Get In: Bus from Veliko Tarnovo 9 Euros/person
Stay: Varna Campsite and Black Sea Cottage private room 20 Euros/night
Relaxing on the Black Sea Coast
Visiting Bulgaria in the summer and not having at least one stop on the Black sea coast is kind of like visiting Paris and never seeing the Eiffel tower. We knew we had to experience it, but had trouble deciding where exactly we should go.
The Black Sea coast is famous for tacky resort towns overrun by trashy tourists, being built up with soviet era block hotels and small little sleepy villages far from everything. We were looking for something in between; a place that had beach, good bars, a big city, and of course, sights to see. One place seemed to fit the bill perfectly. We headed to Bulgaria’s “summer capital” Varna.
We tried our luck with Couchsurfing, and our new friend Martin graciously accepted to host us for a couple days. Upon our arrival, he very generously offered to pick us up from the bus station. Within a few minutes it was clear that we had made the right decision. Our first night, Martin and his friend took us out to experience some of the local nightlife. We started with a delicious dinner on the waterfront, and then we hit the bars. We had our choice from a huge strip of different bars lining the beach, all of them packed with people and extremely cheap beers. We picked one with live music, and partied until late in the night. Not wanting to end the evening early, we then headed to a second bar at the top of Varna’s fanciest hotel with a wonderful view of the city, and of course locals singing karaoke. I think our 5 AM bedtime is a testament to the evening’s festivities.
The next morning, feeling a little hungover and tired, we were treated to some delicious breakfast by Martin’s mom. Nothing tops homemade Tarator soup.
It was hard to get started, but Tim and I managed to get up and join the Varna free walking tour. The tour was a perfect way for us to see all the famous sights, get some history of the city, and learn more about Bulgarian culture. We even met some fellow Canadians along the way! At one point we arrived to a small bridge that is apparently very magical. If you make a wish, close your eyes, and walk across the bridge backwards, your wish will come true. Everyone in the group took a turn, and we all cheered each other on as people walking by were entertained. Tim made a stop motion video of the tour, so you can enjoy a glimpse of it.
After the tour ended, our new Canadian friends joined us and Martin for some dinner and a nice relaxed evening of having drinks on the beach. We had originally planned to leave Varna after two days, but we really wanted to spend more time on the beach.
Unfortunately Martin already had plans, so we checked into a nice campsite/hostel outside the center of the city, near a bunch of beach resorts. The idea of sleeping in a tent and waking up to the scorching hot sun didn’t interest me, so we I opted for a private room. It felt so nice to be staying in a house with a communal kitchen and lovely people. We stayed there 2 nights, and for the first time in a very long time, we cooked dinner 2 nights in a row.
Our last 2 days in Varna were spent chilling on the beach, chatting with the other guests at the hostel, and getting ourselves ready for the much anticipated journey to Turkey.
Although our time in Bulgaria was short, it is definitely a country I plan on visiting again someday. It really has something to offer for everyone; great beaches in the summer and ski resorts in the winter. Mix that with friendly people, great food, and a seemingly endless supply of ruins and historical buildings, you have the recipe for a perfect vacation.