Day 16: Today I Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

There comes a time in every trip that we start to get pretty spent and need to take a day to recharge.  Today was that day.  We woke up after a bit of a sleep in to find that it was absolutely pouring rain.  And not just Vancouver rain.  The walk from the door of the hotel, literally around the corner to the hotel’s restaurant resulted in Pa’s rain jacket getting soaked through.  Not even a 2 minute walk.  Add to that a ton of wind.  We decided that rather than walk into town in the rain, get soaked, be wet and miserable and have to hope that our clothes dry out before we have to pack up tomorrow to head to the next town was unappealing and hung out in our hotel room, watched TV, read, talked about books.

We did head down to the hotel restaurant for a late lunch as the innkeeper had made the Bulgarian version of moussaka and I was eager to try it, and Pa was too, and it was everything I hoped it would be – meat and potatoes, baked into a comforting casserole.  Our sweet innkeeper, with whom we communicate through his broken English, my broken Russian and Ma’s broken German gave us a handful of shells from the beach as a souvenir from the Black Sea and advised that he was closing up shop for the season on Saturday and heading back to Vienna for the winter.

We paid our bill and Pa went and got some provisions for the rest of the afternoon/evening, hoping to get some sleep before the journey to our penultimate city for this trip, Plovdiv.


Day 15: This Ship Has Sailed

We were up early today, eager to eat breakfast and head over to the ferry that we had reservations for the would take us across the bay to the town of Nessebar.  We left our hotel to high wind and grey sky with Gravol in tow and headed back towards the old town, over to the Fish Port on the far side.  We found the kiosk – closed.  In true us fashion, we were there pretty early, so we decided to wait and walk around the marina, looking at the moored vessels.  Pa then asked a guy wearing a high visibility vest (Sozopol Port Authority?) if we were at the right spot, and he advised us as best as he could that “everything closed”.  When our time of departure rolled around, sure enough there was no ferry and no one at the kiosk, so we gave up on our Nessebar dreams and decided to have a lazy day around Sozopol.


We decided to spend the morning walking the length of the peninsula and getting lost in the lanes and small streets of the old town.


We discovered even more old wooden houses and small little churches.  We also discovered that in Sozopol residents do this thing where they post what looks like a flyer of a deceased relative on the front door of their houses.  What they say, I have no idea and I’m not sure if it’s a Bulgarian, Sozopol or Eastern Orthodox  custom.  We have also discovered that locals (in Romania and Hungary as well) think we’re English, and the English we meet assume we’re Americans, until we tell them and they immediately apologize.


Despite the grey start to the day, the sun started to come out and humidity was at a high, although the wind was still strong.  We walked up and down small cobbled streets, said hello to passersby and workers boarding up businesses after the season.


We made it to the tip of the peninsula and watched the water break on the rocks, acknowledging that at this point, this is the farthest east the 3 of us had been (so far in Europe) and that directly across the Black Sea from us was Georgia.


We wandered back to the centre of the old town and relaxed under a patio umbrella with some coffee and soft drinks.  Then, almost out of the blue, the rain came.  It was still warm and humid and we were cozy under the umbrella, so we just enjoyed it.

After a few minute the rain let up and we walked out of the old town, past our hotel and south towards Sozopol’s other beach, Harmanite Beach


Harmanite Beach is larger and quieter than Central Beach with apparently a lot of beach-side bistros and restaurants, but like most things, they were all shut and boarded up for the season.  The wind was getting stronger and whipping up some pretty big waves, although no surfers were to be seen taking advantage of it.


We found a cute little cafe and had a long, leisurely late lunch of beer, fries, kebab and schnitzel.  By 1600hrs, we were tired and wind battered, so Ma and Pa went off to find a a grocery store to get some snack food while I stood on a bluff by a little church and watched the waves.  Again, the sun started to come and I thought that maybe we’d have a beautiful sunset, but as quickly as it had come out, the sun was again behind the clouds and a nearby flash and boom indicated that it was time for me to back away from the water and head back to the hotel, where I met with Ma and Pa and we had a hotel room beer picnic for dinner and an early night.


Day 14: Hellenistic on Wheels

Today we were up early and out the door by 0900hrs, heading for our easternmost stop on the trip, Sozopol, an old Thracian settlement on the Black Sea.  The Bulgarian coast on the sea is a pretty popular party area, especially in cities such as Varna and Sunny Beach, but because we’re not a partying bunch and are history nerds, we decided on Sozopol.

We decided to hire a driver, so we had sweet and professional Ivan drive us out.  Ivan was very knowledgeable about the area we were driving through and offered his CD wallet for us to pick the tunes.  Sadly for me, whether it be on a plane, boat or back seat of a comfortable vehicle, I tend to get motion sickness, so I popped a ginger-chew Gravel and dozed off.

We pulled into resort town of Sozopol around 1400hrs and after a bit of a run-around, found our quaint, family run Hotel Hedy.  We grabbed some lunch (another Shopska salad for me, so good!) and went down to hit the beach.  Our hotel is between two different beaches, Central Beach being a 3 minute walk and Harmanite Beach being a 4 minute walk, so we chose the 3 minute walk.


We have had beautiful sunny weather pretty much every day of this trip, and the day we get to the beach, it’s cloudy and windy.  It was, however, and very manageable 22C degrees, so Ma and I took our boots off, felt the sand in our toes and dipped our feet in the Black Sea.


As I previously said, Sozopol is a resort town, and we caught the very end of the season.  No one else was out on the beach, no surfers in the water, no one relaxing in cabanas or lounge chairs.


Although we were all feeling pretty tired, we decided to walk the length of the beach and at least head up to the old town at the tip of the peninsula for a minute.  The wind had really kicked up and many restaurants were closed and boarded up.  Although I was mildly disappointed about the slightly stormy weather, I also delighted in it, because it reminds me of the Pacific Ocean at home, the salt water air perfuming my clothes and the wind whipping my hair.


As I said before, we chose Sozopol because it has some pretty old history, and we started to get reenergized seeing old structures, like this ancient Hellenistic cathedral in ruins from years 7 BC – 5 BC.


Some of the medieval landmarks of Sozopol are old wooden houses and structures, so we wandered deeper into the enchanting old town to get an eyeful.


After a few hours of wandering and picking up some postcards, we decided to grab a light dinner in the old and head home, just beating the impending rain.