Monday, June 29, 2009

Varna in June

Jodie writes: On Friday evening, we headed to the airport for a short flight (40 minutes) to Varna. Varna is located on the eastern side of Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea. We’d been following the weather report all week which was predicting showers but we had blue skies and warm weather the whole weekend! Just another reminder not to trust the forecasts.

We arrived at our hotel around 9:00 pm. The hotel itself, Modus Hotel, was one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in – modern, very aesthetically designed, and very comfortable. And the location was perfect – 5 minutes' walk to the sea, and right next to the beginning of the pedestrian mall.

As our weekend package included a main meal, and we still hadn’t eaten, we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. Dinner was served on the small patio next to the dining room. What a meal! The waiters wore gloves when putting down our silverware, there were candles on the table, and everything was served to perfection. We shared a beautiful salad to start, and neither of us could resist ordering the lamb chops served with rice and spinach. The waitress brought out a small plate with a little white disc on it, and started to dribble water on it, and it grew – it was a wet cloth for wiping your hands! It was a delicious meal.

The next morning, we got up and walked to the beach through the park which was across the street from our hotel. We crossed the park and in 5 minutes we were at the beach. It was a nice, sandy beach. We rented chaise lounges and an umbrella and parked ourselves there for the day. The water was quite cold until you got used to it.


We were surprised to see the vendors selling corn on the cob on the beach. There were not too many customers.


We had lunch on the beach, and then went back to the hotel for a rest.


This is not an advertisement for Zagorka Beer.


In the Sea Gardens Park there were local women sitting at tables and selling hand-crocheted tablecloths of all different shapes and sizes and they were busy crocheting more while they sat there.

In the afternoon, we went for a walk on the pedestrian mall. There are a few long streets lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. Everyone was out strolling – families, teenagers, old women, and young women dressed as if for a wedding in their fancy short skirts and very high heels ( I don’t know where they’re going dressed like this. I think Bulgarian women just like to dress up – in most cases, the men they’re with are in jeans and T-shirts!)

As this is one week before the Bulgarian national elections, there were a lot of people handing out election propaganda. How nice not to be a part of this!

One of the most interesting things we saw on the pedestrian mall was a green stand with a long line of people who were waiting for popcorn. We didn't understand the interest in this particular stand, as there was another one 50 meters away without a single customer. Behind the more popular stand there was an old man who was making the popcorn, and people stood in line for at least 20 minutes until it was their turn. On Sunday, we were nearby when he opened his stand after his break, and decided that we had to see what was so special about this popcorn, so we bought a bag before the line started again. The popcorn was good, but I don’t understand why anyone would wait so long to buy it. When we walked back to our hotel the hotel workers recognized the bag, and were excited that we’d bought this man’s popcorn. They said he’s very well known all over, and everyone comes to buy his popcorn!

The Church of the Assumption = Varna's main landmark.


Sunday was another leisurely day. The park along the sea shore is huge. We took a long walk down tree-lined paths, with lots of flowers, statues and water fountains. There were bike riders, kids with roller blades, old people out for a walk. From there we walked down to the beach (the park runs parallel to the shore) and drank cocktails and read in a cafĂ© overlooking the sea. We also made a short visit to an art gallery, which wasn’t very impressive.

We went back to the pedestrian mall for a lunch of typical Bulgarian food – Shopska salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted pepper, onion and grated Feta cheese), crispy fried zucchini with yogurt, and the local favorite – a plate of fried sprat – small fish from the Black Sea – yummy!

We found Varna to be a very relaxing city, with families out together on the beach and the pedestrian walkway. We’ve heard that during the months of July-August, it becomes a different city when all the tourists arrive, but we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the sea. We’ll definitely go back!



We flew back to Sofia on Mon. morning, and came straight to work – grey skies, cool weather – I want to go back to the beach!

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