A little over two years ago I posted a blog about my armchair travels in the cabs of trains. Over the years many train drivers and train enthusiasts have posted on Youtube videos of real time complete train trips as seen from the cab of trains. You can find my original post here, with some links to those videos here: https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/6896160652380675241/486859535421288849
Since then, I have continued to travel throughout Europe in the cabs of trains, and my plan is to post links to the the channels where you can find the trips I’ve taken since then.
Today I'll introduce Bulgaria to you. I spent several months traveling through the country, and as you can see from the map below, I've ridden on most of its rails, save for a few branch lines. (Yellow routes are the ones I've ridden on.) I have one more stretch to watch, that blank route in the northeast. Right now I'm traveling in Romania.
Just a brief word about these videos. I find that there is something about moving pictures that draw you into a scene far more completely than a still photo. And I think that crisscrossing a country on their train system gives you a far better “feel” for a country than a picture book of tourist attractions. Moreover, you can always “get off” the train and explore most of these countries on foot virtually by using Google Street View. I spend 45- 60 minutes every day exploring countries from a train cab window while I ride my bike on a rack inside the house during our long winters. But they can be fascinating to just watch – movement is conductive to thought, and watching the countryside glide by can be a gateway to thinking.
Bulgaria is a very beautiful country, with lots of hills and mountains that make for very scenic travel. The southern east-west route across the country is across flat land, for the most part, and sort of boring, but the northern two routes have lots of scenic stretches, as do the branch lines that run north and south.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39TPmlfovVM Through the Ishkar River Valley north of Sofia
Bulgaria is one of those countries where the station masters, in their red peaked caps, come out of their offices to watch and wave to every train that goes by their station, even if it doesn’t stop. It’s also one of those countries that have huts at both ends of the station where all the track converge back into the main line or two. These are, or were, used to house the men who had to manually switch the track to route the train to its designated platform at the station. Now days this switching is all done remotely in most Western European countries, but in the east, on the smaller branch lines, the switch must be thrown manually, and you will see guys manning these huts to switch the tracks for the next train through
Bulgaria also has a certain dystopian air to it in places. The houses in some cities are mostly foursquare, in stained grey stucco. Some of the apartment buildings have individual units painted differently, so that they look to like a patchwork quilt. You see horse drawn carts on town streets. I found all this interesting enough to hop about in Street View. The small towns are very interesting. On one block you see a yard full of junk that could’ve come straight out of Appalachia, and two blocks later, an architecturally designed house or duplex that puts America’s mass produced vinyl sided faux mansions to shame. It is a country well worth at least a virtual visit by train and on foot via Street View. I like Bulgaria.
Video Train Ride Channels for Bulgaria. Many of these channels also have train spotting videos, just of trains passing, so you have to do some scrolling to find the cab ride videos.
Back On Track Studios