the dangers of walking

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This post is about a 23km walk from Plovdiv to Stamboliyski. I have made a plan to walk to Sofia in ten days. The road is terrible.

I was notoriously bad at making decisions, but I had finally made one. In fact I had even bought a ticket. On the 1st of March I would fly from Sofia to Frankfurt. I needed to go there in order to get checked up because of my MS. Had I taken well to the medication? Was my brain still usable? We would see in Frankfurt.

the Sofia expedition

I had friends who lived near Sofia. The plan was to get to their place before the end of the month and store the Caboose there. 150km in 10 days. It seemed doable. But it meant that I would leave Plovdiv today and not tomorrow.

So I said goodbye to the hostel and to the other tourists, to the cats and to Philippopolis. Then I walked through the old town until I was among the prefab buildings again, where the streets were grey and brutalist monuments bore witness of another time.


The road out of Plovdiv turned out to be terrible. It was narrow, there was no shoulder, and the amount of traffic was crazy. Why where there so many cars on this country road if they had a perfectly fine multi-lane highway just a bit north of here? I didn’t understand it. Were people trying to evade the highway toll, or did they figure that this road was a shortcut or something?

When people ask me about the dangers of walking, I will always tell them that traffic is what I’m most worried about. It has been true from Beijing until here. The angry cops, the snakes, the dudes with guns made for good stories. But roads like this one made me feel genuinely afraid for as long as I was on them. The memorials to the people who had died on this road were a reminder to never stop being afraid.


I reached Stamboliyski by nightfall. There was a hotel and a supermarket and not much else. Some young men were hanging out in their cars in a parking lot. Booming music, cigarettes, sweatpants. There was a feeling of uneasiness in the air, and I was glad when I was back in my room.


Cat in old Plovdiv:

cat in Plovdiv old town


monument in Plovdiv

Residential street in Plovdiv:

residential street in Plovdiv


fat cat in Plovdiv

Rowing Canal Plovdiv:

Rowing Canal Plovdiv

Junk yard:

junk yard in Plovdiv

Horse carriage:

horse carriage near Plovdiv

The terrible road to walk from Plovdiv to Stamboliyski:

The terrible road to walk from Plovdiv to Stamboliyski

Memorial to Toshko near Plovdiv:

memorial to Toshko near Plovdiv


memorial near Plovdiv

Village of Yoakim Gruevo:

village of Yoakim Gruevo

Jet on display:

jet on display on the walk from Plovdiv to Stamboliyski

Sunset on the road:

sunset on the road from Plovdiv to Stamboliyski

I needed a cable tie exactly like this one to fix something on the Caboose, and then I found one on the road:

cable tie

  • Barbara

    Finding that cable tie: perfection!


  • Jordi

    Hi, Chris. Always fun reading about your adventures. Rational fear is useful, but only if you act accordingly. Would it be too difficult for you to walk avoiding roads? I imagine it would take you much longer, but it would also be safer and probably more fun (less monotonous and with more opportunities to interact with locals). Not to talk about the better air quality (a part from the obvious pollutants, roadsides are very rich in particulate matter from tires and exhaust).

    I’m nobody to give advice to anyone, and I’m not trying to be patronizing (I’m about your age). Since 2006 I’m also having my share of adventures and in one occasion it ended quite bad. Shit does happen. Now I’m more aware of things that can go wrong (and when they do sometimes there is no way of going back) and make an effort to act accordingly. At the same time it’s important to still do whatever you want to do, otherwise you become mentally old! So continue to enjoy your walks to the fullest! You are doing something really beautiful!


    • Christoph Rehage Post author

      hey jordi, thanks for your comment! yeah, i try to avoid the roads sometimes, but it can backfire pretty badly. i have a post coming up where you’ll see how bad it can get. 🙂


  • Christian

    Yoakim Gruevo is most definitely a Star Wars character name if I ever read one… 😀


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