Weeks 10 - 12: Sunny Beach, Bulgaria: Sun, sea and swimming...

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August 30th 2008
Published: September 10th 2008
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1: Sunny Beach Weather Update 83 secs
Well, we had 3 weeks in the resort of Sunny Beach staying in a gorgeous studio apartment (which cost us less per night than camping in Bohinj!) about 15 mins drive from the mayhem of Sunny Beach resort. We had it all... glorious weather (up to 37 degrees one day), more swimming pools than we could ever hope to swim in (including the wave pool that our studio overlooked), a balcony with a fabulous sea view where we spent our nights reading and playing chess (while drinking v cheap beer & wine) and a fully fitted kitchen where we cooked gorgeous food every day (we actually managed to go 2 full weeks without eating out!). I even had time to finally sort out the music on my ipod and created a number of playlists which will no doubt come in useful when we get on the Fez Bus next week.

We did venture out a few times though the 30 minute walk to the nearest town, Sveti Vlas (affectionately known by us as Sweaty Vallas), was nerve racking to say the least - I swear the driving gets worse the further east you go and it seems that the more reckless the drivers are, the less likely it is that there will be a footpath. I was literally petrified every time we walked it. Sweaty was a small, very touristy town but had very cheap internet and a cheap supermarket which made it worth the walk. The highlights of our time on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast though were all found in Sunny Beach and beyond...

The first highlight was meeting up with Debbie who had flown home from Slovenia, spent a night in Leeds to do some washing and then flown out to Sunny Beach the next evening. We met up with her and the girls she was holidaying with and they introduced us to the sights, smells and sounds of Sunny Beach. We ate at a place called Sunny Holidays near the girls resort - it was a pretty basic looking place that looked like it had been built in the 70s (before the whole coastline was eaten by developers building giant 7-8 storey complexes) and comprised a number of bungalows surrounding a central courtyard where the restaurant was located. It was very small and the bungalows terraces faced directly onto the restaurant and we were warned that there was a danger of seeing people undressing in their doorways or through their windows so we kept our heads down while we were there. The girls had taken us there because it was cheap, good food and we weren’t disappointed. The menu was huge and I couldn’t decide what to have so when the waitress recommended the Satch - Col and I decided to go for it. It was fab - a big sizzling earthenware plate with 2 pork chops and 2 chicken fillets topped with a multitude of vegetables - carrots, potatoes, onion, peppers, olives... everything you can think of, it was so yummy. After the food we wandered down the promenade of Sunny Beach from the “posh” end to the full-on Sunny Beach experience - apart from the bars there were loads of stalls selling the usual tourist stuff and every second shop was either a Kebab Shop, a McDonalds, a bucking bronco or, more randomly, an historical photo booth where you could dress up like a cowboy or a wench and have a black and white picture taken. There were even stalls where you could hone your archery skills which we thought was maybe a tad dangerous given the amount of alcohol being consumed. The girls took us to a really nice bar and we drank and chatted into the night.

Another highlight was the day we spent at an Aqua Park, now I love these and spent many Irish Summers dragging our cousins on holiday in Leeds to Bundoran, but Col had never even been on a water slide! There were 3 parks in Sunny Beach to choose from all offering pretty similar experiences so we decided to go to the one with the swim up bar as I absolutely love sitting in a pool drinking beer (it just feels really decadent, like being a rich person in an 80s movie). Col had the last laugh though as within 5 minutes of sitting down and ordering our drinks (lemonade and coke as it was 10.30am) I somehow managed to slide of my stool and almost drown myself in the water, luckily I didn’t bring the drink with me. It was very funny apart from the fact that none of the other people around the bar laughed - they all just pretended they hadn’t noticed when I knew they had (I’d made quite a splash on entry). We had a brilliant day - there were a couple of slides that I’d been dying to try for ages; the tsunami and the vortex which didn’t disappoint - but even at the end of the day Col was still working on his entry technique and struggling not to swallow half the pool every time he landed.

Our final highlight was our big night out in Sunny Beach on our second last night. We headed back to Sunny Holidays for a Satch and then walked along the prom until we spotted a beach bar and I finally, completely got to live the dream that I have held since visiting Barcelona 3 years ago... I got to sit and drink cocktails with my feet in the sand listening to the waves lapping the beach. It was bliss. I’ve said many times during the trip that I’ve lived the dream but the feet in the sand element has always been missing. This time my dream was exceeded as we were sat on a really comfy swing chair and the music was all my favourite songs like Get Out Of My Dreams (Get Into My Car) by Billy Ocean and Roxette’s Greatest Hits. Fab!

Apart from those main events we passed the time cooking, sunbathing, reading and generally chilling, there were some drawbacks though. Bulgaria has a very scary wasp problem, there were literally millions of them and they were really persistent, in the way that a fly would constantly try to get on to your plate in England no matter how many times you batted it away. The wasps were the same, on your food, on your face, on your drinks and not scared at all and there was no escape from them - it was a nightmare. Also there was a dearth of decent bread where we were - we actually had to catch a bus and travel for 20 minutes to get a decent fresh roll - it was a nightmare (but probably good practice for when we get back to Leeds). And then there were the locals who make most of their money during the 3 short months of summer and are constantly trying to rip you off. It was so annoying - even the bus conductors were at it, “forgetting” to give you change and overcharging at every opportunity. Still these downsides were far outweighed by the fabulous weather and the lovely resort we stayed on which was so quiet that we often had the pool to ourselves and never had to fight for loungers.

Still, all good things and all that - it was soon time to move on again, this time to somewhere exotic and exciting... Istanbul!

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