|I spent my last day in Kusadasi at the Aqua Fantasy Water Park (despite what you are thinking NO apparantly you are never too old). Its basically a water park full of pools and slides that also has a DJ blasting dance music full ball, for the benefit of all the little kids running around I can only assume. It was pretty funny, although I did avoid all the tunnel rides, mum always wanted me about razor blades hidden in chewing gum in those ones.
It wasn't too expensive to get in and we planned on a cheap day by taking my own food. On arrival though there was a food and drink nazi confiscating any edible or drinkable item as they scavenged through my bag. I made an executive decision that the chips and water could be sacrificed for the greater good of the more delectable baklava, orange juice and pretzels hidden deeper in the bag. Fortunately I did squirrel away some stuff cos the prices were outrageous, $5.50 for a bottle of water and $15 for a quarter chicken and chips. It was a really fun day, somewhat disconcerting though to see so many tubby children running around. How does a 5 year old end up with cellulite on his chest???
Yesterday I left Kusadasi at 4am and drove north to Izmir where I caught a flight back to Istanbul. After such an early start I didn't have much energy for sighseeing so instead started on a gastronomical exploration of the city, restaurant by resturant. Despite my life long aversion to the cinemas I thought it was a good place to kill some time, and I sat alone in a cinema watching a pirated copy of Transformers 2 that was so blurry I was starting to think it might be time for another cornea transplant, so instead slept through most of it.
From the city I caught the Metro out to the bus station and at 8pm jumped on the coach to head into Bulgaria, first stop the town of Varna on the Black Sea. It was a looong drive, with a freezing 2 hour stop at 1am for immigration, and I arrived in Varna at 5am with not a soul in sight.
Because I was going to be arriving so early I had made a reservation through a hostel booking website to check into a place that sounded pretty good. Finding the right bus was a mission, after trying to find an ATM to get money to catch the bus, and I was getting very tired and surly. About an hour later I was wandering the streets of what was obviously a residential area looking for the ‘Hotel Del Mar’.
Eventually, after another half hour of walking, I found the right street number but the address was definitely not a hotel. It was a virtual tip and the woman who answered the door looked like she hadn’t showered in weeks. She showed me a room that was covered in rubbish and had two beds so short that even I (not being known for my generous height) could not have slept on one. I think perhaps they formerly belonged to a couple of dwarves. Basically the place looked like a squat for midgets. I told the filthy woman I wasn’t going to stay and she didn’t take it well, so I beat a hasty retreat back to the bus stop and took the bus all the way back into town.
With no idea where to go from there and no obvious places to stay in the city I caught another bus half an hour in the opposite direction to the one place listed in my 1998 guide book and stumbled through the back streets to find this hostel. By this stage I was delirious with exhaustion and was so relieved to find a normal hostel, that I walked in, saw decent beds in a dorm room and promptly collapsed into bed, sound asleep in minutes.
When I got up this afternoon and headed into the ’village’ I was a little taken aback. There is nothing at all in the ‘town square’ except an ATM. There is a poorly stocked little supermarket and a dodgy restaurant down the road but that is it, not a single other thing to see or do. The guidebook says this country is famous for its yoghurt and that travellers should stock up on fibre pills as the food is likely to cause constipation. I am feeling a bit dubious about Bulgaria…despite its extraordinarily cheap beer at 80c a bottle.
My plan was so hot foot it through Bulgaria just to get to Serbia anyway so I think it just might be a quicker trip through than my initial thoughts (before I have to resort to Metamucil).