I thought a little blast from the past was in order today.
Last March, Vince and I took an incredible road trip across Bulgaria. Our visit to Veliko Tarnovo was a highlight, but nearly breaking my ankle there really put a damper on the trip (click on the Veliko Tarnovo link below for the full story). After almost a year my ankle only recently stopped hurting. I wish we had been able to take another road trip this year, but life got in the way.
I leave Bulgaria and expat life behind tomorrow. Even though I won’t be living here anymore, I will always feel deeply connected to this amazing country. I hope this connection has shone through in my blog.
Here are the previous posts in the series, if you want to take a look (and why wouldn’t you?!):
- Hisarya & Kalofer
- Shipka, Gabrovo, & Etar
- Veliko Tarnovo
- Sun, Sea, & Snacks in Sozopol
- Sunny Beach (Wordless Wednesday)
I’ve had such great comments and feedback on this series so far. I truly enjoy sharing my travels and photography with others. So thanks, ya’ll!
Now on to the gorgeousness that is the Bulgarian Black Sea coast!
Our first stop was Nessebar (Несебър), a small island connected to the mainland by an isthmus. This picturesque little spot on the sea was charming as could be. I’ve heard the place is completely packed in the summer months, but it was pretty much just Vince, myself, and a few locals here and there. That’s really how all of our stops were–deserted, quiet, and calm. I would love to head back to all of our stops during the summer months, but I am so happy that I was able to experience them without the crowds of tourists. I feel they are their more authentic selves in the off season.
Nessebar is a photographers paradise–small and easily navigable on foot, sun drenched fishing boats float lazily in the sea, the sound of seagulls ever present, and medieval churches stand strong amongst the newer structures.
I could have lazed about on the island for hours. Instead, we walked around a bit, drove the entire perimeter of the island, and I snapped photos throughout.
We were tired from a long day of driving (through a snow storm) so we left Nessebar headed into Burgas (Бургас) to meet up with our friend, B., who were were staying with for 2 nights.
We all went out for a dinner at a restaurant that B. said was one of the best in the city. The food was delicious but the live music was awful! It made for a hilarious evening (with quite a bit of alcohol to drown out the singer).
The next day, Vince and I headed to the city’s Maritime Park, a beautiful spot with stunning views of the sea. We ate our lunch on a bench and reveled in some old-fashioned people watching (my favorite pastime). There were countless numbers of mothers walking their babies in strollers, old men reading newspapers, families playing in the park, and, truth be told, one shifty-eyed tweeker who made me slightly nervous. The weather was warm and sunny and I could already tell it was going to be a fantastic day.
After our lunch we were on the road to Sozopol (Созопол), the city–located on a small peninsula–is the oldest settlement on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.
Other than a few Russian tourists, Vince and I had most of the old town to ourselves. We found a great spot on the far corner of the peninsula to take photos and take in the area with our binoculars.
Here’s a short video I took from that spot:
Like Nessebar, Sozopol is an amazing place to stroll through at your own pace. The small peninsula (Sozopol’s Old Town) is small enough that it’s quite easy to see everything on foot and it makes for a wonderful place to enjoy the Black Sea.
After wandering around for a bit, both on foot and in the car, we made our way to one of the only open cafés that we could find. Luckily, it was located right next to the water and offered great views of Sozopol’s Town Beach.
See more photos here.
On our walk to the café, we passed an active archaeological dig next to the town’s church. They had a few walls uncovered and were painstakingly sifting through the dirt and rubble. I am a complete history geek (and had even considered majoring in archaeology in college) and was thrilled to see a live dig site.
**Weird coincidence… I took a break in writing this to eat dinner, and a news story on this exact site came on while we were eating! Apparently, they found an ancient fireplace with a bunch of preserved dishes and things inside. That is the translation I got from Vince at least!
After getting our fill of the town, we headed back to Burgas for another dinner out with B.
We left the city early the next morning and got back onto the road towards home. We made a brief stop (got lost really) in Stara Zagora. I think by this point, both Vince and I were ready to get back to Smolyan, so we didn’t spend the night in Plovdiv as we had originally planned, but we did stop at the mall for a quick lunch.
A few hours later and we were home! Tired from the long drive, but so happy with how the trip went. The weather, for the most part, could not have been better, we ate delicious food, saw some beautiful spots in Bulgaria, and got to spend some quality time with each other.
The biggest thing I took away from our trip was the realization of just how geographically varied Bulgaria is. All in one trip we went from the mountainous Rhodpes, to the low-lying Thracian plains (full of grape vineyards), to the snow-capped peaks of the Stara Planina, finally ending at the sunny Black Sea coast. It was amazing to see so many different landscapes in the span of only a few days.
We barely broke the surface of Bulgaria’s historical and geographical highlights. I see a lot more explorations and adventures in the country ahead of us.
This is the last of the destination posts in this series. I do have one more planned detailing all the delicious food we ate (I am a fat kid, what can I say?!). I also shot a few videos that I may put up eventually–if I find the energy to edit them and somehow manage to get over how obnoxious my voice sounds on recordings!
And I am sure lots more photos from the trip will find their way onto the blog on Wordless Wednesdays or other posts. I took so many it was hard to pick a few for each post! And many of them will also show up on my Flickr photostream at some point down the line. I am so far behind with updating my Flickr that it has just become a chore. But my goal is to have all of my Bulgaria photos up before I go to Alaska. Wish me luck!
As always, thanks for stopping by!