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Published: July 21st 2009
Its been a while, but in June I went on a fieldtrip with college to Bulgaria.
Without any expectations I left and found out that Bulgaria had a lot more to offer than I could ever imagine! It started right off in the good way. I gathered with some classmates and we never left each others sides again for the rest of the week.
Our trip started in Eindhoven where we took a very small and somewhat dangerous plane (note: weird sounds) to Burgas. That was some kind of culture shock right there! Chaos all over, unorganized mess and the heat overwhelmed us all. All in excitement we left by coach to Albena, a big luxury resort more up North on the Black sea coast. In the pictures shown to us before it looked amazing, but real life was different. That gorgeous hotel wasn´t so gorgeous after all, and we received a warm welcome by a group of cockroaches. Strange when sleeping on the 16th floor.
The cockroaches aside, the view from that floor was stunning! We could see the entire bay and the woods behind it. Albena is a good place to visit when you want to
shut out all of your toughts and just bathe in luxury but boring when you want some adventure. Therefore we left to Varna the next day.
Varna is the 3rd largest city in Bulgaria and has a very old university that also teaches Tourism & Hospitality. The organization had arranged a lecture for us there where we learned about the tourism industry in Bulgaria. Then there was time for some self-exploration and we found out that Varna has lots of small hidden stores, houses that looked like they came straight from the Jumanji film-set, a stunning bay and a very nice boulevard. Unfortunately there was not a lot of time in Varna before leaving to Aladzha Monastry and the Cape Kaliakra. That cape is without doubt the coolest cape I have seen so far. In the burning heat of 32 degrees and sunshine all over, the sea looked as blue as can be! A perfect sanctuary to be alone with yourself and your toughts or share with others who will also be breathtaken.
For the next day we had to leave Albena Resort and drove to central Bulgaria. On the way to Arbanassi and Veliko Tarnovo, we stopped
at a Fossil Forrest with ancient ruins which was not all that spectecular, yet still worth mentioning. In Arbanassi a special lunch was arranged for us in a palace of a former Communist Leader. From the terrace of the palace we had a magnificent view over the valley. The nature is not all that interesting in Bulgaria, but standing on a place like that, it still gives you a sense of peace and soothing. After lunch we visited an Orthodox Nativity Church after which we left to Veliko Tarnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria.
After overcoming the shock of having to shower in either the toilet or sink instead of a normal bathtub or showercabin, it was time for a tour around the ancient city which was built during the Middle Ages. Veliko Tarnovo is quite interesting and has many small coutrs, parks, hidden streets and lays between 3 hills. The main hill, Tsarevets, is also the proud location of the Tsarevets Tower which used to be a fortress several ages ago and now houses a church/monument. In the heat of that day (over 35 degrees) it was a struggle to climb all those stairs, but when finally ariving
on top, I was amazed by the view, yet again. This was the point where I also realized that Bulgaria is not just some East Block country, but that it is Bulgaria, a country on its own which is a lot more interesting that I assumed before actually being a part of it.
The next day was another hot day with even more stairs to climb! We went to an Etnographic museum and climed all the 900-some stairs up to the Shipka Monument which is almost the highest point in Bulgaria. To speak of amazing views, that is definately the best place to go in Bulgaria to look as far as the eye can reach and see green and small windy roads all over. Amazing! That night we stayed in a spa hotel in Hissarya the heart of the Rose Valley.
We were all so greatefull for a moment of relaxing in that hotel after climbing all those stairs in the heat, and the swimming pool was never so welcome as that moment. The day after we drove cross the Rose Valley where we picked roses in Damascena, watched a traditional Bulgarian Folkdance and tasted Rose Liquor. Later
that day we went to Kazanlak for another arranged lunch. I was shocked when we entered Kazanlak! Everywhere you looked there were communist apartments buildings, one even taller than the other. Never saw anything to ugly and depressing! These buildings haven´t been restored ever since the fall of the Communist Era and therefore look like they´ll be falling apart any moment. Yet millions of Bulgarians live like that. That was a moment of reality check.
There wasn´t a lot of time to think about it, we had to drive all the way to Sunny Beach that same day, are final destination of the week. Sunny Beach is comparable to Salou and Benidorm in Spain and Cherssonisos on Kreta, a place to party, drinky, hang on the beach and do nothing special at all. In Sunny Beach we stayed 2,5 nigths and was a place to relax after a tough week, but also to see the last things of our tour. The old city of Sozopol, a tour over the Rapotamo River, visit the Salt Museum and a Thracian Thombe in Pomorie and tasted all kinds of wine in Chateau Boyar.
During our trip around the Eastern half of
Bulgaria we went out for dinner every night, the leva isn´t even worth half an Euro, and Sunny Beach as well was a perfect destination to continue. It was Happy Hour Every Hour so cocktails where flying around us all the time, and all dishes where tried. The funniest thing about the last 2 days in Sunny Beach was that our guides from Nvision Travel and our accompanying lecturers where also partying like crazy and having drinks with us.
Drinking and going out for dinner each night is what signifies our trip to Bulgaria. I have learned a lot during that fieldtrip, even though we didn´t even have any kind of assignment to do. I had a lot of fun and never thought that Bulgaria could have been that interesting. It will remain on my mind and I hope to revisit the country one day. Na Zdrave! Cheers
Next up is the Garda Lake in Italy which I´ll be going to in August for 2 weeks. In the mean time I have lead a Summercamp together with 11 other volunteers from Zoetermeer, my hometown. This year the Summercamp went to Apeldoorn, The Netherlands.
Italy will be my
next destination to share with you! Stay in toutch!
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