Last week we found out that we have a long weekend; September 6th is “Unification Day” in Bulgaria. So to take advantage of the 4-day weekend, we left Friday afternoon by bus across Bulgaria. Half of the trip was on a nice, modern 4-lane expressway, but after Plovdiv it’s two-lane until Burgas (a port city.) En route we were delayed at least an hour due to an accident; it looked like a empty car carrier had tried to overtake some traffic around a corner and had no other choice but to ditch his truck into the trees to avoid a head on collision. After clearing this our bus also began passing long lines of cars (as well as being passed) it is a wonder there are not more wrecks along this stretch. We arrive at our destination a little before midnight.
Sozopol is a quaint fishing village turned resort. It is well preserved/restored and not too touristy (at least the old town—the portion situated on the rocky point jutting out into the Black Sea where we stayed. Thanks to Delcho for clueing us into this location—we would have gone to Varna (think: Myrtle Beach) otherwise. I assumed we would see and hear a lot of (British) English and German since they are represent the highest precentage of visitors to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, but apparently Sozopol has not been discovered by foreign tourists yet.
The first picture showcases the rocky coast—which is actually relatively young since seawater found its way through the Bosporus Straight flooding the Black Sea only several thousand years ago. This picture is taken from across the bay—a new part of Sozopol. On the opposite side of the peninsula there is a spot where you can cliff dive from 12.8 meters; Delcho’s friend Stefan demonstrated, and I wanted to go back and do it later, but never could find anyone to ‘spot’ me. The next picture is of the guesthouse where we stayed for 4 nights (or days in Paris' case.) This is the typical—and famous—style of old builings in Sozopol. Below that is our host tending to his fishing nets. They spoke Bulgarian, and only a smattering of English, German, & Spanish. However, between that and the little Bulgarian we knew, we actually got along very well—we talked about music, travel, etc. Best of all, our rooms were only 10 leva per night—I don’t how they can continue to exist with those prices. The final picture of that of the beach; if you blow it up and look real carefully you might even see some top1essness!
I didn’t really do much but sit in the sun (water & wind was a little to cool for me) and read. I finished Balkan Ghosts by Robert D. Kaplan. It is an excellent primer on the history of this region from Hungary to Greece. It recounts continuous cycle of wars, recriminations, atrocities, dictatorships, and mutual hatred that is ubiquitous in Balkan history. The author explores the ethnic, political, and religious influences of the last 600+ years beginning with the Byzantine Empire’s rule that segued into Turkish oppression, all the way up to Milosevic and a prediction of the events of the late 1990’s. Really explains a lot!
Monday night we went to a Jazz concert that was part of the greater Apolonia Festival taking place in Sozopol this week with Delcho and friends. You know I'm not a big fan, but it was interesting—jazz with an eastern influenced, and the ticket was only 6 leva.
Tuesday evening we took a bus to Burgas in order to catch the overnight train back to Sofia. Actually got some sleep in the bunks before arriving at 5:30. Slept another good 2 hours in my own bed and then got up for language class at 9:30.
This weekend we are off on another excursion—the Rila Monastery. I know it sounds like I’m having too much fun with too little work. Now you know why I chose to do this.
Your paper work is in order
Oh, I nearly forgot; Friday before we left, we went to the police station for the last time (this year at least) to pick up our “lichna karta.” I am now officially a (temporary) Bulgarian, entitled to all the prevailing discounts!