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Road trip in Bulgaria
After my amazing time in Romania (Blogpost: 25,000 Km Europe Road Trip Part 11: Romania) it was time for country number 12 : Bulgaria! I had a short visit planned to Bucharest and after my time in the capital I wanted to cross the border at Giurgiu-Rousse Friendship Bridge.
I witnessed my first case of corruption with a customs officer, I awaited my judgement day by visiting the famous “Eyes of God” cave in the town of Lukovit and spend the night in the mountains of Sofia. Welcome to Bulgaria!
My first case of corruption with a customs officer
When crossing the border between Romania and Bulgaria, I took the well known Giurgiu-Rousse Friendship Bridge. This bridge connects the Romania with Bulgaria and you will need to pay a fee to cross, but also show proof you paid your taxes for using the Romanian roads (Rovinieta). Make sure you have a printed copy of your receipt for this one.
Once I arrived at the customs office, an officer mentoined we need to pay our fee for using the bridge. As I already was prepared, I looked up the fee cost on the internet and on the official website it stated it was € 6,-. I handed in my creditcard and he said;
“We do not accept creditcards. Cash only!”
How to play the game
I asked: “How much is it?” It might have been mistake to ask this question as I should have just handed € 6,-. Before I realized what I asked, the officer said: “It is € 13,-”
After checking my wallet I noticed I did not have € 13,- in cash. I told him that on the website mentioned only € 6,- He said: “No, these are new prices and it is € 13,-.”
When I informed him I did not have cash with me and that I would need to find a cash machine or talk to his manager, he said the magic words: “How much do you have with you then?”
I said: “Just € 6,-, sir.” He gestured with his head “ok”, accepted the money and said to drive on. That was a clear case of a customs officer trying to sell a € 6,- ticket for € 13,- and the scam not working. Therefore, make sure you always have enough cash with you. Double check the cost and don’t be afraid to address that the information they are providing is not correct.
Judgement day. Visiting the “Eyes of God” cave in Bulgaria
The cave “Eyes of God” (also known as the cave of Prohodna) is located about 10 Km. outside of Lukovit and is still one of the hidden gems of Europe together with Magura Cave. The cave is easily accessible and has a small parking space right in front of the entrance.
After a short five minute walk you will see the beautiful eye shaped holes in the ceiling of the cave, which gives (with the light coming into the cave) the effect of to large eyes watching over you. If gives you the opportunity to make some stunning pictures! There is no entry fee for the parking or the cave.
"Clash of the Titans" Maybe one of my best photos so far. Yesterday I visited a remote cave which is called "The Eyes of God". This naturalwonder can be found just 10 km outside of Lukovit. The cave has eye-shaped holes on the top side which gives the impression that a higher power is watching you. Don't you just love mother nature? #cave #god #photography #bulgaria #eyesofgod
If you are an fanatic climber, they also offer 3 different rock climbing trails inside the cave. Please inform with the local tourist information office, regarding tour packages as the climbing should be done with a supervisor.
Sleeping in the mountains of Bulgaria
After the short stop in Lukovit, we drove towards Sofia. People mentioned these amazing small boutique family hotels that are based between the mountains. Because of their unique location they provide you with a beautiful view over the skyline of the capital of Bulgaria: Sofia. I was definitely interested in staying in one of those!
We stayed at the Hotel Chairite, which was located in the Vitosha district. It offered a great an amazing view over the city and had their own restaurant. It was only a short 5 minute drive to the nearest supermarket and about 20 minutes to downtown Sofia. Overall, traveling in Bulgaria by car has been a wonderful experience.
Visiting Sofia on a Sunday afternoon
Visiting Sofia on a sunday afternoon was a very wise decision. The city is known for its heavy traffic during the weeks days. It was a good choice going on a Sunday as there was no traffic and easy parking. I just drove into the city centre without a care in the world. Finding a parking sport was easy and under 2 minutes I found one for free.
(Related: Things to do in Sofia)
It was clear that heatwave "Lucifer" had arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria. Close to 40 degrees during the day, so when I saw this beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral a visit inside to cooldown was much needed. Stunning artwork inside and I believe the whole city had the same thought as the place was full of tourist trying to escape the heath and outside it looked like a scene from the movie "I am Legend" with Will Smith. #sofia #cathedral #alexandernevsky #bulgaria
If you really want to see impressive architecture there is only one building you should visit. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is orthodox church located in the center of Sofia. This impressive masterpiece can hold up to 10,000 people and is a stunning 45 meters high!
10 thoughts on “Road Trip Bulgaria – Visiting Sofia & The Cave of Prohodna (Eyes of God)”
What a cheeky sod at the border. I would have been disgusted and probably taken his name so I could report him. Then again, it was probably just a relief to get through.
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral looks absolutely stunning. I am a big fan of architecture so would love to see inside. That border guard sounds well dodgy! I love the sound of staying in a hotel in the mountains, I bet that was a great experience
Wow, what a fantastic trip! The cheek of that customs officer though, grrrr. So its into Greece next? I look forward to reading the next part! 🙂
Road trips are oir favorite way to explore the world and yet we never thought of doing one in Bulgaria. It’s good to know that we have to check for prices online before to go, just in case! It’s true, websites are not always updated timely but then again it smells fishy, you did well in calling him out!
Yep, never ask how much. Just pay confidently and see what happens! I loved Romania, too, and would have loved to drive into Bulgaria to see Sofia. The “Eyes of God” cave looks really cool and very accurately named. Thanks for the tip about the hotels in the mountains. It seems like a good location giving the all the conveniences of admiring the countryside but still having easy access to Sofia.
Laughed at how the corrupt officer gave up on you. That cave looks creepy, loved the shot!
Fantastic post and very informative. It also great timing as I will be visiting Bulgaria next week and was looking for some recommendations. I love the tip about the hotels in the mountains. I will definitely look into that as I love a good viewpoint!
If you paid 20 eu he would have taken it and pocketed the change. I guess custom officers are the same worldwide, or at least in developing countries LOL That’s a very unique cave and it is appropriately named! Hope to visit Bulgaria one day.
Wow! What an epic journey through Bulgaria! It’s a shame that corruption like that happens. Thankfully you had the correct amount in your wallet and didn’t fall victim to the scam. I can totally see why that cave is called the Eyes of God! I’m so intrigued my that! I’ve never heard of it before!
You followed instructions, somewhat and paid accordingly. That cathedral in Sofia looks stunning, as do most o of your photos of your visit.
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