Taking a Slow Train Through Bulgaria

It’s the small details–brass coat hooks, tiny semi-circled tables with old fashioned metal ashtrays underneath, which add a civilized edge to the journey and the otherwise shabby interior of this little train carriage. Looking out through thedirty, smudged windows, we pass through woodlands, open pastures, and curve above mountain roads or flank alongside river bends. Occasionally, our train twists and has to spiral along the single tracks to allow it to negotiate the ascent which carries us further upwards and downwards through a collection of small tunnels.

 The short train with its Romanian, red engine leads the way from Septemvri to Dobriniste which travels through the Rhodope, Rila and Pirin Mountain ranges in Bulgaria and is renowned for its narrow gauge line (760mm) and slow-travelling heights. The journey usually takes six hours but there are no hard and fast rules up in these gorges and valleys, and the only thing to do is sit back and enjoy the leisurely ride through the 25 station stops and 125 kilometres of stunning backdrops that it encompasses.

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