Since we came so far from home, we might as well go another 550 km and have a swim in the Black Sea.
On our way there we stopped at Veliko Tarnovo, former capital of Bulgaria. There you can visit a fortress at the edge of a precipice (open till 19:30; we came later) and ethnic village Arbanassi 4 km towards the hill which is turning into a true tourist attraction. It is known for its small fortress-houses, protected by tall city and court walls. It was a summer house of the royal family in the Middle Ages.
The beaches are top-notch, dreamlike. The sand, parasols, easy chairs, cocktail-bars, restaurants, whatever you may wish for; beach massage, thermal water pools …..The waves make it impossible to swim but the water is warm and less salty than ours. It is great fun to jump into the waves.
We stayed in a small place, 8 km from Varna; a small family-ran Bed & Breakfast for 10 €. We were 5 minutes away from the beach, with the city bus stop 1 minute walk from the B&B going to town non-stop.
To select a few items:
cocktails -3-4 lev
coffee- 1,5-2 lev
large bowl of salad with meat or a vegy version – 3 lev (at Godzila, a very popular restaurant)
bowl of mussels – 5 lev
swim suit– 10 lev
shoes – 60-100 lev (just like at home)
Varna lives 24 hours a day. The night life mostly takes place inside the beach. There are semi-open clubs (2-3 lev to get in) and a string of restaurants that are always full. There are 3-4 Bulgarian musclemen at each club’s entrance so the checking of items and guests is mandatory. There are more guys like that inside the club so as a guest you feel safe from those who might bother you. The music is similar to folk-techno and it’s very catchy so everyone is merry and you get hooked easily….and I could see myself spending my entire holiday like this.
Not far from Varna is Zlatni pjasatzi (Golden Sands) and to the south a nice town called Nessebar, Slantscev briag (Sunny Beach), with sand beaches 100 meters wide. Nessebar Slantscev briag seemed over populated and soulless. There are many hotels, 6-8 storey apartment buildings …..intimidating, while Zlatni pjasatzi is somewhat smaller and cozier.
We also visited Balcik, a place about 20 km from Varna where a castle was built in 1924. Around the castle is a huge botanical garden stretching down to the shore. The queen herself used to take care of the garden. The tour around the garden takes at least 2 hours. It has roses, water garden, cactus plants, fern, palm trees, cedar etc …..all divided by small canals for automatic irrigation ……if only I could make my garden look like that.
In fact, I got the idea of going to Bulgaria and Varna from the Lisa magazine, the May 2006 issue. I saved the issue and took it with me throughout Bulgaria. There was an article in it about Zugspitzu (2962 m) in Germany as well, so I’m beginning to picture myself there.
and a little something for the end:
– duration: 12 days
– money spent: 310 €, not too much, not too cheap either, on average 200 kuna a day – something I would spend at home anyway
– paid highway toll in Serbia – 15 € in one direction; vignettes required in Bulgaria can be purchased at OMV gas stations only
– a must-have oval sticker with HR insignia when traveling through Serbia or else say goodbye to 200 kuna (euros not accepted)
– if you get a flat tyre in Belgrade you’ll pay 70 € for getting a new one and fixing the old one
– xy lev x 4 = xy kuna or xy lev : 2 = xy euro
– do not pay much attention to occasional dirt and piles of junk, they are simply a bit sloppy still
– if you feel like bringing the plastic and tin containers back to Croatia you could make a fortune since they do not buy it off there