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Published: March 8th 2020
The Black Sea!
5th March 2020
We flew back to Istanbul today and will head to Varna on the bus tomorrow.
The Celul Sultan hotel is right in the centre of Sultanahmet, so it was a nice to walk around again in a city that has become so familiar, one last time.
The hotel manager tells me he has given us an upgrade. It's an OK room at best and I dread to think what we might have faced otherwise!
We can't believe the increase in people here in just three weeks! The centre is buzzing as people wander about taking pictures of the city lights. It dawns on me that I haven't taken a single photo all day.
Better get snapping!
6th March 2020
Istanbul - Varna, Bulgaria
Our cab to the bus station this morning has taken around 40 minutes, and is supposed to cost around 40-45 lira. That's what everyone says. We have 60 lira left ( beautifully calculated I must say because no-one wants to have currency left over that they can't use) so we might have a little left over for a coffee.
In fact, Knackers beer consumption last night all revolves around
Our apartment building
When we arrive, the meter is flashing 65 lira. Now, if Mr Mustafanotherbeer had had one less beer, we would have been OK! As it is, the driver is happy to accept lira and Euro, but now we are stuck with left over lira.
Lucky for me, the bus stop where we take a break alsostocks the most amazing chocolate bars I have ever eaten, so now I can stock up! Winning!
The border crossing took about an hour.
Our bus is the only bus at the border, and has seven passengers. The process has three phases. You get off the bus and get stamped out of Turkey. If you are Shane, you get a quarter of a stamp. You get back on the bus, drive 100 metres and then get off the bus again. You remove your bags from underneath the bus. We are asked to unzip our bags in the middle of the road for inspection.
The nasty Russian who reclined her seat in my face two minutes into our journey isn't happy that they are rifling through her meagre hand luggage, and nor is her uglier than Gerard Depardieu boyfriend.
The inspector asks our driver
Mother of God Cathedral
where we are from and when he answers Australia, he merely waves us aside and gestures that he isnt going to bother with our bags.
Lucky!! I've got wrinkle reducing Donkey milk soap! Who knows what is in that stuff!
We arrive after 8.5 hrs. Trips like that are pretty easy when you can spread out a little.
The taxi driver is a legend and a lovely man, who insists Shane wait by the cab with the bags while he makes sure I can find the lock box that holds the key to our communist style apartment.
The apartment is small but lovely inside and in stark contrast to its exterior.
Shane says: Australia's obsession with date roll (toilet paper) has taken off in Bulgaria it seems. Arrived at the apartment and upon inspection, we realise we only have a quarter of a roll of date tickets (paper). I'm ok but what's Sharls going to use?
7th March 2020
We have booked our ongoing train tickets this morning.
A lovely day walking about the coast today and through the Sea Gardens, a massive park, that follows the ocean.
We dipped our toes in
Mother of God Cathedral
the Black sea, which was freezing, and then we went to the aquarium. It was just awful. If there was such a thing as a communist aquarium, this would be it. It was essentially a few walls of fish tanks with various fish crammed together, and then, at the very end, a tank of sick and dying or dead sea horses! It was a very sad and depressing place.
A visit to Kaufman this afternoon however, has rewarded us with a lovely bottle of wine and some antipasto delights.
Shane says: Hope the wine was nice Sharls! Doesn't like sharing, that girl. Beers were good. Antipasto was just what we needed. It's been awhile.
Black Sea was cold. Another tick. Love the Oceans and Seas.
Great to be back in Europe. Wineries and Pork. Just what this man wants and needs.
8th March 2020
Another quiet day exploring the city today, and MustafaKFC has dragged me 2.5kms to the Grand Mall under the pretence that we book a taxi for tomorrow morning, which I do.
He has given up doing the talking.
No-one understands him anyway, he says.
I lit some special candles
today at the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral. Like them or not, some churches just move you to sit quietly and reflect in the silence that surrounds you. This was one of them.
Varna is an unusual city. It combines communist architecture with pockets of Austrian style chalets, modernist buildings and sculpture and grafitti.
I will leave here tomorrow feeling quite confused.
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