#5 Dernière étape en Europe : la Bulgarie

Après une semaine à Belgrade, il est temps de reprendre la route direction Sofia, capitale de la Bulgarie. Le plus difficile avec l’autostop est toujours de sortir des grandes villes. Une fois sur l’autoroute, la majorité des voitures parcourent de longues distances et il est assez facile de se faire avancer de quelques centaines de kilomètres par véhicule. Mon départ de Belgrade n’échappe pas à la règle. Il me faut un peu plus de deux heures pour atteindre la première station service sur l’autoroute, puis je trouve rapidement une voiture qui accepte de m’emmener jusqu’à Sofia, quelques 400 kilomètres plus loin.

Mes bienfaiteurs sont aujourd’hui un couple bulgare d’une cinquantaine d’années originaire d’une petite ville près de Sofia. Ils me disent se faire une joie de m’emmener jusqu’à la capitale, mais ne souhaitent pas qu’on traverse la frontière ensemble, sans doute par crainte que je transporte quelque marchandise illégale. Pas de problème, on se connaît à peine après tout. Je descends de la voiture un kilomètre avant le contrôle des passeports et la douane et nous nous donnons rendez-vous à la première station essence après le poste frontière.

Il y a cependant un malentendu. Je passe devant une première station essence, n’y prête guère attention car elle est hors service, et vais jusqu’à la suivante en état de marche pour les attendre. J’y patiente près de 1h30 et finis par conclure qu’ils sont partis sans moi. Déçu, je marche le long de la route avec une petite pancarte sur laquelle j’ai écrit SOFIA. Il commence à faire sombre et mes recherches de véhicules n’aboutissent pas, jusqu’à ce qu’une voiture ralentisse et s’arrête à mon niveau. Je reconnais tout de suite Dimi et son mari Zhenko ! Ravi, je monte dans la voiture et ils m’expliquent qu’ils m’ont attendu pendant une heure et demie à la première station, celle qui était hors service où je ne me suis pas arrêté… Peu importe, je suis soulagé de ne pas avoir à planter ma tente ce soir. Ils me déposent dans le centre ville et je peux me rendre dans une auberge de jeunesse. J’y ai réservé un lit pour 8 nuits car j’ai besoin d’une adresse où me faire livrer tout l’équipement que j’ai du racheter suite au vol de mes affaires en Slovénie.

L’arrivée en Bulgarie marque un bref retour dans l’Union européenne et par la même une légère hausse des prix par rapport à la Serbie due au phénomène d’uniformisation au sein du marché unique.

Les orthodoxes sont ici également majoritaires, bien que de manière moins significative qu’en Serbie. Sofia abrite la cathédrale Alexandre Nevski, une des plus vastes de la péninsule balkanique. A vue d’œil, elle semble avoisiner la taille de la cathédrale Saint-Sava de Belgrade, mais elle se révèle d’autant plus splendide avec ses coupoles dorées et ses innombrables ornementations.

En Bulgarie, seul l’alphabet cyrillique est utilisé : impossible de se reposer sur les panneaux bilingues comme en Serbie. Je m’affaire donc à mémoriser les différents signes qui le composent. Le couple bulgare qui m’a déposé à Sofia m’a offert une carte de la Bulgarie où les villes sont inscrites en cyrillique. Je les compare avec la carte de mon téléphone où les noms sont en latin pour apprendre les différents sons. Au bout d’une dizaine de jours en Bulgarie, je pense pouvoir déchiffrer près de la moitié des 30 lettres.

Sofia est une capitale agréable, propre et calme. Étonnement calme. Certains quartiers semblent en effet presque vides, et ce même un samedi après-midi ! Kristian, un bulgare qui travaille à mon auberge m’explique que de nombreux locaux fuient la capitale et sa chaleur torride estivale pour retrouver un peu de fraîcheur sur la côte de la Mer Noire.

Petite singularité culturelle pour le moins amusante, les bulgares hochent la tête de gauche à droite pour dire « oui » et de haut en bas pour dire « non » ; de quoi prêter à confusion !

Je suis ravi de récupérer un appareil photo et peux me remettre à un de mes passe-temps favoris : la photo de rue, en parcourant la capitale bulgare à la recherche de la beauté éphémère des moments du quotidien.

La semaine passée à Sofia est riche en rencontres aussi bien d’autres voyageurs que de locaux. Je pensais tout d’abord me rendre directement à Istanbul après Sofia, mais plusieurs personnes m’ont recommandé de faire un arrêt à Plovdiv, deuxième plus grande ville de la Bulgarie. Je trouve une voiture sans problème qui peut m’y déposer. Ma conductrice a gagné la version bulgare du concours de chant télévisé X-Factor. Une vraie célébrité locale, improbable ! Une halte de deux nuits s’impose le temps d’explorer la vieille ville. Plovdiv vaut en effet le détour. Ville d’une richesse historique et architecturale incroyable, on y trouve de nombreux sites archéologiques et surtout les vestiges très bien conservés d’un théâtre romain construit au IIème siècle de notre ère. A tout cela s’ajoutent bâtisses thraces, bulgares et ottomanes qui donnent à la ville un caractère unique, hétéroclite et à la fois harmonieux.

Dix jours en Bulgarie étaient sans aucun doute trop peu ! Mais pour le moment, je me prépare pour la Turquie. Je brûle d’impatience d’aller à Istanbul où j’ai trouvé un petit boulot dans une auberge de jeunesse. Dernière étape avant la mégalopole eurasiatique : un arrêt de deux jours à Edirne, petite ville limitrophe de la Bulgarie et de la Grèce jadis capitale de l’Empire ottoman.

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