North to Balchik and the Supermarket Incident of Varna


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Europe » Bulgaria » Dobrich Province » Balchik
June 8th 2013
Published: June 11th 2013
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We have experienced three different sides to Bulgaria from rural village life to city dwelling and over the last 3 nights,life at the seaside.One thing you do learn when you are travelling is that many countries are alike and NZ and Bulgaria have a lot in common when you take the three lifestyles we have experienced here with one small exception,the lack of animals out in the fields in Bulgaria compared to NZ.

This morning we packed up with some regret because we have been very comfortable in our apartment.However, our next two nights are also in an apartment as we enjoy a few days with less travel on the road.

We stopped in Sunny Beach which essentially is part of Nesebar but 4km up the road.

We had read a lot about the brashness of the area which has grown rapidly with tourist hotels being built to accommodate the rising number of people from outside Bulgaria finding just how cheap it is to holiday here and taking advantage of the very pleasant weather of the Black Sea.

We found ourselves a short term car park back from the beach and walked the short distance weaving our way through the numerous hotels between the main road and the beach.With large numbers of people coming down from Romania the crowds haven't arrived in huge numbers yet but once the schools start their summer holidays at the end of the week that will change.All around workers were busy sprucing the place up amid the good numbers of holidaymakers who had already arrived for their one or two week stay.

Here there are no sand dunes like at Nesebar beach where we had been for the last 3 nights and you walk onto the beach directly from the promenade and the vast numbers of people that are on the beach suddenly hits you!

Here things seem to be a lot more organised than at Nesebar and we had to negotiate groups of people doing some sort of team challenge to reach the inevitable lines of umbrellas and deckchairs all neatly laid out in straight lines for as far as the eye could see.With little or no wave action from the Black Sea the deckchairs were just a metre or two back from the waters edge and really there wasn't space to do anything other than rent one of them or sit back around the swimming pool,if your hotel has one.

There wasn't much in the way of modesty here either as in Nesebar and as we decided we had had enough and headed back to the promenade we copped an eyeful from a woman stripping off the top of her bikini to expose her voluminous breasts.

We agreed that we are so lucky in NZ that we don't have the mass population as in Europe and we are able to enjoy places like the Mount Beach without having a neighbour on the beach a metre from you on both sides and also in front and behind!!

The promenade shops,all of which looked temporary as apparently hardly anyone comes here outside late spring and summer,were well stocked and their prices were very cheap for clothes and all the other stuff that beachgoers and holidaymakers might want to buy.

As we left Sunny Beach heading further north we noticed another area of hotels or apartments that was being developed a little further inland and perhaps this is for those who don't want to be cheek by jowl with their holidaying neighbours.

We should have got on the road a couple of minutes earlier as we joined a queue of cars on the winding road held up by a truck carrying a heavy looking load of steel and our progress was slow.Every so often a car from behind us came out of the queue,foot hard to the floor and overtaked swerving back in just before another corner or when an opposing vehicle appeared.We resolved that we would sit and wait our time as some of the manoeuvres we saw were down right risky.

Eventually we decided we had had enough of following the truck and so pulled off for diesel which we needed anyway.After filling up we tried to find a car park near the beach at Obzor but without any luck.As in many other places the hotels occupy the beachfront and control who drives into their car park which means you have to try and find a park back from the beach on a town street.

We drove onto Byala and stopped beside a park and children's playground where the grass was two feet tall and as yet had not received its summer cut.Rather than risk the chance of meeting some grass snakes hidden in the long grass we opted to have a boot lunch normally saved for the roadside when there is no where else to sit.

As the road into the large city of Varna became four lane we noticed that we had got back into the girls on the side of the road territory again which we hadn't seen for quite a while.

Ahead of us Varna didn't look very inviting but we needed a supermarket to top up the groceries and get enough in for dinner for the next two nights as we suspected that our apartment complex would be in an isolated area away from supermarkets.

One of the things that we find useful and applies over all of Europe that we have been are the signs for supermarkets on the lamp posts indicating the way to the store with arrows and also the time left to travel to get there.Generally they are reliable although we have had the odd occasion when we haven't been able to find the entry or have overshot it causing you to go around again.

All the big supermarkets chains appeared on successive posts and in the end we chose Kaufland.

Now we haven't as yet worked out how the 'locked' supermarket trolleys work to get them out of the line and use them to collect your items as you go around.Most supermarkets of any size use this method and we really should try and work out how it all works rather than going in with used supermarket plastic bags from earlier purchases ,filling them up as we go around and then having to empty them at the cashier and refill after they go thru the checkout.

Often we have seen trolleys empty and unattended when we have entered the stores and today was no different as got what we needed in the fruit and vege area.By the way we had started todays shop we would be struggling to manage our way around with the bags we had so when I spied an empty, lone trolley and no one using it I grabbed it and followed Gretchen around dropping our bags of purchases into it.

However what I hadn't counted on was that the trundle actually was being used by someone who just hadn't purchased anything and was still in the fruit and vege area getting items weighed.

Now all the trolleys look the same but I must have looked a little guilty as an older guy suddenly reached out and grabbed a little red tag that hangs down from the side of the trolley.This is the tag that you detatch the trolley from the line of others and has a number on it for which the 'owner'of the trolley has the other piece as identification.He jabbered something in Romanian and I smiled shrugging my shoulders taking the bags I had already put into the trolley and looking around for Gretchen for some help.

Now I should add at this point that she had warned me NOT to take the unmanned trolley and that I would get found out.I finally found her down another aisle giving me that 'I told you so'look and shaking her head.

We were in that store for another 20 minutes and we must have come across that same man 4 or 5 times and each time we had to change our course so not to come into direct contact,such was my embarrassment!We have jointly resolved to find out how the system works next time we tackle a supermarket.

Varna is one of the few cities that we have been to recently that still has trolley buses and they seemed to be in good numbers'

Leaving Varna behind we were soon at Balchik where we turned off the main road for the last 10km drive along a bumpy narrow coastal road to the White Lagoon and the Sea Paradise Apartments which was to be our home for the next 2 nights.

Barry,a Pom who has managed the complex for the last 6 years,was there to greet us and he showed us the apartment which has a nice balcony with a sea view.We don't think he had spoken to too many English people recently and he was quite chatty telling us all about his involvement at the complex over the last 6 years and talking about travel and the guests and where they mainly come from.here ther seemed to be a predominance of Romanians and Russians as well as Bulgarians.

It was time for spag bog again and we had purchased pork mince in Varna along with a jar of sauce which turned out to be very high in salt which can be one of the problems when you aren't sure what the label is telling you about the ingredients and the salts and fat contents etc.

Tomorrow we don't intend to do anything much and will soak up the rest before heading for Romania on Monday morning.

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