Visit date: July 18, 2018, overnight
On our last day in Bulgaria, we decided to stay in the northern border town of Ruse.
Stay in the heart of Ruse
It was past six in the evening when I arrived. I think we could arrive without any particular congestion in about 20 minutes from the rock churches in Ivanovo. The hotel is really in the middle of the city. The town was more bleak than I expected, but the main street and the central square were very beautiful.
Parking spaces are in the back lot of the plaza in the center of town. Parking was easy with more space for on-street parking than I expected.
This is where I finally got to use the Bulgarian street parking system. As I explained before, you can park your car for an hour by sending an SMS from the SIM of the Bulgarian telecom company to the number written on the street sign with the number of your car. After that, just send a blank SMS to the same address. No charge, just send an SMS. Apparently, the idea is that it’s included in the communication cost.
We took a hotel in a prime location on the main street, the shopping district. The first floor is a shop or a commercial building, and the second floor is a hotel. It was a very urban hotel, but it was in Bulgaria, and I felt the price was very cheap.
I heard that there was a museum and other attractions in this Ruse, but this time I only stayed there. We arrived at Ruse in the evening, so we took a walk around the square. Ruse is very different from other Bulgarian cities, and I felt it was very European, with many baroque style buildings.
We then headed to a restaurant we found on TripAdvisor. Something about the exterior is very classic. The interior is also very classic.
As for the food, in contrast to the European atmosphere of the city, this place is all about traditional Bulgarian cuisine. As this was a compilation of our trip to Bulgaria, we ordered a series of dishes that looked like Bulgarian cuisine.
And of course the wine. The wine was really good no matter which one we drank.
For dessert, I don’t know if it’s Bulgarian or not, but we had this one. It was good.
Crossing the Danube into Romania
The next day, we checked out of the hotel. We finally say goodbye to Bulgaria and head for Romania. The border between Romania and Bulgaria is the Danube River. The Danube River is much wider in this area than the Danube River in Vienna and Austria. Because of its size, there are only a few points where you can cross overland into Romania. Ruse is one of the most famous border points.
To get from Ruse to Romania, you need to go to the northeastern outskirts of Ruse to the border point with the big bridge.
Since we are not in the Schengen Agreement like Western Europe, there is a normal border screening. You don’t need a visa, so you can just head there, but there are a lot of vehicles crossing the border, so it can be quite congested. You also have to pay a fee to cross the Danube River bridge, and it was a bit crowded to pay the fee here. It may be the most crowded at 9:10 in the morning.
However, I think that the way through Bulgaria was relatively smooth. I think the line was rather long to cross the Danube and enter Romania. Even so, I think it took less than 15 minutes.
About Driver’s License
By the way, the system of the driver’s license is naturally different in Bulgaria and Romania. I didn’t know the details, but when I rented a car this time, I told them beforehand that I would rent a car at Sofia Airport in Bulgaria and return it at Bucharest Airport in Romania, so the car rental company had prepared it in advance. When I rented the car, the office staff told me that if I wanted to cross the border, I just had to give them this license document in its entirety.
It is true that this driver’s license was checked at the checkpoint when we entered Romania. As instructed at Sofia airport, I handed over the whole document at the checkpoint together with my passport and international driver’s license, of course, and I was able to pass through the checkpoint very smoothly without any problems.
Currency exchange and cash advances at the border
Now we entered Romania. I didn’t have any Romanian currency at all, but there was an ATM at a big gas station just past the checkpoint, and I confirmed that I could use my credit card cash advance there without any problem. So we had no problems with money.
In addition, there were some money changers outside the border checkpoint, so you can exchange money in cash right after entering the country.
So it’s my first time in Romania. First of all, I’m heading to the capital city, Bucharest.