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Long wait in Varna

Burgas, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo


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As soon as we'd had breakfast at the hotel in Burgas, we took a taxi to the west bus station.

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We arrived at 10.30 and noticed that the next bus directly to Veliko Tarnovo wasn't until 13.30, so we decided just to get the next bus to Varna instead. I knew that about 20 buses a day go from Varna to VT, so hopefully we could just hop on one of them soon after and then arrive back in VT early.

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That wasn't to be, unfortunately - our bus arrived in Varna OK, between 13.00 and 14.00, but the next ETAP bus wasn't until 17.30! We were too knackered to go into the city centre to kill time, so we just looked round the Grand Mall Varna instead, which is right next to the bus station. We looked round, had some food and played a lot of 10-card rummy. It was very similar to shopping malls everywhere, though suspended from the ceiling were some beautiful decorations made from multicoloured paper.

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We didn't get back to Veliko Tarnovo until 9 pm last night, so before we went to bed and conked out we didn't do anything apart from have a hot drink with 'F' and 'R'.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:46 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast buses dave bulgaria burgas varna veliko_tarnovo black_sea Comments (0)

Burgas: Ethnographical museum and Happy Bar & Grill

Burgas


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On our return to Burgas we made a beeline for the wonderful-looking ice cream shop I mentioned in a previous blog entry, but unfortunately it was closed. It was only about 3pm, but it had started raining, so maybe that was why it wasn't open.

The archaeological museum was also closed, due to painting work, so we set off to the ethnographical museum instead. This was set inside a small historic house; on the ground floor the living room was decorated and furnished like it would have been when it was built in the 19th century.

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There were also some examples of very intricately worked and engraved metal jewellery - my favourite was the large pendant with a face in it - coloured cloth from a village near Burgas and a facsimile of an old photo of female traditional folk-singers from the local region.

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Upstairs there was traditional female and male dress from various local villages; this included working clothes from Bulgarian immigrants to Asia Minor, wedding clothes and special clothes for Easter, St Lazar's Day (the day before Palm Sunday, this has various traditions attached to it), Midsummer's Day and other specific days. I liked the costume for male Christmas carol singers as well.

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We left when the museum closed at five o'clock. We relaxed at the hostel until it was time for dinner, which we had at a Bulgarian chain restaurant called 'Happy Bar & Grill'. This chain hasn't appeared in Veliko Tarnovo yet. It had a very modern interior, with one large TV screen showing a match from the Madrid Masters tennis tournament and two smaller ones showing 'TV's Funniest Videos'.

They had several menus, including the main menu, a sushi menu and a strawberry menu! From the latter we ordered a strawberry & banana smoothie to share. Dave was ecstatic when he saw edamame beans with salt in the main menu, so we had some of that to share as an appetiser, along with a piece of salmon sashimi each from the sushi menu. For our mains, we shared a stuffed grilled courgette and green salad, and had something separate each as well. I had steak and potato wedges and Dave had salmon and trout with grilled vegetables. We had just enough room for dessert, so I had some créme brulée and Dave had a blueberry waffle. A veritable feast, and the whole lot for the equivalent of £25!

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When we stepped outside we saw that it had stopped raining, so we walked to the seafront again. There's a park by the seafront and we were very taken with the giant model of a tropical fish which stood by the entrance. On our bus journeys out of town today and yesterday we had noticed more of these fish - I think they were connected to a National Geographic convention going on somewhere in Burgas around this time.

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Posted by 3Traveller 10:38 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast museum dave bulgaria burgas black_sea traditional_customs Comments (0)

Fine dining in Burgas

Burgas


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Edit from January 2019: Restaurant Rose is still going strong!

After we arrived back from our lovely outing to Sozopol, we topped the day off with a fine dining experience. This was definitely a notch above where we usually eat when we go out for dinner, but with even fine dining in Bulgaria costing the same as an inexpensive restaurant in the UK, we thought why not?

Our destination was a place round the corner called Restaurant Rose. Usually in Bulgaria (and Ecuador), dishes just come out when they're ready; apart from desserts, courses aren't adhered to. This has never been a problem for me at all, but it did mean that when our starters here came before the main courses, it felt like a novelty! We both had soup - Dave had chicken, I had cream of spinach with crumbled goat's cheese. Both were extremely tasty.

Our mains were just as delicious. My pappardelle pasta with mushrooms and cheese sauce was amazing - the mushrooms in particular were absolutely divine, so incredibly flavoursome and juicy my mouth still waters when I think about them! Dave had a chicken fillet with hazelnut quinoa, cucumber and a white sauce that he raved about.

For pudding we had intended to have a chocolate ice cream from the ice cream shop opposite, but while we were still inside the restaurant we saw it close its shutters. This was a shame, because it had pictures of a Mr Whippy- type of soft ice cream made up of normal and chocolate ice cream swirled in together. I was particularly keen to try it. I suppose it was for the best that it had closed, though, seeing as we were a bit too full for it really after our mains. To help our digestions a bit, we walked to the seafront and back after leaving the restaurant.

Dave saved the day for us back at the guesthouse. We were lying in bed with both the main light and a lamp on, but the lamp was out of our viewpoint. Suddenly Dave said he could smell burning! It turned out that the lamp, which had no lampshade round the bulb, had tipped over and started burning the front cover of my paperback. If left longer, the book may well have started smouldering, or even gone up in flames! Well done Dave!

Photo taken from our balcony earlier;

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Posted by 3Traveller 05:59 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast hotel dave bulgaria burgas black_sea Comments (0)

Roman baths and the Varna Gold Treasure

Varna and Burgas


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Our bus to Burgas didn't leave until 15.00, so we had all morning and early afternoon to explore Varna further. Our destinations were the Roman thermae (public baths) and the Archaeological Museum.

After breakfast we checked out and put our rucksacks in the hostel's luggage storage before heading out to the thermae.

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These ruins are expansive and well preserved; enough of the walls survive for the layout of the different rooms to be seen clearly - the changing rooms, frigidarium (cold pool), tepidarium (warm pool), caldarium (hot pool)...

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...an amazing hypocaust and the toilet area (down a level and in a cloistered area).

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Our experience was heightened even more by the sunshine, lush greenery and flowering bushes. We were also the only people there the entire time!

From there we walked on to the Archaeology Museum, via some lunch and a lovely small park containing fountains, a flower market and lots of purple-blossomed trees.

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The museum was very interesting and we had enough time to look round all of it at a leisurely pace. We saw the famous Varna gold treasure (possibly the oldest worked gold in the world), very early Christian crosses, Thracian and Roman artifacts and statues, a large mosaic from the Episcopal Temple of Odessos (Roman Varna), the skeleton of a Copper Age 10/12-year-old child, some wonderful vividly coloured icons (some very old) and weapons and pottery from the Stone, Copper and Bronze Ages.

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Back at Yo-Ho Hostel their printer wasn't working, so instead of printing out a street map of the route from the bus station to our guesthouse in Burgas, I drew it on a piece of paper. We took a taxi from there to the private bus station, where we got straight onto a minibus to Burgas. The woman at the ticket desk had told me we had to pay the driver, not her, so we did so before we got on. 14 leva each for a two-and-a-half-hour journey - not bad!

We saw some incredibly green, lush, hilly scenery in the first half of the journey, with occasional views of the sea. Every now and then we passed through a small village with leafy vines growing on frames over the pavements and in people's front gardens. Once we had passed the unlovely town of Sunny Beach, the landscape flattened out into fields.

On arrival in Burgas we had some problems getting to the guesthouse. They'd said that they were only five minutes' walk from the bus station, but we couldn't find them anywhere - and the roads didn't tally at all with the ones on my drawn map. One of them had the same or very similar name. We wandered around for a while before giving up and getting a taxi. It was only once I'd got my hands on a free Burgas city map from the guesthouse reception that I realised what the problem had been - we'd arrived at a different bus station to the one on my map. My guidebook had said that all arrivals from and departures to coastal destinations are at the south bus station, but we'd arrived at the west one, quite a way out from the city centre! Oh well - we'd got there in the end and were settled into our guesthouse, which was a very clean, modern one, like a hotel.

We had dinner at a pizza restaurant round the corner; I had tarator and we shared a pizza and some mozzarella balls. Fireworks went off as we waited for our food to arrive, but we couldn't see them, only hear the bangs!

Posted by 3Traveller 03:40 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged coast market museum hostel buses dave burgas varna black_sea roman_remains bulgarian_cuisine Comments (0)

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