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Europe » Bulgaria
July 28th 2011
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: 42.6931, 27.7083

British humour - famed for being dry and witty, it's not for everybody. Personally speaking, I've watched a few British sitcoms over the years and have enjoyed them. Today, I got to live through a real-life episode, starring four English guys who were also staying at the Plovdiv branch of the Hostel Mostel mini empire in Bulgaria. I was treated to quite the entertaining dialogue this morning as I sat in the basement, eating my breakfast. It's a perfect example of how traveling in groups, for all its perks, can go off the rails when people start getting on each others' nerves.

Barnaby (6'-3" frat boy type): "Steve, you stink. Are you going to shower today?"
Steve (with dreadlocks, looks a bit like a British stoner version of Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis): "I told you, I'm not showering until Chris does what he promised."
Brock (another 6'-3" frat boy type): "How long has it been since you showered?"
Steve: "It's been ... uh ... three days ..."
Barnaby: "F*ck Steve, why don't you hurry up and take a shower!"
Steve: "I told you, not until Chris keeps does what he said he would."
Brock: "F*ck man, don't punish us and our nostrils because of that.
Ice Coffee at Cafe Afreddo to Start the Day ...Ice Coffee at Cafe Afreddo to Start the Day ...Ice Coffee at Cafe Afreddo to Start the Day ...

... the temperature was rising and getting too warm for a hot drink. Really nice ice coffee, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - not too sweet, and very refreshing..
Have a shower!"
Steve: "I actually don't stink that bad ... I just feel ... unclean, is all."
Brock: "F*ck man, why don't you just use the soap in the dispenser hanging on the bathroom wall?"
Steve: "I told you, not until Chris does what he said he would, and buys the next bottle of shower gel. I'm not using any of that shit wall soap!"
Chris (sticking his head in through the basement window, from the outside): "Hello guys!!! I'm here and I heard everything!"
Steve: "Then why don't you hurry the f*ck up and buy some more shower gel like you said you would?"
Chris: "Not until you admit you lost the last bit of shower gel."
Steve: "Who cares Steve, why don't you just buy some more? And don't buy any of that no name shit, get the good stuff!"
Chris: "Tell you what, I'll buy some more shower gel tomorrow after you've showered today using the wall soap."
Steve: "F*ck, I told you I'm not using that soap!"

Before I could see how this riveting Britcom episode would end, I needed to leave, first because I was ready to pee my pants from laughing, but also because I wanted to partake in some more
Ice Coffee Was So Good, Had to Try a Cappuccino ..Ice Coffee Was So Good, Had to Try a Cappuccino ..Ice Coffee Was So Good, Had to Try a Cappuccino ..

... couldn't resist! Absolutely had to see if their regular coffee was as good, since I hadn't had anything decent in a few days, especially at the hostel here in Plovdiv, which only served instant coffee. While the ice coffee was still better, the cappuccino didn't disappoint - hot, strong, and tasty.
of Plovdiv's cafe culture before catching my bus for the Black Sea and Sunny Beach.

By all accounts that I have heard so far in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach and Varna are great for crazy, over-the-top holidays, but absolute shit for a beach destination - overcrowded and over-touristed, there's really nothing Bulgarian about the place. As soon as I set foot off the bus in Sunny Beach, I knew I would hate it here ... but still, there was a slight hope that it was only because of my preconceptions based on earlier conversations ... I hoped that was the case but sadly, it wasn't.

415 Hostel offers a pick up service from the bus station, as do many hostels in Bulgaria - with its horrible reputation for taxi drivers ripping people off at the train and bus stations, I suspect it might be something they offer to keep tourists from getting off to a bad start. But not having a cell phone, and having spent the past five hours seated on a bus, I decided a nice walk was in order.

From the get go, it was obvious how over-developed Sunny Beach is. A purpose-built resort, it reeks of greed - developers
View from Cafe Afreddo's 2nd-Floor Terrace ...View from Cafe Afreddo's 2nd-Floor Terrace ...View from Cafe Afreddo's 2nd-Floor Terrace ...

... overlooking Plaza Tsentralen.
see a chance to make millions and they pressure or bribe whoever they need to in order to get approval and haphazardly start constructing casinos, hotels, restaurants, shops, whatever. You can see that not a single thought was put into doing it properly, as not one bit of the layout makes any sense ... there are hardly any sidewalks to speak of, even on stretches of the main drag. None of the streets are named, and I wondered if it was because Sunny Beach was so poorly planned. Block after block of ugly concrete ... it's a shame, really.

Sunny Beach is renowned as having one of the best stretches of sand on the entire Bulgarian coast, but even that is ruined by developers. Between the tacky, cheesy carnival atmosphere of the boardwalk which is packed with international chain restaurants and bars with go-go dancers (not that I'm complaining about that one), there is barely an available patch of sand, as the beach is dominated by umbrellas and lounge chairs for rent. It's a perfect place if you're looking for a crazy place to party, perhaps for a stag, but it's really not for me. I couldn't find one redeeming quality
Plovdiv's Cafe Tour Continued ...Plovdiv's Cafe Tour Continued ...Plovdiv's Cafe Tour Continued ...

... at Simfoniya, overlooking Tsar Simeon Garden. From there, just up the Hill of Liberators is the Monument to the Soviet Army. More propaganda!
about this place ... simply put, this place is shit!!!


Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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Lunch at Simfoniya ...Lunch at Simfoniya ...
Lunch at Simfoniya ...

... ham, cheese, and tomato panini, also stuffed with fries. Not getting the Bulgarian preference to stuff their kebabs and sandwiches with fries, and I'm certainly not digging it.
Traditional Bulgarian Meal in Sunny Beach ...Traditional Bulgarian Meal in Sunny Beach ...
Traditional Bulgarian Meal in Sunny Beach ...

... of roast beef and yorkshire pudding. I'll be this is eaten every Sunday in homes all over Bulgaria!
International Chains Abound ...International Chains Abound ...
International Chains Abound ...

... on the main pedestrian street heading down to the beach. The only Bulgarian chain represented is the Happy Bar & Grill franchise, with locations all over Bulgaria.
Guaranteed Bad ...Guaranteed Bad ...
Guaranteed Bad ...

... Chinese food in Bulgaria cannot be good, especially when there's no Chinese population to speak of, and all the chefs and waiters are non-Asian. But I must admit that I was tempted to try it! In addition to Chinese, it's possible to find Indian, Thai, and sushi here in Sunny Beach. Whether or not it's any good, who knows ...
Ubiquitous In the Balkans ...Ubiquitous In the Balkans ...
Ubiquitous In the Balkans ...

... a corn stand, a very popular street food in this part of the world.
Every Tacky Tourist Town Has One ...Every Tacky Tourist Town Has One ...
Every Tacky Tourist Town Has One ...

... Elvis is alive, and he's performing here tonight!!!
Bulgarian Breakfast of Champions ...Bulgarian Breakfast of Champions ...
Bulgarian Breakfast of Champions ...

... the full English breakfast, with sausages shipped all the way from chain grocery stores in the UK. Nothing like that authentic travel food experience.
First Ever Fish Spa ...First Ever Fish Spa ...
First Ever Fish Spa ...

... you pay to sit on a bench and dip your feet into an aquarium full of little fish, which I take it are supposed to massage your feet as they swim. As an extra benefit, they probably also eat all the dead skin off your feet. This presents another untapped business opportunity - eating all that nasty dead skin will undoubtedly give the fish a very distinct and rank flavour, perfect to market to Asian countries as a delicacy!
A Maze to Trap Tourists ...A Maze to Trap Tourists ...
A Maze to Trap Tourists ...

... off the main roads, all the back streets run parallel to each other, with no way to escape the maze. They all funnel to the same pedestrian streets that are packed with bars, hotels, restaurants, and shops. It's either extremely poor planning by the developers, or stroke of genius - if you can't easily escape this area, then you'll spend all your money here, right?
Reminds Me of the Canary Islands ...Reminds Me of the Canary Islands ...
Reminds Me of the Canary Islands ...

... where we stayed at a hotel, and all the guests were content to sit around the crappiest and tiniest little pool and bar, drinking Guinness and watching English Premier League, on a 14" CRT TV, when some of the most beautiful beaches were only minutes away.
The Fifth Dimension ...The Fifth Dimension ...
The Fifth Dimension ...

... Sunny Beach is so over the top that the standard three dimensions won't do. The fourth dimension is time, which passes tortuously slowly here, as I count down the time when I can get somewhere better. The fifth dimension is tackiness, which is in absolute abundance here.
Western European Prices ...Western European Prices ...
Western European Prices ...

... this kebab was easily triple the price of other ones I've had. Sunny Beach is likely the most expensive place in all of Bulgaria. To add insult to injury, it was pretty crappy. Sadly, eating this kebab was the most authentic experience I've had so far in Sunny Beach.


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