Wino Forever


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Europe » Bulgaria
July 31st 2011
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: 43.21, 27.9

A bit of Varna trivia - the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula referenced Varna, as the port from where Dracula would set sail, bound for England and in search of Mina Harker, the character played by Winona Ryder. During the time the movie was released, Winona Ryder was dating Johnny Depp, who famously tattooed "Winona Forever" on his arm. When the two broke up, he infamously had the tattoo changed to read "Wino Forever", something which is also fitting for Bulgaria - staying in this country much longer and continuing to drink the cheap but great locally-produced wines would also turn me into a Wino Forever ...

Another interesting tidbit about Varna - a couple of weeks before leaving Calgary, I had picked up some "Beginner's Bulgarian" CDs from the library and was taking the elevator up to my condo, when all of a sudden the girl riding up the elevator with me starts excitedly asking me "Why are you learning Bulgarian???!!?" "Uh ... because I'm going there ..."

Turns out she's not only originally from Bulgaria, but here home town is Varna and the next thing you know, I'm getting all sorts of tips on places to see, things to do, and things to eat. I always find it funny how people from countries such as Bulgaria are so proud of their home and so excited to find out that someone, anyone really, would want to visit. From what I can tell so far, Bulgaria is heavily-touristed mostly by the French, and also visited by those from the UK and Australia ... but there's still a sense of surprise and wonder from the locals when they encounter foreigners.

Her reaction was priceless, one of genuine excitement and happiness that she could share her country with someone she just met. At the time, I thought it portended well, giving hope that any other Bulgarians I would come across would offer the same kindness. So far, that's largely been true.

So far, Varna's been nice but nothing spectacular, and is a definite improvement over Sunny Beach. Though also touristy, Varna manages to maintain an aura of reality, some semblance of sanity. There are a number of museums and art galleries around town, but none of them were super memorable. In the end, it's still the kind of place most people visit to bake themselves in the sun and drink all night ... I'm not really feeling the place all that much.

But having said that, today was still enjoyable, because of beautiful Primorski Park and Varna's great cafe culture ... even without feeling a place, one can appreciate whiling away the day on various terraces, enjoying a cold beer, a cappuccino (both putrid and killer), and a nice meal (both mediocre and excellent). Varna hasn't been the best of Bulgaria so far, but today still rocked!



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Marketing ...Marketing ...
Marketing ...

... so if I take these supplements, I'm going to turn into a Bulgarian version of Lara Croft? If so, I'll take a case! Then I'll just take bubble baths in front of a mirror all day long.
Putrid Cappuccino Near the Hostel ...Putrid Cappuccino Near the Hostel ...
Putrid Cappuccino Near the Hostel ...

... topped with whipped cream, I don't get it ...
Graffiti Gallery ...Graffiti Gallery ...
Graffiti Gallery ...

... one of a few art galleries in town, this one with an attached super-chic cafe. There was an exhibition of sketches and engravings by Dali - for the price of $6000 CAD, one of them was yours. More enjoyable than the artwork was the A/C - a life saver!
Lunch at Alba ...Lunch at Alba ...
Lunch at Alba ...

... the place looked much better than the food tasted, a cool Joey Tomato's-like place probably better for a drink than for a meal. Finally tried one of the other big Bulgarian beer brands, Zagorka - a bit wheatier than Kamenitza, which is my current Bulgarian fave. The fish was pretty bad ... dry, overcooked, and flavourless. The side dish was some boiled and shredded potatoes, which was no more than tasteless mush. The best part of the place was the fact that the menu was filled with pictures, making it possible for me to actually order something.
Massive Coffee Shop ...Massive Coffee Shop ...
Massive Coffee Shop ...

... that turned out one of the best cappuccinos in Bulgaria, to date. Perfect place to enjoy some A/C and catch the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
A Bit Too Chocolately and Sweet ...A Bit Too Chocolately and Sweet ...
A Bit Too Chocolately and Sweet ...

... but as mentioned, the cappuccino was otherwise excellent.
Prodadena Nevesta ...Prodadena Nevesta ...
Prodadena Nevesta ...

... restaurant recommended by the hostel, with a 10% discount to boot! Great location off a quiet little street in an even quieter little courtyard. I've noticed that Bulgarians love Spanish-language music, which was the soundtrack for this evening's meal.
House Special ...House Special ...
House Special ...

... kind of a Bulgarian version of veal parmesan but with pork. A bit tough but a strong pork flavour, unlike the Canadian stuff which tends to be a bit flavourless, covered in a tasty sauce of roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, and big chunks of heavenly fatty bacon, then smothered in melted cheese. Served with some garlic toast made from mass-produced bread, which was a bit disappointing to see, as was the overly-pungent raw garlic taste, and some wonderfully crisp french fries. A little pitcher of refreshing white wine kept the meal light. Overall, an excellent dinner.
Dessert ...Dessert ...
Dessert ...

... baklava, which wasn't very crisp but a bit doughy. Nice Turkish coffee.
Dinner Company ...Dinner Company ...
Dinner Company ...

... had this been at a Chinese restaurant, this would have been the house special, not the pork dish!
Finally ...Finally ...
Finally ...

... my cheap little watch broke apart, something which was accelerated during an attempted robbery this past winter in Brazil: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/12/1293892098/tpod.html


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