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Trip Paperwork Covers all documentation, carnets, customs and country requirements, how to deal with insurance etc.
Photo by James Duncan, Universe Camp, Uyuni Salt Flats

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by James Duncan,
"Universe Camp"
Uyuni Salt Flats



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  #1  
Old 5 Nov 2008
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Bulgaria Insurance - A Warning

Just crossed from Turkey to southern Bulgaria at the easternmost crossing - Malko Tarnovo.

If you don't have Bulgaria marked on your Green Card -- i.e. green cards issued via Knopf Tours -- beware.

There's an Allianz insurance desk on the Bulgarian side asking €74 or 170 lev for the shortest period of cover -- one month. As opposed to the €5 I paid for three months' cover in Turkey.

She would also only accept cash. And only lev or Euros. Not very clever when everyone arriving here has come from Turkey. And there's no ATM or change at the border! Idiots.

One of the border guards was a biker whose jaw hit the floor at the same time as mine when the insurance clerk announced the fee. "I pay 30 lev a year," he told me.

He suggested I ride on to the first big town, Burgas.. or just ride through. I'm loath to do that. But then I checked with the local Allainz office here -- 115 lev for a year! Minimum.

I'm going to chase this up with Allianz.. for all the good I expect it to do. Someone's making money out of this and while I'm no fan of insurance companies, I like cheats even more.

Oh, and while I'm here, the Turkish customs authorities needed a photocopy of my passport and Trkish insurance sheet for their records -- so sent me off to the litle post office to get it. At a cost of 1 Turkish lira -- about 30 pence GB. Get your own bloomin' photocopy, you cheapskates! Just because it's a small scam, it's still a scam.

[Loved Turkey. Loving Bulgaria. Not very good at moaning.]
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  #2  
Old 5 Nov 2008
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Mike, you should have done what he said and ridden on!

I f you are still heading for Burgas go to the old London pub near the Sea Garden, I have some really good friends there who will help you out, advise you on cheap accomodation with safe parking. and (if you are nice to them) take you out on the town too. Just tell them Pete sent you!
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Old 7 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frinch11 View Post
Mike, you should have done what he said and ridden on!

I f you are still heading for Burgas go to the old London pub near the Sea Garden, I have some really good friends there who will help you out, advise you on cheap accomodation with safe parking. and (if you are nice to them) take you out on the town too. Just tell them Pete sent you!
Ha ha, nice one! Moira, Andy, Jo, Mitchell and Billy and the regulars all send their regards. Do they miss you? Bloomin' nora, all they ever said was.. Pete said this, Pete said that, Pete did this... ;-) And Andy certainly misses the seven day weekends.

Or in other words.. cheers Pete, I stumbled on the London by accident.. and stumbled out after a couple of drinks too.

--Mike
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Old 7 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
If you don't have Bulgaria marked on your Green Card -- i.e. green cards issued via Knopf Tours -- beware.

There's an Allianz insurance desk on the Bulgarian side asking €74 or 170 lev for the shortest period of cover -- one month. As opposed to the €5 I paid for three months' cover in Turkey.

She would also only accept cash. And only lev or Euros. Not very clever when everyone arriving here has come from Turkey. And there's no ATM or change at the border! Idiots.[
I just checked my ARISA green card (the company Knopf uses) and found that it does indeed cover Bulgaria. Last year I used Knopf directly, and I think this was true then, too. Don't know how to account for your experience.

OTOH, my green card didn't cover various other places, listed in another connection at http://horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/eu...and-back-38772 . Note that there are other places where costs are similar to those you complain about so bitterly. Note also that most border crossings don't have ATM's, that lots of places in the world require payment for visas, insurance and other necessities in hard currency, and and some lack even moneychangers. Personally, I carry dollars, euros or (almost always) both. Sounds to me like you should, too.

And when a border guard tells me I'm supposed to have insurance and I really ought to stop at the next town and buy some, I thank him politely and am on my way before anyone has a chance to second-guess.

I found Bulgaria pretty supportive and friendly in general, but did not like the looks of those big shaven-headed guys with the thick necks I kept seeing in the cities. I'd rather have a polite discussion of insurance and currency with a uniformed border guard than cross one of those on a street corner!

And FWIW I paid three times what you did for the same coverage in Turkey, purchased at the same crossing you used but headed in the other direction. It's all pretty random, and if you win as often as you lose you're way ahead of the game in my view.

Hope that's helpful.

enjoy,

Mark
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Old 8 Nov 2008
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Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I just checked my ARISA green card (the company Knopf uses) and found that it does indeed cover Bulgaria. Last year I used Knopf directly, and I think this was true then, too. Don't know how to account for your experience.
Neither do I. I'm cursed;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Note that there are other places where costs are similar to those you complain about so bitterly.
And I'll complain bitterly about them too. It's a scam. The people at the border are making a lot of money every time somebody buys this piece of paper from them. If I look like a rich Brit, I expect and can't resent when some people set a higher price for me.. but this isn't a 'rich tourist tax', it's a rip-off, a scam.

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Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Personally, I carry dollars, euros or (almost always) both. Sounds to me like you should, too.
I do. It's good advice. Though, as a point of interest, this is the 34th border crossing of this particular trip [approximately] and the first time I've been moved to such 'bitterness'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
And when a border guard tells me I'm supposed to have insurance and I really ought to stop at the next town and buy some, I thank him politely and am on my way before anyone has a chance to second-guess.
Again, good advice. In this case, I had a long chat with him about biking in Bulgaria.. and football.. before I set off. No pressure to buy the insurance.. which is telling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I found Bulgaria pretty supportive and friendly in general.
Loved it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
And FWIW I paid three times what you did for the same coverage in Turkey.. It's all pretty random, and if you win as often as you lose you're way ahead of the game in my view.
Sort of. When I enter Russia I know I have to have an expensive visa/ insurance/ something-else-they-just-thought-of. That's not random. It's institutionalised and I expect it.

This was a small-time.. but expensive.. localised scam. I don't suppose this would have happened at the other road crossing between the two countries.. unless they've shared the details with each other. So.. this is random. Hence the initial post so others know what to expect. And if I get through to someone at Allianz HQ and they sort out what's happening in their name, so much the better.

I hope to cross through Moldova/ Transnistria in the next couple of days. Imagine what I'll have to say about them!
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  #6  
Old 21 Aug 2011
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Just to update:

I crossed there yesterday. Green Card was available for 32€ for 1 month. No photocopies needed anymore for Turkish customs...

Quick and easy crossing...
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