Wino Forever

Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
Trip End Aug 07, 2011

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Where I stayed
Yo Ho Hostel Varna
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Bulgaria  , Varna,
Sunday, July 31, 2011

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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