|I'm not sure what the hell we were thinking. It sounded gorgeous in our heads - ah yes, soaking up the rays on Bulgaria's east coast - the fantastic beaches, the surf, the sand, all in good company with the other Russian tourists... What could be wrong with that? Well, really there's nothing wrong with that, except for latitude. It's fricken October, and I don't know why were thinking that there might be some nice hot days to work with here. I think maybe I was in a September mode, or maybe it was that I was thinking the place is close to Turkey and Turkey is always hot on the coast right? WRONG!
It's freezing here right now. In fact, when we got off the train, it looked like it might even snow. Well, it didn't but it did rain a little. Then I took the time to read a bit more in the Lonely Planet where it says the beaches are too jam packed in July and August and the time to visit is the last two weeks of June and the first two of September. The book actually says "By October, the place is too quiet and it's just you and the dogs." We confirmed this fact this afternoon when we went to the local beach for a cup of coffee, and sure enough, once out on the sand itself, it was just us and a couple of dogs...
I suppose we should be great full, I mean we've had some fantastic beaches on other parts of the journey and who needs gigantic crowds of bathing suits overstuffed with Russians. I saw a postcard with a northern beach on it, Golden Sands, and it was wall to wall umbrellas from the beach side eateries all the way to the surf. Today, it's a lot more like an autumn walk along the Vancouver shoreline all bundled up with your scarf and a Starbucks. Not bad eh? It's just that we had a slightly different mind set. We'll get over it I'm sure. Up at Golden Sands beach, Bulgaria's second largest resort area, there was no one. We took the city bus up the coast the necessary 18 kilometres and we were dumped off on what looked like a road through a deserted parking lot. Walking just beyond the car park, we eventually emerged onto a cold, windswept beach crowded with stacked up tables and umbrella stands stored up for the winter. Everywhere there were a few people covering things up and battening down the hatches as though there was going to be a hurricane. Just normal winter prep though.
Unfortunately, the Bulgarians have taken to establishing discos and casinos right on the nice sandy beach, and today we could see all the beer soaked boardwalks and cigarette stained walls all being boarded up. They really like those coloured lights at the beach too. The whole affair sort of looked like a Coney Island type scene after a nuclear war. It was eerie. All the old soviet "resorts" in the background gave it a creepy feel. Nevertheless, the area is loaded with real estate offices, as buying Bulgarian beach property is the "in thing" with a lot of Europeans right now.
Varna is kind of nice though - it's not too big and it has a fantastic museum of archaeology that we paid a visit to. There wasn't a soul around, and the collection of early human habitation artefacts is just astounding. I didn't know this, but apparently the pre Thracian civilizations in this area pre-date those of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Did you know that? I always thought that the cradle of humanity was thought to be somewhere along the Euphrates in modern day Iraq or perhaps along the African rift valley, but many of the exhibits here claim to be carbon dated as far back as 7000 BC for easily recognizable tools, to as far as 100,000 years ago for prehistoric "chipped stone" type tools. Amazing the stuff you can learn in an afternoon! It makes me want to read up a little more on all the history. The other pretty good sight in town is the main Orthodox Church which has an interesting feel to it. Once inside, we were not sure if it was Turkey, or Iran, or Russia, or where. It had a really blended feel, largely due to the singing that was going on that made the place feel really Turkish. Such is the pull of the Bosporus that we spoke of earlier.
Anyway, many of you can get ready for your next postcard as 80 of them were shipped today. Now everyone knows how much I like this activity (Yawn), but who the hell sends so many???? We were forced to mail them all from Bulgaria due to the financial constraint imposed by the other European countries' postal rates. That and the little lady was way behind. Some of you will notice that you are receiving a Cambodian postcard written in Russia and mailed from Bulgaria. Yes, a truly international experience just for you. Yup, three nights accommodation worth of postage. Can you see the smoke coming from my ears??? I mean, it was even worse because they never have a single stamp to make up the amount, so you are stuck there for hours licking TWO smelly pieces of paper for each of the cards. Arghhh!!!!
I'm gonna kill the guy that invented postcards when I find him...