Bulgaria was the forgotten port for most people on our ship. To me, it was always just “the port that replaced Egypt.” We were originally scheduled to go to Alexandria in Egypt before the political unrest there made it impossible. So, it’s safe to say I had low expectations for Varna, Bulgaria. Maybe it’s because I didn’t cram a bunch of plans into the three days we had there, or maybe I’m a patient person, but I actually loved Bulgaria.
On the first day, I went on an FDP to visit a Bulgarian village about a half hour north of the port. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – we were the first people to come visit this village, so they really pulled out all the stops for us. We met what seemed like the entire local population of the place, took a walking tour of the school, church, some homes, the distillery (their brandy is a BIT stronger than ours…) and the barrel-maker’s shop.
We also got a delicious, buffet-style lunch with a Bulgarian song and dance performance. We met a beat boxer who was ridiculously talented and hoped to place third in this year’s annual competition to crown the best beat boxer in the Balkans. The kids in the village were especially memorable; they all loved getting their pictures taken and when one girl in our group busted out the bubbles, they went crazy! It was so fun interacting with the kind people there and really living in their world for a day. If I had the means of getting back there another day, I definitely would have!
On the second day, we met a few Bulgarian girls who kept staring in our cabin window as Tim, Ryan and I were hanging out. Apparently, ours was the biggest ship they had ever seen and that’s why curious Bulgarians would keep wandering past and taking pictures all day. Later that night, we went out to the clubs on the beach (the whole beach walk by our ship was full of bars and nightclubs) and met a local guy who rapped for us, and I ended my night overlooking the beach and the town from the top of a nearby hotel on a failed mission to find a swimming pool.
The last full day was filled with a lot of beach recovery time, a little more clubbing and meeting another cool local. Before we left on debarkation day, I grabbed some cool souvenirs and ate at a pirate-ship themed restaurant near the port called Mr. Baba’s. A word to the wise: if you don’t want to spend the night going in and out of the ship bathroom, then DON’T order the “Cannibal Platter” at that place…
Overall, I was very happy with our trip to Varna. I could definitely go back, especially to the village and to see a few more touristy places that I missed. On to Istanbul next…I can’t wait! It should be the most unique of our ports.