Belogradchik, Northwest Bulgaria
The name translated literally means “small white town”. Belogradchik is situated between the foothills of the Balkan Mountains and the Danube, the great European river. It was here where we decided the falling snow was too much to carry on. The visibility on the tiny worn roads was literally less than 3 meters.
With no lights other than our own, we struggled to navigate the winding road, let alone our location on the map. We were heading north from the capital to get lost, success assured.
With the idea planted to visit Lom, a small village where my new and quite good friend’s grandmother originated from, we rented the cheapest car possible from the local rental shop. It offered optimism for some of the worst possible roads still considered drivable. With the car filled with our cold weather gear we left earlier than the lazy winter sun. Within 30 minutes the snowfall began, and continued to increase in it’s ferocity as the hours passed. By night fall we were not but a 3rd of our anticipated distance due to our vehicle’s incessant 10-15 mph hockey slides through the mountain passes. Up and Down with just enough occasional sideways motion to implement a “lets park and wait this out” conversation. We pulled off on the first exit; mind you it wasn’t marked clearly and resembled a snow covered dirt driveway. We found some flashlights and situated the car in what we figured had to be a small parking lot. We appeared to be near some sort of shack with a single light, everything else was simply black and white depending on how far you took your gaze.
“our condensing breath had probably saved us from a frozen death”
We had a small portable toilet next to the shack where we stretched our legs and froze our intimate areas trying to urinate. After considering a night in the shack, we happily opted for the wagon version. We puzzled around inside the vehicle folding seats down and blowing up air mattresses. We hoped for better weather with morning, or at least we hoped for all our toes since the temperature, just before I dozed off, was a grim -6°F.
I first woke from something wet accumulating on my face and quickly realized our condensing breath had both probably saved us from a frozen death and also created a horrible pocket of air of which we were currently recycling. We arouse and puzzled through our labyrinth once more, clothed and exited. The car had transformed from a suitable vehicle into a 3-meter snowdrift over night. The wind remained forceful but the snow was now merely blowing up from the ground rather than falling from above. I set out to explore after my frigid morning pee. It was then when I realized where we were. The photo above was taken shortly after eating breakfast.
We had unknowingly managed to perch ourselves that night just in front of an old Turkish fort built into some of the most spectacular rock formations I’ve ever seen. I found the experience outstanding, unbelievable, and truly and undeniably a beautiful accident. In the moment I couldn’t do anything but stupidly say, “well there that is”. I remember now a cheesy yet completely true quote about how travel is not about the destination, but rather the distance between A and B. We understand this to some degree, but after this particular experience I find I purposely don’t over analyze things in hope that I’ll see another life changing “WTF”.
– Jacob Moginot
Jacob Moginot is a bio-science guru and traveling nomad. He is currently bunkered down in Leipzig, Germany working on bicycles. To see more of him check out the “Gloucester, MA high school yearbook of 2005”!
To submit your own adventure story, visit here!