Grasslands of Dionysus
Guided Leisure Bicycle Tour On Flat Ground In Ancient Coastal Dobrudja
Cycle on the mild trails of the "golden" Dobruja Plateau and explore its diverse Black Sea coast, visiting impressive ancient sanctuaries, picturesque towns and resorts, discovering fabulous bird paradise sites. Admire the summer palaces of the Balkan royal families and the 6500-year-old golden treasure of Varna necropolis.
|Cycling Tour:||GRASSLANDS OF DIONYSUS|
|LENGTH:||359 km (223 miles)|
|NIGHTS:||8 nights + 1 bonus|
|LOWEST POINT:||0 m (0 feet)|
|HIGHEST POINT:||360 m (1181 feet)|
Day 1 Arrival
Arrival and transfer to the hotel. We have tour details and safety instructions meeting. Take a short walking or cycling round trip.
Day 2 Cycling from Nikolaevka to Dolishte (distance 50 km; elevation +160m/-270m)
Our bike tour begins on the excellent greenways of the upper southern Dobruja Plateau. We pedal along the ridge of the plateau taking wonderful panoramic views all around. In the afternoon we follow the weaving great downhill to the woody valley of Batova River which is an important Natura 2000 Site. Our final destination is The Three Watermills, an old mill converted to a hotel situated in a thick forest.
Day 3 Cycling from Dolishte to Dobrich (distance 38 km; elevation +340m/-310m)
This is the most difficult day of the tour which starts with a long uphill followed by cycling on a flat ground taking the gently rolling fields of Dobruja Plateau. Stop to see the distant St Marina Monastery located among the steppes. Bike on perfect dirt roads for a while enjoying the typical landscape with alternating pastures, fields, woods and vineyards. Finally we reach the city of Dobrich which is a center of Bulgarian Dobruja with interesting renaissance quarter and very good traditional restaurants representing the rich rural cuisine.
Day 4 Cycling from Dobrich to Krapetz (distance 73 km; elevation +100m/-300m)
The tour continues among endless cornfields and scattered steppes slightly going down toward the Black Sea. The trail includes cycling in Chairya steppe area, a Natura 2000 site. At lunch we have a traditional Dobruja shepherds’ picnic. At the end of the day we will reach the seaside village of Krapetz.
Day 5 Cycling from Krapetz to Shabla (distance 59 km; elevation +130m/-130m)
Ride along the seashore and around the lake of Durankulak. The lake is a wonderful place for bird-watching as it is an important ornithological area along Via Pontica Flyway of migrating birds. There are two islands in the lake. On the one of the islands there is an extraordinary archeological site dating back to the 5th millennium B.C. with Cybele Sanctuary. Crossing the border with Romania we have a lunch in Vama Veche, the southernmost Romanian settlement on the Black Sea. The village is renowned for its eco-friendly infrastructure and as a green and non-mainstream tourist destination. Optional biking could take us to the neighboring Lipovan village of 2 Mai to see a Russian Orthodox Old Rite church there and Limanu Cave. In the afternoon cycle back to Bulgarian town of Shabla passing by the marshy lakes of Ezerets and Shabla. We spend the night in luxury bungalows nearby the coast.
Day 6 Cycling from Shabla Tuzla to Bulgarevo (distance 43 km; elevation +260m/-180m)
This day offers the opportunity to discover the cliff area of the southern Dobruja shore. After we pass by the lighthouse of Shabla dating back to 18th century, the trip goes along the cliffs of Tyulenovo and Kamen Bryag. In the forenoon visit the national archeological reserve Yaylata. Spectacular cliff terraces with carved in the rock sanctuaries, grave holes and refuge places. Optionally we could stop at Tauk Liman (Bird’s Lagoon), a place closed between the high cliffs and the thin sandy shore with small rocky islands. Ride continues on the flat grasslands to the deep coastal canyon Bolata enclosed by high red cliffs. A strong ascent is followed by a long descent to the awesome cape of Kaliakra. Explore the imposing 70 meter-high rocky cape located 2 km deep into the sea with ruins of antique and medieval fortresses on it. Pedal the steppe trail to the village of Bulgarevo, the strongest Gagauz minority settlement in Bulgaria with beautiful old church.
Day 7 Cycling from Bulgarevo to Albena (distance 35 km; elevation +220m/-300m)
Leave Bulgarevo and soon enter the town of Kavarna which is a very pleasant and charming place with a lot of history. We make a tour to see the old Ottoman part with baths, church, mosque and other buildings. Then ride to the cape of Chirakman where once there was the predecessor of Kavarna, the ancient colony of Bizone, which fell in the sea after an earthquake in the Antiquity. Ride downhill the plateau and follow the shoreline. Here the cliff area of Dobruja finishes and the terrain on the slope becomes hilly with spectacular views. Soon enter Balchik. A major tourist attraction of Dobrudja, the town rises in tiers from the coast. Balchik is ancestor of the Hellenistic DIONYSOPOLIS. Be careful not to miss the exclusively rare temple of Kybele with a lot of marble statues. The town still keeps the Mediterranean spirit with its architecture of white Balchik limestone, renowned in Ottoman times. See the summer palace of Queen Mary of Romania and the Botanical Garden which is a real jewel in southeastern Europe. Leaving Balchik we cycle on a picturesque coastal road to Albena seaside resort. We spend the night here and catch a glimpse of the mouth of Batova River and the fabulous riverine forest just opposite the resort.
Day 8 Cycling from Albena to Euxinograd (distance 33 km; elevation +280m/-240m)
First we cross Baltata natural reserve and stop en route in Varna Winery for tasting some special local white and rose wines. Ride along the coastal slope of Franga Plateau, passing by a chain of seaside resorts and using their pleasant bike paths. Visit the Renaissance Orthodox monastery Sts Constantine and Helen and then make a trip in Sofia University Botanical Garden. Cycle on the main road for a while and be welcomed at the imposing Euxinograd Palace and park, a summer place of the Bulgarian kings, built in neoclassical style in 19th century. In June the Palace hosts the international opera festival Operosa which could be visited. Euxinograd possesses an excellent wine cellar, which is the oldest one in Bulgaria found in late 19th century. We stop for the night in some of the luxury hotels nearby.
Day 9 Cycling from Euxinograd to Varna (distance 28 km; elevation +270m/-280m)
In the morning pedal uphill the vineyard slopes of Vinitsa to reach Golden Sands Natural Park. There on a cliff high above the sea the medieval Aladja Monastery is carved. The complex represents the Christian ascetic life from 2nd to 18th century. Finally we ride on a great descent which goes to the city of Varna, major cultural and economic centre of the Bulgarian part of the Lower Danube region. Enter the city cycling through the Seaside Garden – maybe the best example of urban green architecture in Bulgaria – which includes public baths on the beach from the dawn of the 20th century, an aquarium, a dolphinarium and an observatory. Varna has a long history, the written part of which begins with the foundation of the Greek colony of Odessos. You must also see the well preserved Roman Baths complex. During the summer the city hosts Varna Summer International Music Festival and in August the renowned Ballet Festival. We continue our Varna city tour visiting the archeological museum where the World Oldest Golden Treasure from Varna necropolis is exposed. The golden artifacts date back to the Chalcolithic period, 5th millennium B.C. Interesting is the Byzantine golden treasure, old churches in the city and the architecture from the early 19th to the 20th century.
- Transfer from/to Varna and Burgas airports to Plateau Cycling Center and to your accommodation at the day before and the day after the tour
- Bike without helmet (Helmets at your disposal by renting - 5 Euro a day)
- English/Russian speaking leader with local knowledge
- Accommodation during the tours at family run hotels and guest houses, spa and other hotels at the quality of 3 stars including breakfasts
- Entrance fees
- Two (2) Picnic lunches and Two (2) Wine tasting programs at local wineries
- Refreshing drinks (non alcoholic) during the cycling time
- Support vehicle and luggage transfer
- Permanent technical bike support
- Medical insurance for Bulgaria
- BONUS for 2014 after-the-tour accommodation in the itineraries
TOUR DATES: 12 May 2014; 26 June 2014; 26 September 2014
PRICE: 999 €