I have been busy lately. I stayed a few more days in Plovdid, occasionally hanging out with Yoanna. We walked for hours on Sunday, from the Old Town past Liberator’s Hill that we climbed the previous day to Leisure and Culture Park and then to the massive Rowing Canal by the Plovdiv Stadium. In the evening we stopped for a few drinks in The Trap, then strolled through Tsar Simeon’s Garden. The fountains were not operating that night, but I returned the next evening to sit and enjoy the show a bit. We took a break in the early afternoon to enjoy some sushi at Happy, a restaurant by the square. Late in the evening we snacked on some crepes at a local fast food restaurant. She insists after much research that the city was originally built on nine hills, two of which have since been demolished. I’m still not sure I’m buying it though. Monday I mostly relaxed at the hostel, with an occasional excursion for food at the same nearby fast food place. You can’t beat two slices of pizza for 2 Lev.
After breakfast on Tuesday I caught a cab to the north bus station and bought a ticket for Burgas, a town on the coast of the Black Sea. I arrived a bit too late to enjoy the beach, but early enough to explore the city. There is a long pedestrian walkway in the center that leads to the most popular beach, which was fairly uncrowded. I say “most popular” because Burgas is almost entirely surrounded by water. Dinner consisted of pasta with a creamy cheese sauce at a local restaurant. I really should refrain from eating at restaurants so often, but most meals cost less than 10 Lev, so it’s easy to budget even with eating out twice a day.
Returning to the hostel I was invited to play cards with a group of other travelers, and we were soon joined by more. By the time our group reached a dozen persons there were too many conversations going to get thru a game of cards, so we all just sat around the tables and drank until 0200. Most of us called it a night at this point, except Jordan, a Boston native that now lives in Seattle. He was adamant about staying up until 0300, when his fantasy football draft opened up back in the states. I guess we all have our priorities. In the morning I had a quick breakfast at the hostel and headed straight for the beach. I brought my travel towel, and as I picked a spot in the sand and started setting up camp an older couple said “No, no! Take the chair!” I hadn’t grabbed it because many places in the Balkans charge to use the beach chairs. But that was all the encouragement I needed!
I awoke about four hours later, satisfied that I was finally getting some more sun on the beach. Of course, it was only several more hours later that I realized just how much sun I actually got. I am a bit red this evening – but the plan is 5 hours of beach for 5 days. I returned to the hostel and, after waiting an hour or so for my towel to dry, walked the very short distance to the bus station. For about 4 Lev I was on my way to Sozopol!
Sozopol (originally named Apollonia) was my intended destination from Plovdiv, but I couldn’t seem to find a free bed in any of the hostels, so I just stayed a night in Burgas. Aside from the plethora of mosquitoes, it was an enjoyable detour. In Sozopol I met up with Nataliya, from Couchsurfing, who gave me an evening tour of the city. She is from Moscow, but recently bought an apartment in Bulgaria. The city has quite a bit of history, but there was little we were actually able to see at night. Some of the ancient Roman architecture is lighted, but that’s just about all we were able to view. I hope to meet her again for a daytime tour tomorrow in order to get a better idea of the city layout. Back at the hostel I enjoyed a local beer with the owner. There is only one other traveler here: a guy from Bulgaria that I haven’t yet met. He was in the room and sleeping by 2200, so I’m in the common room updating my blog while the owner makes dinner for himself and his wife. It smells delicious.
I realize this post has little substance, but I haven’t slept much lately. Last night the mosquitoes were just too much for me, so the afternoon beach offered my only respite. I hope to catch up on rest tonight, and again on the beach tomorrow. I have allotted a week here, but I may stay longer if the weather holds up. I probably won’t see a beach again for quite some time, so I need to work on my tan now while I have the chance. Tomorrow morning I’m going to send out the obligatory postcards, then head straight for the sea!