We were getting our bikes off our van before heading into town yesterday when a man walked up to us and started speaking Bulgarian to Jay. The two of them had a conversation about bike racks in Bulgarian / broken Croatian and they seemed to quite enjoy talking. I ignored him more or less and I would have forgotten about the whole thing if the same guy didn’t come to greet us again this morning.
We exchanged a few sentences about us leaving soon before he told us to hang on a second and ran inside his house. He came back with his hands full of chocolate bar, chocolate boxes and a box of lebkuchen. At first we thought he was a complete weirdo, but then we found out he in fact owns Sofia’s biggest chocolate factory! We were very happy he liked us enough to bring us gifts – especially because we forgot to buy any souvenirs at all for our friends and family (we had some jam and honey we hadn’t really eaten that we planned to give them, but chocolate was a much better gift!).
We cycled to the centre once again – we had coffee in a nice garden of a tiny self-service bar made of chipboard. After lunch in a great vegetarian restaurant, we decided it was time to head home.
While we were putting our bikes back on the van, another neighbour came up to us. He said the chocolate factory owner told him we were nice and he should come talk to us. His German was excellent due to the fact, as he explained it, that his job is dubbing porn films into German. It’s a slightly different approach to learning than the one I decided to take. He invited us to park on the same street if we ever visit again and he would take us out for a beer. We will definitely do that if we return to Sofia.
Even though our plan was initially to spend a night in Belgrade, we decided to skip it and just drive home as soon as we can. We were on the road for more than 25 days now and I was growing tired of experiencing new and unfamiliar things every day. Being constantly aware of the interesting things around you and concentrating on seeing as much as you can, started to feel very exhausting. I also missed taking long showers and spending time reading on the toilet.
We spent our last night at the Serbian petrol station. After waking up, Jay fed the family of stray dogs whole wheat cookies and we drove on. I felt at home the second we entered Croatia. Even though we had another 5 hours drive to Rijeka ahead of us, everything felt familiar and close to me.
It took us a few days to get used to sleeping in a big bed, with a ceiling high up above us. On the first night Jay woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me, completely confused and a little bit scared: What is this room? After a few days, though, we started missing travelling again and made plans to leave for a month again as soon as we can. Nine months later, in April 2011, we would be in the road again.