The day started with us finishing the descent from yesterday down into the outskirts of the city Gotse Delchev. We were very near the the border with Greece now and infant a lot of people we had come across (the fisherman from yesterday, the shopkeeper we bought our bread from this morning) had been asking us if that’s where we were headed to Greece, it was only 50km away from Gotse Delchev.
We weren’t heading for Greece though, we were heading for Istanbul so we took the turn off East instead of South and started climbing again. We rode up some hills, through small villages and passed by horse drawn carts and the back into the mountains.
Here the road was lined for a couple of kilometres with numerous masons breaking up sandstone into tiles of somewhat equal dimension and then packed them onto pallets in perfect cubes. Loads of pallets lined the road, waiting to be picked up, and most of the masons gave us a friendly wave as we passed by.
At lunch we came into the town of Satovcha, a nice sleepy little place with a busy square. We went up to one of the cafes to get some food. Of course we had a bit of trouble communicating with our waitress but a gregarious Bulgarian with a big grin on his face came over and helped us out with translating.
When it came time to pay our friendly translator had left, but another guy came by and helped us out, and even left a little note saying the waitress had his number if we needed any help. What a guy.
There was a lot of climbing after lunch but it was really nice, now that we were up in the mountains we were riding along the peaks and through the shallow valleys that separated them. Sometimes the trees had been cleared for agriculture giving as a great view, other times we rode through thick forest on either side. We rode along, going up and down most of the rest of the day until we finally made the last steep descent into a gorge.