Crazy Bulgarians, Casinos, and Getting Engaged
Where have you been, NEN? is the question absolutely none of you have asked!
So I’ll tell you all about it anyway!
I went off on holiday for a week in Golden Sands, Bulgaria! Having got through the week without being kidnapped or sex-trafficked, we’re back happy and loved it… and we’re engaged – but more of that later!
We got a last-minute bargain for the five star Melia Hotel. This literally lead directly onto the beach, was huge, clean, and had just about everything you could need.
Everybody in the reviews complained about the food in the hotels, whilst it’s also common knowledge that in general food in Bulgaria is excellent – so we took the sensible decision and went Bed & Breakfast, and got out there and found local food from the restaurants. It was a bloody good move, too. I’d recommend trying their House Special Pork, shark fillets, and the pancakes!
So Bulgaria – what the Hell is it?
It’s somewhere I’d never even considered before – especially for a seaside holiday! I was hoping for Croatia, but it seems that’s been ‘discovered’ now and prices are all through the roof. One look at a few pics of the beaches along the Black Sea in Bulgaria sold it to me! If you have no idea where it is, it’s near Turkey, so obviously has that kind of Mediteranean climate on the coast, with vast mountains and forresty bits inland which are home to a popular Winter skiing season. And they have bears!
I decided straight away I was going to give myself a crash course in Bulgarian, even though most of them allegedly spoke-a de Engrish. Having never even heard a word of it spoken before, I found I soon picked up a fair bit of ‘tourist Bulgarian’, and by the end of the week was pretty good! It’s well worth making the effort to at least learn ‘please’ (‘MOH-lya’) and ‘thank you’ (‘blag-o-DAH-ryah’), because they appreciate the effort as much as we do when we hear a foreigner speaking our language. A lot of people said the Bulgarians were moody, but I found after a few words they were very friendly. It’s just polite, man…
The sun was very hot, but on some days we had a cool breeze and even some clouds to cool things down. To be honest that was perfect for my blue skin, and I’m now tanned to a very nice whitish colour and didn’t burn ONCE! They’ll all be sad to see the whitest legs in Bulgaria leaving them.
With the exception of the odd club/bar flyer, we weren’t harassed by ‘Poncho’s handing out/selling crap every ten seconds – unlike in Spain, for example.
Taxi drivers were a different story… One even followed us all the way around, being very rude and aggressive in an attempt to get us into his cab (great tactic there?!). I used my best Bulgarian to explain we didn’t want him, and thanked him, and even told him we were getting a bus and just wanted to WALK! He dropped his price to a fare just perfect for kidnappers and murderers, and eventually called me ‘Garbage’ and a ‘Moron’ before pissing off.
On the flip-side, on the way back from the city of Varna, we found the taxi rank filled with riot Police in full gear. We were offered a taxi from some huge bloke, who we followed as he said he was parked a little down the road because of the Police. After a long walk through several car parks I’d already advised my girlfriend to run if it wasn’t a fully marked cab or anything went loud… and had freed up my right hand and was sizing the filthy Gypsy-Lummox up ready to smash him and run, when we arrived at his car. As it turned out he was very nice, and had learned several languages just from driving his cab. You have to be switched on when you’re using the taxi’s over there, though…
I’d read that the average price for a pint of lager was 0.6 Lev (around 30p), but being in a bit of a tourist trap with no way of even finding the ‘local’ places off the beaten track, we soon found we were paying 4 Lev at most places! Still good at less than £2 per pint, but a Hell of a lot more than expected, so that hurt! Meals are pretty much what you want to pay. My Battered Shark Fillet and chips was 10 Lev (£5), and the most expensive pork in beautiful white wine sauce was a massive 22 Lev. On our day in Varna city we ate in a Chinese restaurant and cocked up so that we ended up with three HUGE plates of food (easily enough to fill two people each), and with our drinks on top it was under 20 Lev!!! I believe their average wage is around 200 Lev per month!
I also crossed the casino experience off my Bucket List on our final night. I cashed in a 50 Lev note, expecting a massive pile of chips, and got one. Yes – ONE chip. Being a bit gutted, and feeling a lot lost, I headed to a roulette table and placed it on red. The Poncho in charge called over the floor manager, and another few Casino Poncho’s also drifted over giving me funny looks. I won, getting two chips and some strange sounds from the assembled Poncho’s. I was a bit embarrassed, thinking they were taking the piss out of me for betting so little… As it turns out, I later found out I was supposed to cash in that one chip at the table for a huge stack of chips, which I’d effectively bet the lot of. No matter – I lost a few games, but won many more to walk away with £150, which I promptly cashed.
Casino’s are very boring places. That had all taken around 10 or 15 minutes. We killed more time on the one armed bandit machines before heading off for another few pints of Kamenitza.
I have to admit that I thought Golden Sands was walkable from Sunny Beach and Nessebar (the main resorts), and was a bit gutted to find they were a 2 hour drive away! Another tip here is NOT to fly to Burgas airport as we did if you’re stopping in Golden Sands. If we’d got a flight to Varna it would have been 15 mins away rather than 3 hours…
We did bite the bullet and get a day in Nessebar – a beautiful ancient fortification on an island around 800 metres by 400 metres, with cobbled streets, and the ruins of temples and religiousy stuff.
And what better place was there than here, atop some ruins overlooking the blue ocean, to get down on one knee, producing the ring I’d kept hidden all the holiday, and present it to my girlfriend as I told her I’d love her forever, and would she marry me?