I decide to make the most of being up early and go across the road to get a coffee and make an early start. When I see the price and the quality and the size of the coffee I order another. This causes a bit of a mix up and I end up with three. It just seems easier to take all three and I neck em down one after the other. What happens next must to an onlooker resemble a cartoon fight when the furious ball of bodies whirrs around with various legs and arms poking out at all angles. I tear through the packing and before I know it, I'm washing some clothes in a tap and I'm off. With the extra caffeine and no sleep my plan is to ride as fast as I can for as long as I can then stop at the next town or collapse in a heap. I end up doing both at Pazardzhik. Thankfully I take refuge in a cake shop with wifi and do some computery things until I start to nap. The nap is a pretend one cos I'm wired with coffee and I go in search of food. A chips and meat kebab is ordered and I feel a bit more alive. I plod on to Plovdiv. Around 5.30 I reach the outskirts. The road here has been quite uneventful save for the vineyards. The owners (presumably) are selling grapes in huge bin bags by the side of the road. What looks to be happening is someone will come along, try the grapes, strike up a deal and buy a whole load. I'm assuming to sell on or make wine from.
Utterly exhausted and making no logical sense I decide to try and explore Plovdiv; Bulgaria's second biggest city. Then I'll get out the other side and find a camp. UTTER FAIL! After 5 minutes I ask in a hotel the cost for the night: too dear. The next one says 50lev about £22 and they show me the room. No dogs, no clubs, a big bed and for once the most important thing: a lovely bathroom. A proper shower or wash has not been had since Belgrade and my clothes could do with a proper wash too. I whip the bike and all the luggage up one flight of stairs and jump in the shower. I'm magically revived and head off into town without the bike. The receptionist has suggested a concert to go to, so after a few travellers and another kebab I find the church and take a pew (literally). Apparently the musicians are all Bulgarians who have done well for themselves getting together for a bit of a bash. It's mainly classical faves rather than Bulgarian music and whilst the setting is nice, I leave half way through in search of some gypo music. I dont find any and retire to the hotel nicely tired. Then disaster strikes. In 2 months of cycling, rabid dogs, dodgy roads, worse tracks and camping in woods, rubble, roads and rivers I give myself the worst injury so far. I cut myself on the step into the bathroom. The edging they have used is razor sharp and splits my big toe wide open, blood gushing everywhere. HOTELS ARE DANGEROUS! Dont use them:)
I mop up the blood and for the first time most of the contents of my small first aid kit are actually needed. I fall asleep watching Bulgarian folk music MTV.