Black Sea or Bust

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Nov 19, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Bulgaria  , Burgas,
Saturday, July 9, 2011

We woke early for a long journey to the beaches of Bulgaria. Erica was feeling a bit anxious with a bit of "India" lingering just as my appetite began to return.  I would have been happy to relax in Istanbul for another week, but budget and time dictated that we should make our way west toward Croatia.  Erica had planned for a few days on the beach in the small town of Sozopol so I couldn't complain.  After another picturesque breakfast we grabbed our bags, took the tram to the super efficient commuter train and found ourselves at an enormous bus terminal.  It was a well organized complex featuring nothing but Mercedes Coaches and a hundred different operators.  Nobody spoke English, but it didn’t seem to be an issue as we climbed aboard the nicest bus of our journey thus far.

Overall, it was a pleasant ride with bad Turkish television and hustling bus attendant feeding all manner of beverages.  There was a little confusion about our destination and an unnecessarily slow border crossing, but as the only foreigners on the bus we were surprised to not get hassled.  After several hours we arrived in Burgas and the driver was nice enough to drop us at a transfer station where the staff wasn’t nearly as pleasant.  These were the kind of ladies that look at you with their eyes half closed, annoyed by the fact that they have to bother opening them at all in order to 'deal’ with you.  Maybe the collapsed socialist experiment has left a residue of apathy and indifference amongst its people. Regardless, we were pointed in the right direction and found ourselves on a crappy bus to the beach. 

On the bus, we met a couple of French guys and swapped a few stories before being dropped in the middle of Sozopol where we borrowed a phone to call our hotel.  Within minutes our host arrived on a scooter and took our luggage and gave very vague directions in marginal English.  Distracted by the conversation with the French, we made our way to the hotel only to find a map would have helped.  Did he say go up this giant hill, or steps?  Was it in the old town?  Both of us were tired, hot and annoyed with each other so we did what any rational couple would do.  We stopped for a beer.  After someone finally gave us a better idea of where to go, we made our way up a hill to our hotel where Erica made it clear that maybe a map would have been a good idea. Ironically their business cards had a map on it.

Despite a rough introduction to the town, the room was great and we had a tiny balcony with a fantastic view filled with blue skies and a blue sea.  I took the opportunity to remind Erica that her proposed travel schedule had us on the road for 8 out of 14 days and that perhaps eliminated some stops on the way to Croatia might be a good idea.  At least for me, spending three or four extra days on a beach sounds a lot better than spending them on a cross country bus.

After a shower we ventured down the hill to the main strip of the ‘new town’ which was everything you could expect from a small tourist beach town with all the tackiness of eastern European flair.  Tacky T-shirts, cheap souvenirs, ice cream shops, and a lot of ladies wearing very little.  We walked up and down the ‘board walk’ and settled on a busy outdoor restaurant featuring some interesting taxidermy and a nice looking hostess.

The service was pleasant, the wine was affordable and surprisingly good and whatever I ate was satiating.  However, the exciting bit was that we were in the middle of a bizzaro version of a Florida beach town.  Four girls next to us, all with ‘enhancements’, sat and picked at their salads while families wearing inappropriately neon hats and socks with sandals powered through big plates of meat.  Sozopol was my kind of place.  A long day of travel ended pleasantly with perfect beach weather and we were looking forward to adjusting to such a different, yet strangely familiar culture.
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