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Motivation is requested....

The sun was shining when we loaded our stuff into the car in the morning and set off towards Bulgaria. Istanbul was - despite sad weather (excuse for season accepted) - a very nice city and we are excited to see it in the summer some time.
We followed the well-developed highways with their dual carriageway to the border. The weather got worse. Fog and rain accompanied us up to and beyond the border, as the weather wanted to say in FUTURE the wind will blow from a different quarter! Future - the topic we thought about for days now already and which raises as many questions as it did after our first year in Australia in 2011.

Beyond the town of Edirne we got a similar view as already seen on the Iran-Turkey border: trucks that seemingly queued from the Bosphorus to the border. Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Polish, German, Italian number plates. Who knows what else we had missed. All trucks parked there in a nice and clean row. If the drivers already prepared themselves for a joint Christmas party? We don't know. But thinking of the incredibly long queue this is perhaps not as far-fetched as one might think...

After two u-turns back because of not present signs we had crossed the border after about an hour. In the passenger car line at the entry on the Bulgarian side of the border, a Turk and a Serb driver noticed our vehicle signs and asked us if we 'really' drove all the way from Australia up to this point by car since it was hard to believe to them. 'YES! We did!' was our joyful answer.

After we had filled our tank on the Bulgarian side for 1.15 €/litre and slapped a vignette sticker on our windshield, we went to Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. The time of the two-lane roads was over now. Time to show the Pajero the higher speed ranges - unavoidable due to necessary overtaking.

Plovdiv presented itself to us as one probably would expect from Eastern Europe in late autumn: grey dirty panel buildings, hobbling old women with headscarves on the sidewalks, lots of potholes in the streets, seasonally bare trees, depression on every street corner. Even the dim lighting of the traffic lights signaled listlessness. Eastern Europe in late autumn. This is a combination that overlander usually avoid. We can't. But here we "visited" a 'Kaufland' supermarket. A store that has it all. To get the same range of products somewhere in most Asian countries, one has to run to five different addresses ... spread over three different locations.

Despite continuous rain and temperatures around 6 - 8°C we tried to motivate ourselves and visited the old town with its buildings from the 19th century as well as the the historical Roman amphitheater. It can hold up to 7,000 visitors and was originally discovered during construction work and bared afterwards.

When arrived in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, we visited the Alexander Nevski Cathedral with its golden domes, the Sveti Nikolay temple and the government district. A small Christmas market with its eight cottages on site did not bring us to linger.
In the evening the rain turned into snow, which lasted throughout the night.

Old town of Plovdiv
Amphitheater in Plovdiv
Alexander Newski cathedral
Sveti Nikolai temple
Sofia
Sofia

Due to the winter, which is arriving in most parts of Europe now, we keep it short in Eastern Europe, especially since all of these countries lie very close for a later visit.

That is why we plan to finally arrive at home, the destination of our travel, on the 20th of December.

But before we get there the visits of four other capitals lie ahead of us.