Published: June 15th 2006June 15th 2006
Well, I am slowly making my way down the Black Sea coast being somewhat made to slow down by a blasted cold I know I picked up in Veliko Turnavo (everyone in the hostel there seemed to be coughing and spluttering and I obviously have not incorporated enough garlic into my diet so am doing likewise now).
I cheated (again!) and caught the bus to Varna which I am very glad about. The towns that the bus drove through looked absolutely miserable and the landscape, well, nothing I haven't seen before. Not only that, I saw a pack of dogs giving chase to a horse and cart. I was very grateful to have been observing this from the comfort of my air-conditioned bus. On the dog front though, they have been relatively good. Hope this continues.
I hadn't realised I missed the sea so much until I saw the water - it almost made be cry. Varna is beautiful, if you don't look too closely and it was fantastic to finally make it to the Black Sea again, even if it wasn't through my own efforts. It did however take practically 5 hours to secure a bed for the night as the owner of the Flag Hostel was nowhere to be found. When I did get hold of him, Dean his name was from Manchester, he was cleaning up after 6 "lads" who had spent a week at the hostel. I was very glad that they had departed. The room was an absolute mess and I think he sensed my abhorrance and gave me a room to myself. Yay!
Apart from the sea and a swag of restaurant, bars and casinos, there is not much to keep the tourist entertained once the museums have been exhausted. Although, for people watching, infinite entertainment is guaranteed. There is nothing like a sea side town to bring out all sorts. Varna appears to be heading towards being the eastern Benidorm complete with English eccentrics. Apart from English eccentrics it is also home to some 300 real estate agents all selling to unsuspecting Western Europeans a bit of Eastern European paradise which at times can mean a rundown house in a little village occupied by 3 Bulgarian families, one Roma family and out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently people have been known to rock up with their 50,000 + pounds in cash and bought up there and then without knowing anything about the Bulgarian property market. Needless to say, where there are hapless, brainless tourists there are estate agents...
After 3 nights in Varna I headed (slowly) to Bjala. It is a little town 50km south of Varna, not too overcrowded and a holiday home for mainly Russians looking to defrost after a very cold winter. I was told last night that in Moscow they had one month of -37C (!!!) I would be migrating to warmer climes too.
Bjala was a lovely town to rest and try and get some energy back but I decided to move on, hard as it was to leave as the sea and beach was beautiful. Unfortunately the rain has been following me and I am trying to keep ahead of it by moving further south little by little.
Now I am in Nessabur which is a gorgeous town but I really don't know how many more souvenir shops you can get down any one cobbled alleyway. The old town is full of these and old Byzantine churches. And, to top it off, it absolutely heaves in July/August when the 150,000 + rooms of Sunny Beach are filled. I'm surprised it doesn't sink under the weight of all those people! But, it is picturesque and I am happy to have visited before the hordes descend.
I am currently staying with a woman, Stojanka, who lets private rooms. This is much more preferable (and cheaper) then staying in a hotel and not talking to anyone. She invited me to have coffee and cake (yum) and we chatted, mainly about how she was all alone (I know how that feels) but also about her husband who passed away last July and her son who has been living in Germany for the last 24 years. Um, I really didn't have anything to say on that front other than to listen. It helps speaking German.
Tomorrow I hope to make it to Sozopol but I really have to see what the weather, and my health, has in store. I plan to at least make it to Burgas. I am also reassessing whether I will ride in to Turkey. Taking the bike on the bus, whilst a feasible option, is not a certainty until the very last minute and even then they can decline it. As my 30 days in Bulgaria is fast approaching I really don't want to pay a fine for an overstay. I'm thinking, to avoid riding into Istanbul, I may take a bus from the first major town I hit in Turkey. We'll see...
Before I go, I want to say a BIG thank you to all the people who have emailed me or added a comment to the blog. I really love to hear from you and it makes my day to hear your news. Keep it up!