The Muppet Brothers arrived in Varna, Bulgaria late yesterday afternoon. But it wasn’t easy. Our morning started early with a 5 a.m. wakeup in Bucharest, Romania—not our favourite city (see my earlier posts) and too early for breakfast.
Our taxi arrived in front of the hostel at 6 a.m. and we left for the bus station across town which took about a 20-minutes. It was bitterly cold having both rained and snowed during the night. We paid our driver and shouldered our heavy packs.
Our bus would be leaving Bucharest at 7:30 a.m. so we had a 1-hour buffer which is always good. Entering the small station (just a very small unheated waiting room) the temperature was only marginally warmer than outside. We confirmed we were in the right spot, stowed our luggage and sat down on the hard plastic seats to wait for our bus. It arrived 2½-hours late and we didn’t leave Bucharest until 10 a.m. for our 6-hour journey to Varna. By this time both of us were literally chilled to the bone. Thankfully, it was a full-size bus and not the small vans we’ve become used to travelling Romania. A nasty cold has left me very tired.
The bus was relatively uncrowded (a real blessing) and we each quickly grabbed a window seat. It was much warmer than the bus station but my teeth were still chattering—my head-cold, exhaustion and lack of breakfast didn’t help the situation. However, mercifully, I was able to doze off a few times during the trip and that helped a lot. Originally we had planned on arriving in Varna at 2 p.m. but our new ETA pushed our arrival back to about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Nonetheless, we had finally escaped the dreariness of Bucharest in the winter—Bucharest is not representative of the beauty and friendliness that Romania offers.
I hope my earlier posts describing our 3-month trek through Romania has whet your appetite for visiting the AMAZING country that is Romania—most Americans don’t travel to Eastern Europe (much preferring Western Europe) but I think that’s a huge mistake. It’s estimated that only about 1% of all Americans with passports ever visit Romania. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania have all opened our eyes to a part of the world we knew virtually nothing about and Bulgaria holds the same promise. I would hate to think my recent negative posts about the city of Bucharest would dissuade anyone from visiting Romania.
So the Muppet Brothers have finally arrived in Bulgaria and we’ll be spending another 3-months trekking this mysterious country—I use the term mysterious because we know absolutely nothing about Bulgaria. But that’s the fun of travelling like we do: discovering new places and things, eating new food and meeting new people. Who doesn’t love a good mystery—and by God Romania and Bulgaria are mysterious (and affordable, friendly and safe). While in Varna we’re staying at the Cathedral Guesthouse (a small well-kept hostel) in the historic City Centre part of town within short walking distance of the Black Sea.
Our hostess is a rather stout and gregarious woman who goes by the name of Lucy (is that really a Bulgarian name?) who is all smiles and good cheer—I’m tempted to lay the line Lucy you’ve got some s’plain’n to do on her but with her limited English I don’t think she would catch the reference. If you’re one of my younger readers (and you know I love you) you might have to look it up on Google. But the USA does export a lot of TV (even old 1950’s TV) so Lucy might actually get the reference after all—but I will follow the old proverb: discretion is the better part of valour (it is better to be prudent than merely courageous).
The good news and the bad news. The good news is that Varna looks beautiful and interesting and it’s not Bucharest. It’s on the picturesque Black Sea with its coastal beaches. Lots to do and see in Varna including churches, cathedrals, Roman ruins and a plethora of museums of various kinds. Our hostel is cheap at only $11 USD pp per night (private twin room with private bath and free in-room wifi) and for an extra $3 USD pp we get a nice breakfast. The bad news is the city’s main water supply doesn’t work (and is still not fixed after 3-days) so no flushing toilets and no showers which is not good for the Muppets.
Repairs are forthcoming they say but it’s not looking good (like I said its already been 3-days and counting). Lucy smiles and shrugs—what are you going to do she seems to imply. The more I think about it the more I feel the urge to take a dump but that wouldn’t be a good idea. At this point there doesn’t seem to be a Plan B so we’ll just have to wait and see—but not too long. Nature calls on a regular (or semi-regular basis)—more for Joel than me. But plastic bags might be in our future—I know—ew TMI (way Too Much Information). Sorry ’bout that. Everything always works out in the end. Oops did it again. Sorry again.
Field Notes: We’re excited to be in Bulgaria. Three months sounds like a long time to spend in just one country but our stay in Romania was over in a heartbeat and I expect the same to be true for our visit in Bulgaria. We will be in Varna on the Black Sea for both Christmas and New Year’s and then extend our trek into other parts of Bulgaria. Varna is very budget-friendly and I think that will be the case for the rest of our visit. It’s winter here (and cold) but I think Varna is historically a bit warmer than Romania. I guess we’ll find out. Once I shake off the remnants of my cold and we have water (flushing toilets) everything will be good. SFD