Paris to Istanbul by Bicycle 2007 travel blog

Entrance to the 'Stone Forest' on the road to Varna

50 million year old stalagmites that look like temple ruins

The lovely view towards the sea from our hotel room window ....

A nice, shady boulevard in front of our hotel

This is typically how the water looks after we wash out our...

Then it was down to the beach.........

Randy, our tour leader, joins a gig in one of the plazas...

.... to the appreciation of some of the riders

The beaches were so pretty here .......

......... and not too busy

We had dinner on the waterfront for my birthday

I was quite sad to leave Varna

Next morning - yes, yet another early start! Up at 5am and convoying out of Sumen to do the final 104 Kms to Varna. The journey has now become a gruelling test of endurance for me (although many of the other (maybe stronger) riders have enjoyed every inch of the way) but guess what? Today I was feeling great! I pushed out of town with Bruce and right behind the Big Boys up front, and I motored! That's what NOT riding 160Km the day before with the Three H's will do for you (that's Heat, Headwinds and Hills)! Not only I, but others at our lunch stop, were very surprised to see me come in so soon and asked if I'd done a short cut somewhere! But no, I did it all. It was also gently rolling countryside with hardly any traffic and no headwinds and I was going gangbusters. I think I even gave Bruce a bit of a ride at times, because he was still so tired from the day before! (Hey, I'll take any equalizer I can get - I'm not proud! :) Got slowed up a bit after lunch though (lunch was around 10 in the morning, by the way, because we started out so early) and then I got a short reality check in the afternoon when the road became very hard to ride (lumpy stones sticking up out of the tarmac) plus headwinds and a bit of a climb. Felt like I'd thrown out a boat anchor. But then it changed again and I was fine, and we moved pretty smartly on into Varna after that. Reached our hotel before 1pm - yay!!

It feels so wonderful to be here! I feel we have reached civilization after wandering in the wilderness for too long. It's strange to look out of our hotel window and see the ocean! (Not to mention Mosques and MacDonalds side by side.) Varna is a very touristy city and our hotel - the Chernomore - is a very nice one located right in the heart of the main pedestrian mall going down to the beach. There's also a large casino in the hotel. Bruce and I (after doing laundry and hanging it out on a line on our balcony) immediately walked down to the white sand beach to get our feet into the Black Sea. This is our first sight of the ocean since we left home nearly two months ago! Very exciting. Did I mention it's lovely to be here? Plus, our bike cases showed up at the hotel, delivered by Bruce's friend's cousin at 5pm - so hey, fantastic!

The general consensus is that we like Bulgaria and you can keep Romania. Romanian countryside is lovely, but the people in Bulgaria have gone out of their way to be helpful and friendly to us. Today, my birthday, is going to be just a rest and relax day...............

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