the beginning of February. So many people in our community have joined us along the way and we are loving discovering new places on our journey. We can almost see Tashkent in Uzbekistan, but more of that in due course. For now we are in Bulgaria!

Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria and has been inhabited since at least 7000 BC – it is REALLY hard to imagine this number of years ago! It is one of the oldest countries in Europe and the only one not to have changed its name since its establishment in 681 AD

Sofia is surrounded by mountains:- Vitosha by the southern side, Lyulin by the western side, where we made friends with a huge herd of goats, and the Balkan Mountains by the north. It is the third highest European capital at 1,900ft, after Andorra La Vella towering high at 3,356ft, and Madrid in Spain at 2,188ft.  

The city has been described as the “triangle of religious tolerance”. This is due to the fact that three temples of three major world religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—are situated within one square! This triangle was recently expanded to a “square” and now includes the Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph. The food we enjoyed across the country was a mix of Turkish, Greek and Mediterranean – quite delicious and of course, the wine from the region is very popular back in England…Bulgarian Merlot and Cab Sav….???

We crossed the border from Bulgaria into Turkey and made our way to the narrow peninsula on which Istanbul is situated, with the sea of Marmara on one side and the Black Sea on the other. Veering north, we hugged the coast of the Black Sea enjoying frequent dips to cool off. The Black Sea is the largest landlocked body of water in the world covering 168,500 square miles! Travelling is so much about experiencing the local food of the place and oh BOY is the food great in Turkey….baklava, kebabs, mezze, Turkish delights….. HEAVEN!

Time to cross the border and leave the enormously wide (500 miles wide!) country of Turkey behind. We’re now into Georgia and journeying through its capital – Tbilisi. We decided to look into the musical traditions of Georgia as we travelled. Georgia has rich and still vibrant traditional music. It is the home of a variety of urban singing styles not all particularly familiar to the west european ear!! There is much folk music. Click here to listen to and see some! Georgian performers are well represented in the world’s leading opera troupes and concert stages.

Leaving Georgia and on into Azerbaijan, we decided to cross the Caspian Sea by ferry – a 17 hour crossing on a slightly dodgy looking vessel that sailed to no timetable but left the port at Baku “when it was ready”!

We alighted in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan and made our way due east towards the city of Turkmenabat. It is 100% pure desert and the first time so far on this trip that we are suddenly glad it is virtual trip…we can skirt over this vast area and look forward to what awaits us on the coming miles of our journey. See you in Uzbekistan!