Be careful what you ask for!
During our tour of Bulgaria we had really struggled to find camp-sites. We had seen loads of them marked on our map, but had been met with a mixture of truck-stops, seedy cabins and run-down facilities. The exceptions seemed to be those campsites run by English people, such as the excellent Camping Veliko Tarnovo.
It was here that we learned why this was. It seems that back in the Soviet era, when travel between district was only permitted with the correct paperwork, not many people travelled within Bulgaria. So that the workers could have holidays, a series of holiday villages were established. These had small chalets, places to pitch a few tents and some basic facilities, and were well used.
After Bulgaria gained its independence from Russia, unemployment soared, prices rocketed and people generally had less income to spend on luxuries like holidays. These camp-sites, or “Komping”, if you look it up in your phrase book, fell into disuse, except as a place to take your escort for an hour’s entertainment.
Now this all made sense; the poor conditions, chalets rented by the hour, the cars coming and going in the night, and the funny looks we’d got from villagers when we’d asked about where we can go camping. They’d presumably thought that Julie was my floozie, and we want a ‘bit of privacy’!
So camping in Bulgaria covers not just tents, but also caravans and chalets. All three are covered by the same word.
Nick, at Camping VT, said this is one reason they don’t have chalets; it attracts the wrong sort of crowd! Not that all Bulgarian camp-sites are like that; I’m sure that there are many proper camp-sites around Bulgaria, but it just makes it worthwhile checking before-hand to see what sort of facilities they have, and don’t rely on being able to ask for camping, folk will get the wrong impression!