- Travel and Places
Visit Bulgaria - Black Sea Coast
Bulgaria - spectacular scenery, lush vegetation, sea, mountains and wildlife
If you want to holiday somewhere different, Bulgaria is a very pleasant surprise, sitting on the Black Sea, with a long sandy coastline, stunning beaches and picturesque bays.
I've been fortunate enough to visit the Bulgarian Black Sea coast several times, and really enjoyed it there. Nice food (lovely salads) and very warm, friendly people. Many Bulgarians speak English, and are eager to practise their English on visitors.
Despite a lot of construction work with a recent influx of foreigners buying up property, the country remains largely untouched and unvisited by overseas tourists.
Bulgaria - stunning views and stretches of sandy beaches
Set on the Black Sea
There are networks of well-maintained hiking trails and horse-riding routes allowing you to discover Bulgaria's lush mountainous and forested landscapes and mountains inhabited by bears, lynx, rare birds and other kinds of wildlife now becoming scarce elsewhere in Europe
Panoramic view of countryside at Balchik
Getting around the country is easy, with cheap and efficient public transport to ferry you between the cities and into the remoter, rural corners, where the traditional, slow pace of life continues much as it has done for centuries.
Bulgarian Cities - Sophia and Varna
The two main cities are the dynamic, cosmopolitan Sofia in central Bulgaria with its lovely parks, sociable alfresco bars and fascinating museums, and sombre but bustling Varna, on the Black Sea Coast.
Bulgaria has numerous architectural treasures, Thracian gold artefacts and Roman remains and there is a world renowned botanical garden and palace in the port of Balchik.
Varna in Bulgaria on Google Maps - Just zoom in
A picture tells a million words
Flower Market in Varna
The Bulgarians Use the Cyrillic Alphabet
Like the Russian Alphabet
In the cities, many people speak good English but you will not find English much help in the more rural areas. You could certainly make yourself understood with a smattering of German, Russian, Greek and any other European language you can muster up - the Bulgarians are very warm and attentive, and will do their best to communicate.
Having said that, make sure you find out what prices you should be paying, or you might find yourself paying well over the top if you are unlucky - just keep bargaining, and knocking the price down. There is often one price for locals and one price for foreigners, so it pays to have a Bulgarian friend accompanying you when you shop or use a taxi. I call them cowboys, and you can find them in most poor countries.
Have you ever seen the Cyrillic Alphabet?
If so, did you wonder what all those hieroglyphics meant?
Now you can see for yourself.
If you want to learn the language, you need to master the text, so that you can read street signs and other information. Many Bulgarians have learnt English, along with several other languages, but you can't rely on that if you are caught short in a little village miles from anywhere, and need some urgent instructions!
This is what the Cyrillic Alphabet looks like:
The Rough Guide to Bulgaria - A Tourist's Guide to Bulgaria This book is indispensable if you are travelling to Bulgaria
The Rough Guide Series are always good, comprehensive and always reliable, and easy to find what you need.
St Konstantin - With a central market where you can buy everything a tourist needs
The well-stocked market is laid out in the town centre, surrounded by trees which shade it from the hot sun in summer. There you will find very nice, very cheap clothes, bags, shoes, gift shops, even jewellery, and of course, food.
St Konstantin - a quiet seaside holiday resort
There are several good artists selling paintings and they will paint a portrait for you on request
The Market in St Konstantine, - On the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast
Tree-lined St Konstantine Market with Bars, Restaurants, Kiosks and Shops
There are lots of little bars and restaurants in St Konstantine, which is a few miles away from Varna, and about half-an-hour's drive from Varna Airport.
The people are very friendly, welcoming and helpful. There is a little open train that goes round the town and plenty of cheap taxis if you want to go further afield. Trees are everywhere and the locals love their gardens.
Get into Bulgarian Culture Before You Go - Choose study books to learn the Bulgarian Language, and a Recipe Book to try the Wonderful Bulgarian Food
Learning Bulgarian, even just a few common phrases, will help you to enjoy your holiday so much more.
Even if it is only a smattering of Bulgarian, you will be able to find the toilet, your taxi, a restaurant and your hotel. With a little more hard work you could have better conversations with your hosts.
Bulgaria is an agricultural country, and Bulgarian food consists of healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables
Lonely Planet is an organization with a great deal of experience in publishing these language books, and they know what the traveller needs to learn first
Pyrrhocoris Apterus Beetles
Red Bulgarian Beetles in St Konstantine
I had to include this photograph of Pyrrhocoris Apterus - little Bulgarian beetles which I came across in a patch of earth and grass in a wooded area.
Being slightly nerdy, I find such things exciting, particularly so as I had never seen anything like them before - I even went as far as sending the picture to the Natural History Museum in London, in the hopes that I would gain accolades as the discoverer of a new species. They didn't even deign to reply, but a stranger I picked up on the internet identified them as quite a common species in that part of the world - I was both pleased and disappointed.
Here's a link to a Wikipedia article about them: Pyrrhocoris Apterus.
Typical Bulgarian architecture
Conjoined Houses with Grapevine in Balchik, Bulgaria
You will find monasteries, filled with fabulous icons and watched over by priests, delightful timber-framed villages with smoke curling lazily over the stone-tiled roofs, donkeys neighing and headscarfed women and children staring in wonderment at the arrival of outsiders.
Bulgarians love their gardens, and grow lots of fresh produce. The temperature is warm enough to grow wonderful grapes on grapevines draped over pergolas in summer (like the one in the photograph on the right), but it gets so cold in winter that there are many popular skiing resorts.
Rear View of Conjoined Houses in Balchik - Outside Stairs
There are no internal stairs
These outside rickety iron staircases are commonplace and there are no internal staircases. OK in summer, not so funny in winter when there is heavy snow.
This picture shows the typical house design
Access to the Upper Floor Balcony is by Outside Stairs
It is a feature of the older Bulgarian houses that the stairs are outside instead of indoors. This is partly to enable various generations of a family to live in one house - Bulgaria is not a rich country where people could afford their own properties. So, in effect, each floor would be a self-contained flat.
Hotel Koral, St. Konstantine, Bulgaria
I have stayed at the Koral Hotel and returned several times
Most of the hotels have their own swimming pools. This is the pool at the Koral Hotel - it is absolutely beautiful, surrounded by trees, so you can lie in the shade when it gets too hot, and there is a shallow pool for babies, and poolside bar which stays open as long as people want to sit at the tables and drink. Alcohol is very cheap and they are very liberal with the measures. I don't drink cocktails at home, but I certainly do there! I love the pool so much that I have even written a poem about it, and I have put it up on the web with a link from this page (below).
The Koral Hotel is reasonably priced, and, although it is called a three-star hotel, it is very close to four-star. The food is hot and cold buffet-style help-yourself, and this enables you to sample Bulgarian food in small quantities but large varieties. It is of a good standard. Bulgarians use a lot of vegetables, and the meals are very healthy. The rooms are comfortable and of a good standard, and the whole place is spotless.
There is a friendly bar, and games area, and also a gym and hairdresser. Most of the staff speak English. The dining room is large and airy, but if you want, you can sit outside on the verandah to eat. That's what I used to do - I love the alfresco life.
Here's my Poem about the pool, called "Empty Swimming Pool"
You can find it here:
Bulgaria is a Member of NATO and the EU
Bulgaria at a Crossroads
Bulgaria is now a member of the European Union and a member of NATO and has the feel of a nation at a very important crossroads. Massive foreign investment has created a construction boom, not just around the larger beach and mountain tourist resorts, but in the cities, too, with foreigners investing in property there. Wages are amongst the lowest in Europe and there are serious problems with bureaucratic incompetence and organised crime. Although prices have risen since Bulgaria became a member of the EU, they are still low compared with countries in Western Europe, making it a cheap holiday destination easy and enjoyable to travel round once you've mastered the Cyrillic alphabet and a little Bulgarian to get by
Did you know where Bulgaria is?
More About Bulgaria
- Bulgaria country profile - BBC News
Provides an overview of Bulgaria, including key events and facts about this eastern European country
- 20 Fascinating Facts You May Not Know About Bulgaria
Tourist or traveller, discover fascinating things about Bulgaria you may not have known. From wolves and bears to ancient gold treasures, this country has a rich and varied culture.
My Travel Web Pages -
- Five Travel Tips for the Frequent Traveler
Travel tips to help you save time & trouble if you are a frequent traveller - what to pack, what to leave behind at your destination, safety tips, where to get your foreign currency & keeping it safe
- How to Keep Children Entertained in the Airport Queue | Diana's Blog: Family Matters
Due to concerns about terrorism, there are likely to be long airport queues at Immigration Control, so it's handy to have a few ideas about how to keep your children entertained,happy & well behaved