Recently me and my wife went on a short trip to Istanbul by bus. It was great fun after all we really like Tureky and in particular Istanbul. It would all have been perfect if it wouldn’t have been for the slowness and total lack of efficiency of the Bulgarian Border Police.
On the way there it took the Bulgarian Border Police relatively short time as they were mainly concerned with checking passports, which at its usual slow pace still took some time and especially with my passport as they are not used to see an Icelandic passport. So it was fine. No problem. On the Turkish side everything was quick even when we had to take our luggage to have it scanned. We were quickly on our way to our destination to an interesting city of great people and even greater food (as long as you stay away from places for tourists).
On our way back everything seemed fine. We came to the border and very quickly we were processed by the Turkish authorities and stopped at the duty free store for 10 minutes so some people could buy stuff that is cheaper in Bulgaria. Then we proceeded to the Bulgarian side. First we were just in a line of 5 buses. The drivers went up front to take care of paperwork and to see why it was slow. They seemed to stay there talking to the Border Police while nothing was going on. Several officers seemed more concerned with smoking than working. Slowly the buses moved and continued to be very slowly processed. Then it was finally our turn after probably one and a half hour wait. Then we were told to get off the bus for passport check even though an officer had already checked them on the bus. We went out and proceeded to the passport check. Again slow and again very close look taken of my passport as after all it is both Icelandic and not red as the Bulgarian passports but blue. Mine was scanned and then the officer seemed to have a lot of things to look at on his computer. I was getting annoyed so when he handed my passport back I thanked him in Icelandic and in very grumpy way. We continued to wait for the bus to be processed and finally it was let through but was not yet cleared. So we had to wait outside but thankfully it was quite warm. We even had to wait longer than another bus from a Bulgarian company had been processed after us got to go on. We were travelling with a Turkish company even though it is registered in Bulgaria for its operations in Bulgaria. Finally the drivers got the permission to let us go back on the bus and little bit later they were allowed to proceed. The Border Police seemed to mainly be standing around doing nothing. It took more than two hours to get through the border without any thorough check on the Bulgarian side.
It seems to be at all Bulgarian border crossings that the Bulgarian side is the slowest of all. I have crossed at 5 points. Two to go into Turkey, two into Greece and one into Serbia. In all cases the Bulgarian side was very slow, even slower than the Greeks. Is the Bulgarian Border Police too lazy to do their job properly or are they plainly totally incompetent to their job? Long lines of trucks at the border waiting to be processed would indicate both of those reasons and probably more are to blame for the slowness and inefficient work on the Bulgarian side compared to their colleagues in the neighbouring countries.