Back in Varna for a couple of weeks after leaving to do a couple of side trips.  Had fun seeing Sozopol where I had never been and Nessebar where I had been before and liked.  Now back in Varna which I really really like.  Heading to Bucharest for 10 days to hang out and catch a cheap flight to my favorite spot Cadiz.  Cadiz was my first and final stop in Europe this year.  I love the place.  The first 5 photos are of Bucharest and second 5 from Varna.  I have taken many photos of these two places.  So if your interested in seeing more click on the links at the bottom or type in their names in the search bar at the start of the blog page.  There are many!  Life Is Good Dave!!!

I am in Sozopol, Bulgaria a very old little town on the Back Sea South of Varna a few hours.  It dates back to 6000 BC as an early Greek settlement.  I wanted to see and do something different.  Was getting itchy feet so decided this would be a good spot to checkout.  

It is a much smaller place than I thought it would be.  Very similar to Nessebar where I was a couple of years ago only smaller.  I could walk around it very slowly in an hour, even with all the up and down streets.  It is built on a rocky peninsula with small cliffs along the sea on two sides of it and a harbor on the other side.  

There are nice very old blackish brown stained wooden buildings like in so many old towns here in Bulgaria.  Pretty nice they have a very distinct look of their own.  like the homes in Bavaria have there special look about them.

I came for two weeks figuring that would be a good amount of time to see it.  Really a week would have been way more than enough.  If I only had a very short amount of vacation time.  I would come for a day trip or two that would be plenty of time.  You never know till you get somewhere what it will be like when you do.  

Somehow looking at it on google I was way off on how big it was.  I thought it would be bigger than Nessebar.  NOPE!!!!!!!!!! HAHA  You can’t choose them right all the time but I was glad I got to see it.  I was way off on this one.  

It is nice though and two weeks goes by fast so no big deal!  Already been here a week so no problem.  It is also nice for a change because it is a big difference from Varna.  At night it is so quiet and peaceful here.  During the day it is slammed with tour groups though and very crowded. 

There are a lot of tiny very old chapels throughout town.  Like maybe 4-6 people could stand inside.  Very narrow streets room for only one car and few of them going through.  Only people who live here, taxis and delivery people allowed through.  One of my dislikes is that it has very few benches to sit at and no little parks except at the beach between the old and new city and there wasn’t much to it or plazas to sit in.  

When I first got here I was dreading the hilly walking everywhere.  I am handling it alright though and it is good for me I guess!  Forced exercise if I want to do anything.  HAHA  

The weather has been great here, as it has been my whole trip since I left Florida in March.  It is now 1st week in August.  Really no bad days some a little cool in the beginning and some a little hot lately, but nothing to complain about.  

To sum up my trip to Sozopol!  I would say if you have only enough time to see one of these old towns.  I would choose Nessebar and maybe take a day trip or two by fast ferry from there to Sozopol.  You get a nice boat ride along the coast that way!  I think Nessebar has more going for it!

At the end of next week I go to Nessebar for 3 days it is on the way back to Varna.  I stay in Varna till 1st of September then go to Bucharest for 10 days to finish my 90 days out of the Schengen Zone.  

I got a really cheap flight from there back to Spain.  I will spend the rest of the time there in Cadiz, till I go back to Florida in early November.  That’s the pre plan plan anyways!  HAHA!  

I cut the amount of bouncing around I usually do a lot this year.  I had planned to do a lot more and spend a good part of the time in Macedonia and Romania.  The logistics of all the travel to do it just became overwhelming to me.  Too much time in buses or trains to get there.  

So I spent almost all of the 90 days I needed to be out of the Schengen zone in Bulgaria.  Except for the short stop in Bucharest at the end!  Must be getting old!!!  HAHA  

So I am in Nessebar now.  It is the same very crowded during the day with day-trippers and tours.  The streets are so narrow they get filled to the brim very easily.  Although there are more benches and a couple little plazas it is still hard to find a place to sit and take a break. 

August is not the time of year to come to either of these places if you have a choice!  HAHA!  Back to Varna in the morning!  

If you want to see photos of Nessebar CLICK on the link at the bottom.

Well back in Varna Bulgaria!  It is a great place that I come back to every year.  It has a very very very special vibe about it.  Very low key and peaceful.  

It doesn’t have all the beautiful architecture of most of the other places I go.  Most of the really nice buildings are in the center along the very long pedestrian zone leading to the Sea Garden.  That is about all it is lacking though.  

The Sea Garden is a huge park covering a few miles or kilometers along the sea.  It is full of flowers and trees of all kinds and many different paths and stops along the way with fountains and statues in them.  There are all kinds of things for people to do in the park from playgrounds for different aged kids, a giant swimming complex with multiple pools for different events, tennis, ping pong and petting Zoos!  There are benches everywhere. Perfect!!!  

Bulgaria has to be one of the most peaceful and least hurried places I have ever been.  I just Love it here!   

I am sitting here on my balcony watching as they are doing a traditional circle dance out in the esplanade tonight.  They form a circle join hands and as people from the esplanade join the circle gets bigger and bigger until it is too big for the area.  Then they start making a spiral so there is always room for more to join.  

The dance kind of looks like a line dance just simple in and out and sideways steps going around and around.  So simple and open to all.  I never could dance worth a shit always had to be solo. Even this simple one they are doing is too much for me.  I was sitting here watching thinking I could do it but after watching for a long time decided nope not possible.  HAHAHA!  

Yup it’s very peaceful to see from old people to young children just joining in as they walk by from the beach or wherever they have been or are going.  So so so simple and nice!  

It amazes me how it seems to be the poorest countries like here in Bulgaria that are the ones that enjoy life the most.  The little things we have forgotten in the more wealthy places still remain in these places from years gone by.  It is really really good to see!  

There are hundreds of children of all ages walking, riding scooters, everything imaginable they are riding it!  They are still up after I go to bed.  Which is usually around midnight playing and having a grand old time.  I have never seen anything like it anywhere I have been.  It is like the land of children or something!  Great!  

The only thing that makes me cringe is the older kids on their bicycles riding full blast down the esplanade making the crowds of people shalom poles like on a ski slope.  They are tearing through on their back wheel.  Front one in the air waving back and forth to keep their balance. 

I do not know how they do it but I am amazed how no one has been wiped out by them.  I have been here for a couple years now and I still cringe from it but have never seen them hit anyone!  Amazing, crazy and very lucky at the same time.  I always go DAMN kids!  Of course when I think about it.  I would have been one of them at their age too no doubt!!!!!!!  HAHA!  

So I was inside and heard what sounded like singing.  Went out on the balcony and a womens and mens choir was just standing in the middle of the esplanade singing songs.  As they were singing you could hear the sound of a band coming.  A dozen or so groups of people came by.  All from different countries dressed in the old traditional style of each of their countries playing and singing their folk songs.  Pretty Cool!  

Guess the dances and celebrations are starting again this year.  They have a Varna International Celebration of Music and Dance every year.  They have been setting up a large stage about 200′ feet from here for two days.  I was wondering what it was for!  Now I know.  

I can only remember a few of the countries involved but they were mostly Eastern European countries.  Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Slovenia, Latvia and others!  COOL!!!!!!!! 

It is too bad it is such a pain in the ass to get here.  There is no easy way to do it.  Either several flights to all over the place or trains and buses for hours.  But well worth it once you get here!  The photos below are new and are of a couple of the many flower plantings throughout the park.  If you want to see more of Varna.  There are many!  Type in Varna in the search box or click on a couple of the links at the bottom. 

Well I am in Plovdiv now!!  It was 32 here yesterday didn’t get much done just not used to that kind of heat.  Today the morning was cool so left out earlier to do my walk about!  Good thing it is hot again this afternoon but not as hot as yesterday!  

There is a lot of history in Plovdiv it is supposedly the oldest city in Europe 6000 BC and third oldest in the world!  The city now sits on the ancient ruins that are 12 meters or 39 ft below ground level of the present day town.  There are many areas that have been excavated around town to reveal the ruins beneath it.  

It has the oldest watchtower and longest pedestrian zone in Europe.  Also had the oldest American educational institution outside the USA in 1860.  The American College of Sofia which has now moved to Sofia!  The watchtower is the simple looking tower in the photos

The city is called the city of 7 hills.  One has been demolished for building material for the new town and there are three hills surrounding the old city itself.  There is a very old city part and a newer old city part as well.  Both are pretty well preserved at least along the pedestrian zone and the architecture is pretty ornate on some buildings.  It also has the new city which is much bigger. I did not make it there I’m not interested in the new parts of cities.

There are ornate bronze drinking fountains all through town and the water continually flows from them and is excellent.  Also many benches to sit at!  That scores high on my want list in a place!  All and all It’s a nice place.

Climbing all the hills is kicking my ass but I guess it is good for me! HAHA.  Glad I came to see it.

Will be here for a week then to Varna my favorite!!!!  The sea has always been such a big part of my life a place can not be as nice in my book without it.  All though in saying that there have been a few places that were.  I just love love love the sea.

The people I am renting from came over with their children this afternoon and part of the evening.  They brought a beautiful big bowl of Bulgarian salad which is similar to a Greek one and a bottle of ice cold Vodka.  I had a few beers on hand and we sat around and talked, laughed, drank, ate and had a great time. We finished the Vodka the beer and the food and now I am trashed and Happy to have been a part of their lives.  

It was a great time.  I am so so so glad I met them it made my trip here wonderful!  They are special people and I am going to miss them.  There is nothing more in life I would rather be doing!  I am humbled by it!  Life is Good dave

Well I left Cadiz today and went to Jerez to catch my early morning flight to Chania!  The place I stayed in was nice and had a beautiful little Spanish tiled courtyard to sit in outside my room.  I think most of them do after looking in a couple places around town.

After my walk around town and getting something to eat.  I came back to the room and was sitting in the courtyard having a drink.

This pretty young lady came out of the room next to mine and sat at a table nearby.  Since I am 71 most people I meet are much younger than me.  We talked from across the way in Spanish a little because that is all I know is a little Spanish unfortunately.  She asked if she could sit with me and of course I was delighted to have her to talk to.

When she came over we realized we both spoke English.  We were having a little trouble with the Spanish conversation.  It was a great surprise.  She was very pleasant and we had a great time talking the rest of the late afternoon.  

Later in the evening she said she was going to go have a drink and would I come.  It was not to late then so I said yes I will go for just one because I have a very very early flight in the morning.  We went and of course ended up with more then one drink but not by much.  It was getting late so I said I needed to get back because the morning flight was at 4:00 AM.  

When we got back I sat up for another drink with her and looked at the clock and it was after midnight.  YIKES!!!  I had to go to sleep but wasn’t going to get much!!!!!  I hated to leave and go to bed we were having such a great time talking.  But I did!!!!!!!

Morning came very very fast but it was worth it to have met such a nice person to spend my day with!  Here’s to her she made my day!!!!!!

The first few photos are of Jerez.  One of the courtyard at the hotel and a couple in town.  

Well it is great to be back in Chania!!!!!!!!  I have never felt more welcome!!!!!!  Brings tears to my eyes if I get to thinking about it!!!!  They are my second family here for sure!!!!!!!

The last photos are of the little party the night I got here on the penthouse of Julie’s dad.  Julie made an amazing snail dish from snails they harvest under the rocks in the orange groves near there cabin in the mountains not far from here.  

Lunch the next day with her dad and Nikos the old guy who lives down the hall from me.  My first sunset from my balcony.  The mountains that separate the north side from the south side of Crete are still covered with snow.  

The other day I was sitting at a bench in the harbor staring off at the buildings and sea around the harbor.  

I looked and there was this big sea turtle that came up to the surface to have a look around and get some air.  His head was the size of a softball.  I think he winked at me to give me luck and dove back down.  Could be my imagination of course! HAHAHA!  

I watched him swim away under the crystal clear waters here.  Stopping to eat sea urchins, crabs and shellfish along the way.  I never did see him come back up after that.

Guess they can stay underwater for a long long time.  I thought for sure I would see him again. But no such luck.  I guess he already gave the good luck he was going to give to me for that day!!!!!!!!  

From what I read it was probably the loggerhead it is supposedly the only Mediterranean sea turtle that nests on Crete!  They come here in May-June to mate and lay their eggs!  They can live to be 70 years old.  Two of the largest nesting sites on Crete are found in Chania and Rethymnon!

One thing for sure Chania is a beautiful place!  The view from my balcony at Julie’s is unbeatable!!!  The first 5 photos are of Jerez the rest Chania.  For many more photos and stories of Chania type in Chania in search box

I was invited to a party with Julie and family to some friends I had met at a party at Kostas and Julies a week ago.  They wanted them to bring me to see their house and have a party for me.  Pretty nice of them!

It is in this little village of Kria Vrisi in the back country of Crete in among the olive trees in the heart of the olive oil country.  It was pretty amazing this big old place with many separate buildings.

It had a big basin where they said they used to stomp on the grapes with their feet to make wine. In another building they had a press to squeeze the olives from their trees for the oil.  The guy said he now uses the grape crushing basin for a swimming pool for the kids in the summer.  

There is another very old building that is preserved as it was when his grandfather and grandmother lived there.  It still is preserved as it was the day they left.  The grandparents live in Athens now and only come back to stay there on a couple holidays.  Looks like it hasn’t been lived in for a hundred years with all the old pictures hanging and things just left where they were way back when they left.  

Pretty cool stuff wish it had been during the day so I could see more and take more photos.  These are some photos of the party and the beehive shaped very old wood stove they used to cook the food in.  It was some of the best lamb I have tasted on Crete.  It melted in your mouth!!!!!!!! 

Towards the end of the party they started to sing the old traditional Cretan songs that most times accompany a party on Crete.  The songs they sing go back to 1000 A.D.  I’ll put in some info below. It is awesome to feel the vibe from them.  I have also written about them before.  They are mesmerizing when you are there and listening to them.  As they get into it it gets better and better and the more people join in.  It was an incredible experience for me.  One that I will never forget. Thank you all Loved it!!!!!!!!

The rizitika songs form a separate category of the Cretan folksongs. As the name indicates, the place of their origin is at the foot (rizes) of the mountains, especially the Lefka Ori in Western Crete.
Nobody knows exactly when the first rizitika songs came into existence, but at least they can be traced back to the Byzantine period (about 1.000 A.D.). The rizitika tradition has survived both the Venetian and the Turkish domination of the island, and is still alive in the 21st century. As a matter of fact there are a number of songs about the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War. Even today new rizitika songs are being composed, and their content and style do indeed live up to that of the old songs.
Besides the chronological classification, the songs are also divided into the two categories tis tavlas (at the table) and tis stratas (on the road).
The songs of the tis tavlas category are sung during banquets, at parties, baptisms, weddings and on other lesser occasions – and they are always sung without musical accompaniment.
The tis stratas songs are rarely sung nowadays, but in former times people sang them when they were walking or riding from one place to another. Often the songs were accompanied by a lyra (or a fiddle in Eastern Crete) and a laouto. This category also includes some of the wedding songs that were sung when the bridegroom set out for his parents-in-law’s home, and later when he brought his bride to their common home. Furthermore there are wedding songs where the bridegroom’s mother welcomes the bride, as well as when the dowry was exhibited.
The songs did change in the course of time. In Byzantine time a popular subject was the dying border soldier Digenis Akritas. Often the descriptions in the songs were exaggerated, as for instance in the well-known song about Digenis Akritas:  For other photos of Crete click the links below>  

So Thessaloniki is the only city or place I have been in Greece that I have very little good to say about it.  Or would I ever want to come back.  The only good thing about it is the cheap flight to Chania on Crete.

I have looked around for 4 days now and am staying for 5 unfortunately.  I have only taken 2 photos so far.  The old town what there is of it is on the top of the hill behind the old city walls.  It is OK but is a fairly steep long climb from the center to get to it.

The rest of the city burned to the ground in 1917.  In the main part of the city by the sea there is very little to like about it it is awful.  The developers that came in after the fire.  Slammed together all these faceless buildings.  Doesn’t look at all like Greece.  

All the buildings are Dirty.  Sidewalks are dirty.  If you lean on a wall you are covered in black grim where you touched the wall.  On the side streets there is garbage falling out of containers everywhere.

The traffic on the main roads through town is horrific all day and night long.  There is so much exhaust fumes from vehicles it gives you a sore throat and I can hardly breath.  

What historic sites they do have left.  Most are surrounded in scaffolding and covered with screen cloth.  No one is working on them and it looks like they have been that way for years.  The ones that aren’t being repaired are surrounded by tall fences some permanent some not.  It is like you are at the zoo looking at animals but they are buildings.  It is almost impossible to get a decent photo of what is behind them or to even see them.  

The parks and plazas are stark with few benches, flowers or plant life.   If they have a water fountain or feature it is usually not working and green with algae.  The buildings along the waterfront are all 8 to 10 stories tall and in much need of paint and repair.  

There are sidewalk cafes all along the waterfront but in the 2 Kilometer or more walk I did.  I only counted 14 benches to sit at by the edge of the sea and there is at any given time several hundred or more people walking.  I guess the idea is if there are no benches you have to sit at a cafe.

I apologize to those of you that live here because the people I have met have been very very very nice.  Super in fact!  It is the cities only saving grace!  A younger person more interested in having a good time for a weekend in all the cafes.  Would probably have a whole different opinion of it.

The prices they get to stay here do not warrant what they have to offer!!!  The only reason to come here is to get a ferry to the islands or a cheap flight somewhere else in Greece!!!  Greece has so so so many beautiful gems of places to see you are wasting your time coming here!

Well Skopje and Ohrid were two nice cities that I never expected to see.   Just kind of decided out of the blue one day to check out Macedonia.  It is out of the hustle and bustle of mainstream tourism and that is what I like.  

It turned out to be a really nice trip and I enjoyed my stay.  Although I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.  I probably won’t because I am 70 now and have to figure all the other places I want to go to.  Time is getting short now and I have many places left to see!

Well Ohrid Macedonia is a beautiful little city on Lake Ohrid.  It is a huge lake bordered on one side by Albania.  I can see the Albanian side in the far off distance from my balcony.  It was the capital of the the First Bulgarian Empire at the turn of the 10th century.  Here is how the lake is described in Wikipedia:

Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake of the Balkans, with a maximum depth of 288 m(940 ft) and a mean depth of 155 m (508 ft). It covers an area of 358 km² (138 sq mi), containing an estimated 55.4 km³ of water. It is 30.4 km long by 14.8 km wide at its maximum extent with a shoreline length of 87.53 km, shared between Macedonia (56.02 km) and Albania (31.51 km). Of the total surface area, 248 square kilometres (96 sq mi) belongs to the Republic of Macedonia and 110 km2 belongs to Albania.  Measured by its surface area of 358 km², Lake Ohrid is probably the most biodiverse lake on Earth.  There is much more written about it if you care to look it up in Wikipedia.

The bottom line is it is an incredibly beautiful lake!  There is a very long esplanade running for what seems like miles along the shore.  I walked a couple of miles and never did see the end of it.  Saw a lot of swans along the shore though and tons of minnows so that is a good sign the lake is very healthy.

There was a Triathlon going on where I stopped.  It was athletes from all over the Balkans including Turkey.  Pretty cool stopped there and watched what was going on and got to see the winners coming across the line.  Beautiful day for it!

I have now hiked up the surrounding hills a few days to see the various sites of the old city that sit on top of the hill.  There are many old churches along the hike.  They claim there are 365 and they date from the 9th -13th century.  There is a huge fortress that was built over an existing fortress dating back to the 4th century BC.  It is the main feature on the top of the hill overlooking the city.  Today’s existing fortress is from around 950-1000 AD.

The city is pretty nice really laid back and quiet.  Maybe a little too quiet for me but I am staying for a couple weeks.  I have really liked it so far.  The people are super nice and most speak English more so than in some of the other Balkan countries.  Although most of the Balkans have a lot of English speaking people.  The food is good in the restaurants and prices cheap cheap.  Perfect!!!

I love how all of these Balkan countries over here have kept the old traditions of dancing in the plazas alive.  From the very old to very young they all participate with the traditional attire of days gone by.  People from the street join in and the dance goes on.  It is Great to see!  It is really nice to see how people with an average monthly income of 200 euro on the lower end to 500 euro on the upper are so into living life.  They are very Pleasant, Happy and Smiling for the most part.  They have this great attitude too!  Of Live and let Live to Each His or Her Own kind of life.

It is a stark contrast from the USA nowadays where so many have so much money and time on their hands.  They have nothing better to do then to be in other peoples faces for any little thing that doesn’t fit into their narrow minded lifestyle!  Sad!!!!!!!!!

The really amazing thing to me is I have been here almost two weeks now and have not seen a mosquito!  You would think in a place with a lake this big and many many spring fed fountains constantly running all over town.  That it would be a big problem!  Can’t figure it out but sure don’t miss getting bit by them!!!  This is a great little city and like all of Macedonia somewhat out of the way of the beaten down tourist paths.  Definitely worth a visit.  I will probably be back sometime in the future!

So I am in my apartment in Skopje.  It was easy to meet up with the owner so that was great!  The place is nice so all set for the one night then move tomorrow to another place.  May come back here after the other place not sure yet.

The place I move tomorrow is overlooking the main square here.  I don’t think this place on the square has the room available after my 3 days but she said she knew someone else that had one so we will see.  Then I will choose where I stay from there.

Went to the market and back decided to just hang out and chill out the rest of day.  Got dinner though and supplies.  I passed out shortly after eating lunch just got up a little bit ago.  Guess I was tired slept 3 hours!  I am good just very tired from getting up at 2 am and all the moving and trying to figure out how to meet people when I get rooms.  It is hard some people are easy to get up with others not so much.  So I always worry how I will find my room once I am in town. 

Well the next morning I went to meet the girl I was supposed to meet for the next apartment. This room the girl was 2 1/2 hours late to meet me.  I was going crazy emailing her calling her on Skype.  She just had a baby so she fell asleep and forget me.  She was very apologetic and I understand it’s very tiring with a new baby.  This new room is really nice and my balcony overlooks the main square.  So I am at the heart of the city and very happy with my new room. YAY!!!!!!!  

By the time I got in the room though I was super nerved up.  I just went to sleep and did nothing the whole day except go to the market for food again.  Did sit on the balcony the better part of the day watching the people and looking at the amazing statues in the square.  It is a real pain in the ass if people do not respond right away and show up when they are supposed too.  I get very worried.  I am good just tired from the trip it has been a long one with trains, planes, buses and rooms.  Plus everytime you move you lose a day just getting situated. 

Turns out she had a couple more nights available so I will be here till the 14th.  That gives me 5 days here to explore so I am good with that.  Would have liked a couple more days but I will get a few more nights after I come back from Ohrid where I am going next.  It is hard to get the amount of time you want when you have to wait till the last minute to get a room.  I just do not always know till just before where I want to go next.  This time of year everyone is on vacation in Europe so you have to get what you can and be happy.  Or be able to book way in advance. 

I heard varying opinions of what Skopje would be like before I came.  I can say that after a few days of being here and exploring that it has turned out to be much nicer than I thought it would be after all the opinions on it.  

There are very few of the soviet era stark crumbling concrete buildings that are so common in the Balkans or if there are I didn’t see many.  The big apartment buildings here at least have a little bit of style to them and the biggest share are well kept, nicely painted and colorful.  There are many buildings under construction and many being restored that have been started but look like they have stopped work on them.  This is a poor country so that is just part of the evolution to get things started and they are headed in the right direction. 

They start these massive projects then run out of money and have to wait till they get more money to continue.  Such is life here and in most of the Balkans.  At least they are trying very hard to develop what they have.  There are huge statues everywhere that look like a giant built them.  Some dwarf the buildings around them.  It seems like thousands of them they are everywhere you look. They are of important people, priests, scholars and animals lining the bridges and placed throughout the parks and plazas.  Some huge some life size. 

One of the bridges crossing the Vardar river is made of solid bronze all intricately embossed.  One of the most famous is the Stone bridge it is considered the symbol of Skopje and is in it’s coat of arms.  Many of the bridges have statues lining both sides all the way across.  There are many of them crossing from one side to the other.  Pretty amazing! 

In the old part of the city there is a huge bazaar mostly made up of Turkish immigrants selling tourist items etc.  They never left here from many years ago when it belonged to the Turks.  The old town is pretty much the Bazaar.  The old buildings are all filled with tourist shops.  So not so nice as far as I am concerned.  The city has a big Turkish presence and many mosques throughout.  It makes it an interesting and diverse culture.  It has a good size castle sitting on a hill across the river from the main square in the old town. 

I think it is a pretty interesting place and it is dirt cheap to stay and eat.  That always has some influence on me liking it or not!  The one thing about it though is I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling about it.  I think because the statues are so so massive and so many it is hard to get that warm a feeling.  I personally think it is a little over done in that respect but still a great place to visit.  The 6 days went by fast and I never lacked for new places to see and things to do.  I won’t mind coming back after my trip to Ohrid to stay for a few more days before I catch the bus to Thessaloniki.  It has been a really nice stop along the way for me.  It is a work in progress with good potential.  Glad I stopped to see it.  Life is Good Dave

Well I’m in my room in Budapest left this morning from Bucharest.  Went there for two days from Brasov.  One to get from Brasov to Bucharest one to figure out where to get the bus etc to the airport on the second morning.   To catch the very early morning flight to Budapest.

The room is very small but nice and has a small kitchen.  It is right next to the Danube river.  To bad the balcony doesn’t look over it.  I am on the 6th floor and the balcony overlooks a nice inner court of which I only see the rooftops because I am at the very top of the building.  Kind of neat to look at.

So far from the walk here this morning there is going to be way more than I can see and do in the time I will have.  It will keep me very busy trying to see as much as I can!!   Very beautiful old huge buildings everywhere. 

Left the room this morning and went across the street and walked alongside the Danube into the center.  It is incredibly gorgeous along the river with the long tourist boats easily the length of a football field sailing up and down.  Looking across the river at the scenery of the Pest side is beautiful with the huge government buildings and churches.  The walk is great nice little parks and benches all along the way.  When you come to the center on the Buda side there are these amazingly huge government buildings absolutely incredible in size and design. 

I walked for 3-4 hours every morning and for 1 or 2 in the evening.  With only 5 days to see it I really had my work cut out for me.  The buildings in the center of the city are really massive and many are ornately decorated with beautiful stone carvings of every imaginable manner of people, gargoyles, gods and animals.  Still can see bullet holes from the wars on some of the buildings!  You could also see them in Belgrade and Brasov on the buildings there.  Crazy to see took me awhile to recognize what they were!  

The buildings here are so massive it is impossible to get far enough back to take photos of the cravings.  The only other problem I had is from the fumes from the vehicles because there is nowhere for the air to escape.   Unless there is a strong wind blowing through and even then the fumes are strong.  No different than any other large city.  At least down by the river it is open and the fumes aren’t a bother.  I spent the largest share of my time there. 

I am sure I still didn’t put a dent in all there is to see but think I saw the most grandiose of them all at least!  The food has been excellent and the price of things are much cheaper than I anticipated so that has been great to find out.  Probably on the line of the prices in Cadiz.  Won’t hesitate to come back again and see some more of it. 

I leave Saturday morning at 2:30 am to walk to the bus for the airport takes about 40 min or so then another 35min to airport for flight at 6:25.  Hate those very early morning flights but such is life.  They are always the cheapest way to fly.  It will be a very short flight to Skopje in Macedonia.  Get there early and will have to wait till room is cleaned in afternoon.  Bummer Dude!!!  Then next day move to new place.  Crazy.  LIFE IS GOOD Dave

 

TOP BLOG

I am in Brasov now it is in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania.  It is another one of the many nice spots in the world.

The ride on the bus from Varna to Bucharest was uneventful and on time.  Much better than the last two border crossings.  The last one going to Bulgaria from Romania where the taxi driver said there was a bus station at the border and there wasn’t and I ended up having to hitchhike the rest of the way to Varna.  BUMMER DUDE!

Plus the one going from Serbia to Romania where I had 2 cartons of cigarettes and was only supposed to have 2 packs.  Which I didn’t know.

Didn’t realize till later when I looked it up that Serbia is not an EU country.  Thought it was but just not in the Schengen zone.  Wrong!  The pisser is it held up the shuttle bus for a what seemed like a long time.  While I was getting processed through three different people before they let me go.  Said they could fine me 100 Euro but didn’t.  They kept the smokes though.  BUMMER DUDE!

Spent the night in Bucharest at a cheap hotel and in the morning headed to Brasov.  I was amazed when I got there and saw that the train was on time.  I figured I was early and that a little before it was scheduled to leave the schedule board would say it would be late.  

Well damn if it didn’t come in on time.  Everyone got aboard and the engine goes to start and leave and it breaks down.  HAHA!  After trying to fix it they decided to swap engines.  Anyways it took them an hour but they got it done and off we went.  The good thing about was I could watch them do it because I was in the couch next to the engine.  So that helped the time pass.

Romanian trains and from what I hear Bulgarian ones too are all left over from what I think is world war two or at least looks like it.  Just the way it is here and you have to go with the flow. Bottom line is if you need to be on time don’t take a train.

I hated to leave Varna but August there is super hot and I can’t take that kind of heat anymore.  So I’m glad I found Brasov to come to when I was here this spring.  The weather is perfect not to hot not to cool kind of thing.  

It is totally different then Varna.  Where as Varna is non stop things going on.  It is a really quiet peaceful place to just lay back and relax.  Kind of nice for a change.

It is a beautiful and very clean little city with most of its original architecture still here and in good shape.  Real nice to see it so well preserved.  Nice plazas and parks full of roses everywhere and plenty of benches to sit on and while away the day.  Probably get bored after a while but right now I am loving it.

I have a beautiful penthouse apartment all brand new with a huge deck to sit on an stare off at the mountains and town below.  I get a great sunset over the mountains every night.  The other great thing about it is I get to cook what I want to eat.  That is a big plus to me I love to cook and it helps to occupy some of my time.  

It is also wedding season and you can hear the honking of the horns going down the streets on the weekends and see the many ceremonies in the park with all the roses.  It must be a tradition here to have the ceremony in the park or at least photos after.

I have been here almost two weeks now so time is going by fast.  Just laying back and enjoying what time I have left!!!

For more Photos of Brasov click link below

More photos of the entertainment in Varna.  The international festival of music and dance.  People from all the different countries in the Balkans.  Pretty Sweet!!! Not many places like it! Gotta Love it!  

For more stories and photos of Varna follow the links at bottom of page!

First let me say I absolutely love Varna!  Unlike most places I choose it is not because of the beauty of the architecture!  Or like most places in the Eurozone I like with the narrow streets and old balconied buildings.  There is very little of that in all the Balkans!  All of those things seem immaterial to me here.  It is mainly because they were ruled by the communists till a little more than ten years ago.  They have only recently started to come back from that era of rule.  Their efforts are just starting to show but they have a long road ahead to get there!

The cities here have there old parts of different sizes but few with large areas.  They Consist of varying degrees of grand old buildings.  Some larger than others.  Varnas old town is somewhat small and is in need of repair.  The repair is happening now but like I said it is going to take a while to complete.  Meaning years!

The rest of what they call the new part of the city is like the rest of the Balkans shoddily made old concrete communist era buildings in need of much repair.  The rest new big commercial and apartment buildings.  Not much to look at in my book.

The part about it I do really really like is the beautiful flowered parks along the sea that you can walk for miles on.  The harbor to watch the fishermen.  The endless entertainment and the beach bars that you can sit at in a cushy chair with your feet in the sand.  The long wide esplanades and countless benches you can sit and watch life go by!  These things are just the extras for me.

What I really come here for is because of the really really Great Vibe it gives off with the endless parade of families with their children.  They are the topping on the cake to me.  All different, all ages, all doing their own thing and having a Great time!

It is super peaceful, tranquil and soothing most of the time.  This is truly a piece of heaven and a seaside escape for the many Bulgarian families to come to.  There are very few outside tourists.  To me there is no better stimulus for the brain or soul!

This place is so so so full of LIFE and it is almost totally because of all the children.  They are all beautiful and so innocent!!!  They have no preconceptions of what life should be!  There is a lot for them to do here and it shows in the many smiles on everyone’s faces!

It is not that the children or families elsewhere in the world are any different.  It is just that I have never seen so so so many children in one place before!!!  PERFECT!!!  I now know what I want to be when I grow up!  A CHILD!!! 

The Photos below are some of my favorite and contain some repeats of previous posts.  My grandson Alden comes first of course he is such a happy happy boy!

 

 

So turned into a long trip to Varna but in the end it worked out great.  Because I got to meet a family and a guy that did me a really really great favor.  

I left Bucharest this morning for Varna.  To start the train in Bucharest was an hour late leaving for Constanta a city on the Black sea in Romania.  That started the trip off not so good because when I got to Constanta the last shuttle bus of the day had left for Varna a half hour before I got there.  

So I’m standing in Constanta going which way do I go George which way do I go.  Decided I had two choices take the train or a bus to Mangalia a small town about an hour from here on the way to the border.  To try and catch another bus from there.  The trains don’t go any further.  I decided to take the bus because there was one leaving for there when I went to go back to the train station.  It got me to Mangalia and dropped me off in the middle of town next to the train station there.

I then tried to find a bus to Varna all there was was a sign saying to call a number and request one.  So first of all I can’t call without WIFI so that was out and sounded like it would be a long wait.

So decided to ask these taxi drivers were to get the bus.  Well one of them says he would take me to the border where there is this bus station with many buses to Varna.  So I pay the $20 bucks thinking what the hell just sounded easier then doing the call and request a bus thing.  Plus figured I would be better off if there were more buses leaving from there to Varna.

I didn’t remember seeing one and went across twice before.  I took the shuttle bus before so it never crossed my mind or was something I would have paid attention to.  So that’s what I did!  Got to the border and payed the cab and go to pass through the border.

The guard at the border says to me where you going and I say Varna, Bulgaria.  He looks at me smiles and says how you going to get there walk.  Because at that point I was walking across the border.  I say no I’m going to get a bus at the bus station.  He looks at me and smiles again and says there is no bus station here.  He was a young guy and very nice but he is laughing at me because I was stupid enough to believe the cab driver.

I hate cab drivers they are such crooks and I know it but this guy sounded sincere.  So I believed him and at that point needed to do something.  Bang I got taken again.  Did I say I hate cab drivers. 

Anyways the guard says I don’t know what to tell you.  You can change some money at this place 400 meters down the road and ask in there if anyone can help you.  Or stick out your thumb and go for it smiling all the time.  He was nice spoke good english just couldn’t help but laugh don’t blame him I was to.  Him and the girl guard both were laughing and shaking their heads.  I’m going shit!  Here we go new adventure coming up!!

So I go down the road to the change place which is just a booth outside a duty free shop of some kind.  I’m thinking how much I should change because I figure I’m going to get ripped off here.  A guy with his daughter comes up and goes to make change.  I ask him if it is a good place to change money and he says yes or his daughter says it for him can’t remember.

Anyways he asks me where I am from while I’m changing my money.  His daughter is interpreting when he can’t figure out what I am saying.  He was pretty good at english though.  Good thing for me!!!  They were both real friendly and we started talking about my predicament and did he know any buses.  They said in the end that why don’t you come with us we are going down the road to a place we like to eat seafood about 50 km from here.

Said if you would like to we will drop you off in a spot you should be able to catch a bus from.  I say I’d love to and thank you very much for the offer.  I get in the car and there is his girlfriend and grandmother there too.  Piled all my stuff in the trunk and off we went.  Took about an hour to get to where they left me off and we laughed and chatted like crazy the whole time.  

His Daughter was 13 and spoke pretty much perfect english.  She said she went to school for it and had traveled and went to school around Europe.  But that she had learned more from watching movies and youtube etc then she learned in school.  You could tell she was very smart never would have guessed she was 13.

Her grandmother was laughing and telling her she didn’t have any idea she new english so well.  So she got a big kick out of it herself.  They were great great people and I guess had some money because the daughter was well educated and said she had two houses one for school and one for the summer.  The dad traveled all over for different vacations of a month or two at a time.  So he was really into what I was doing.  We were like old friends when they left me off.

I stood at the spot they picked to drop me off and waited and waited for a bus none came.  It was a very busy spot so I expected one any minuet.  Got out my phone and looked at the mapsme app I have and saw that it should be the perfect spot.  So after and hour or at least it felt like it I’m thinking what do I do now.

The choice was walk into the town which was about an hour on foot or stick out my thumb and hope for a ride.  I decided it’s been a long long time since I have hitchhicked so out went the thumb.  After another hour or more for sure this time I was starting to rethink that plan and just about ready to give up.  Because hundreds of cars and even a few buses had passed with no luck.  I was bending down to pick up my stuff and one more car was coming put out my thumb and Bingo he stopped. YAY!!!!

Nice LandRover so had plenty of room for my stuff and just the one guy driving.  He was great lived in Varna and was going home from his cottage near where he picked me up.  He spoke great english so we had another great time talking the hour or so getting into Varna.  Gave me several ideas about some new places to see.  He is an electrical engineer.  So was well off by Bulgarian standards as were the others.  

Surprisingly both the group of people and him said they like to give back to help people because they feel lucky to have what they have.  Amazing how things happen to workout when you least expect them to.  He dropped me off about as close as you can get to my Hotel and headed home.  The adventure made me smile ear to ear!!!

Turned out to be a perfect day and I was glad to have put up with the hassles of getting here.  The reward was so much better!!!!!  I would be glad to do it again if that were to happen all over.  Great Day After All!!!  Did take10 hours though!  70 years old and hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere in Bulgaria running out of options not even knowing what my next move would be.  Who’da thunk!  Not even me!​

It feels so so so good to be back here it is my sanctuary away from home.  It reminds me of the tiny little park in Guadalajara where I used to stop by many times in the day to just stop and feel the really really good vibe it offered me!!!  AH what an incredibly beautiful Vibe it has.

I am steps from the Black sea and I can see it from my balcony.   I watch hundreds of families and children pass by doing all kinds of things on scooters etc of all sizes laughing and having a great time.  I listen to excellent low key live music every night from a place across from my room.

The beautiful park is also steps away that I can walk 3km or 2 miles one way along the cliffs looking over the sea.  Or down to the sea and to the beach bars where you can have a beer with your feet in the sand.  From there to the harbor to watch the fishermen fishing off the wharf and ships coming in.  

The park is full of statues and fountains and things for children and adults to do.  It is great and I love it.  There are many paths weaving through it all with many benches to sit at.  You can enjoy either the view of the huge flower beds planted everywhere or the sea and watching the ships pass by.  It is incredible!!!

There are many many Bulgarian families here with their children sitting in the park on blankets for a picnic.  Stopping at the petting zoo or the bigger zoo.  The many many different things like tennis courts, soccer courts, three huge swimming pools.  One for pool sports, one for water ballet and diving, and one that I think is an olympic size with lanes for swimming meets.  There are several different sized amusement areas for different aged children.  

Saw two outdoor ping pong tables set up today just along the side of one of the wide paths through the park.  They had nice paddles and balls for people to use and just left there.  No one steals them.  They respect the fact that they are there for all to use.  No slot to put money in! What an incredible concept!  Last place you would ever expect to see a couple of ping pong tables.

It is a very very very peaceful and special place.  For people young and old no one is judged all are left to live there own way.  It is very different then Cadiz as it has just a little old town area.  The people are very modern in dress and style.  Orange, Bright Red, Green, Blue hair it is all about live and let live.  It is also about Rest, Relaxation and Laughter!!!!  Perfect!!  AH So Good to be Back!!!!!  HAHAHA!  Life Is Good! Dave 

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

Left for the airport in Timisoara this morning at 6AM.  It was lightning and pouring like a cow pissing on a flat rock.  Decided good day to take a cab DUH!!!!!  I went the short distance to where they all were yesterday and there was not a one there.  Shit!!!

Oh well good thing I had a rain parker!  It was 20 minutes or more to the bus stop but part way there the rain let up.  I thought for sure everything in my suitcase and backpack would be wet. Checked at the airport but it wasn’t.  Great!  

Short flight to Bucharest then met a shuttle I had ordered to go to Brasov.  The guy was waiting when I arrived and was very friendly and spoke good english.  $20 for a 3 hour trip to Brasov in a Mercedes van with WIFI not bad.  The driver was super nice and the time passed quick.  

Met the wife of the guy that rented the apartment to me.  She was waiting when we got there. When I walked in my eyes lit up.  I was like WOW this place is beautiful.  Everything was new and really really tastefully done all first rate stuff.  From rain shower to mood lights in the bathroom. Beautiful kitchen, Huge balcony on the 6th floor overlooking the mountains and city.  Doesn’t get any better!  I think it is the nicest place I have ever rented. Amazing!

Brasov is beautiful!  A good size old town.  Lots of parks full of roses, fountains, evergreens and benches to sit and while away the day.  Only came for 3 days to see it so I could find somewhere to get out of the heat in August.  This fit the bill perfectly.

The owner had saved the month for me till I came to look at it.  Boy am I glad he did.  Gave me a super deal on it!  So it worked out perfect made all the extra time and money to get there just to look for a place early worth every penny!  Wow it is nice!  Both the owners the guy and his wife are really really nice.  Very mellow and down to earth kind of folks.  He’s a software designer and travels all over the world for work.  The morning I was leaving He came by and gave me a ride to the train station.  Saved me a 20+ minute walk.  

Bottom line is I have a really amazing place for August instead of the heat and fumes of Bucharest where I stayed last year.  August is not a good time of year to be in Bucharest it is super hot there then. 

So I got a couple of good days to look around!  I am very pleased and happy I am going to have such a great place for the month of August!!!  WOW did I say it was a great place!!!!!!!!!  Life Is Good!!!!!!!!!!!

For more photos of Brasov click link below

I am now in my apartment in Timisoara.  It is right on the main old town square.  The square is huge and surrounded with beautiful giant old buildings a Cathedral and fountains.  It is very very beautiful.  My balcony overlooks it all.  I could ask for nothing more.  Beautiful first night here. From the balcony I can hear a live concert filling the square with music from several singers all Great!!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!​  

Went for a long walk around what I could find of the old town center today.  The first impression from my balcony was the best of it.  The rest that I saw was really nice but not near as spectacular as the square I am staying on.   As it turned out I have the best view in town just sitting on my balcony.   Which is fine with me I was tired from the trip yesterday.

So now I can just sit and relax today.  Other than walking to and checking out where to get the bus to the airport.  Plus checking out a few more areas just to make sure I didn’t miss anything close by.  I won’t have to do much else.

Mind you I didn’t do a major search here.  I was only here two days so I am sure there are many things I probably missed.  I am not really sure.  It’s a nice city but from what little I saw it was very similar to Belgrade.  It was a little dirty meaning trash from people that can’t make it to a garbage can and need to leave everything where they are sitting kind of thing.  They do not seem to have the money here to pay people to cleanup which is very necessary in a place they want tourism.

The main reason I came was to catch a plane to Bucharest because the difference in the cost of a flight from Belgrade versus here was $100+.  I got the flight from here for $23 so figured it would be worth seeing this city as I had thought about it last year.  Now I know and have seen it.  It was worth coming to for the flight alone.   Seeing the city was an added bonus!

Well after my really great time at Danas and Kents!  I have headed out to Belgrade and from there I will go to Timisoara, Romania.  Branka the lady that runs the place I stayed in Belgrade met me on arrival as planned.  

She was so so pleasant and was always smiling.  She took me to the room and then for a drink at her brothers cafe just below my room on the beautiful pedestrian zone there.  We talked for a long time and then I headed back to my room. 

I needed some help from her to arrange transportation to Timisoara and she went out of her way to help.  Dana had already contacted the shuttle people I was going to take so it was all set up.  I tried to make contact with the shuttle service but we had a hard time understanding each other. Dana and Branka got together by phone and took care of everything to make it a very smooth and stressless experience for me.  I get so nerved up when I travel from place to place now it is like I never traveled before.  

Belgrade was not the most interesting of places I have been but it was nice nevertheless.  Not somewhere I would make a destination out of but good for a stop over and a look around.  The trouble with it is and no fault of their own.  It was bombed flat to the ground so many times in the last 100 years there is very little of the old that has survived.  I could still see bullet holes in a few of the buildings from all the conflicts. 

What has survived though is very beautiful and I can imagine what it would have looked like if all these great old buildings were still standing.  Serbia is a very poor country so you can’t expect the cities like Belgrade to be as well kept as other more affluent places.  There are many parks throughout the city and the old buildings that are left are beautiful but not so well kept as other places I have been.  The potential is there just not the money to make it happen.

The tourist areas like the pedestrian zones of which there are many are well kept up but that is about it.  The city is not dirty but could use some more care to be taken of it.  All and all it was very interesting and I made a couple of very nice long walking tours of the different neighborhoods to check them out. 

My room was in the perfect location so I was content to just look down at all the people going by in the pedestrian zone and enjoyed my time doing just that.  I am glad I saw it and glad to be moving on.  The people in Serbia were very very kind and many went out of their way to help!  It was a really great experience for me!  Life Is Good!  Dave

Well the trip to Kragujevac in Serbia was a very very long 24 hr ordeal.  First train to Jerez airport at 9am.  Then flight to Barcelona.  Then flight to Belgrade.  Then cab to bus station because the plane was late and the last bus at 2am into Belgrade I missed by 30 minutes.  

Fortunately I met a guy on the plane ride from Serbia that was going to the bus station in Belgrade too.  So he got us the cab and we split the tab.  Got to the bus station and the bus I was supposed to get to Kragujevac they discontinued 10 days before I got there.  So another couple of hour wait till the first bus in the morning came.

It worked out fine my friend from the plane was there and the bus he was going to get to where he was going was also canceled so he had to wait too.  We just sat had a coffee and a couple beers and waited it out.  He was good company and the time passed quickly.

Finally got the bus and arrived in Kragujevac at about 10am.  Got a cab to Dana’s and Kent’s house and she was at the gate waiting for me.  It was really good to finally be there and to see them again.  It has been a couple of years since we met in Chania.  

There new house is big and beautiful and like a little oasis in the heart of town.  They have a small fenced in yard filled with beautiful landscaping and flowers everywhere you look.  If you didn’t know better you would think you were outside of town it is so peaceful and quite there.  It is perfect for them!

Rada the lady that sold the house to them owns another house in the same yard and is a really super nice person too.  She is a very friendly and bubbly person very positive and well educated. She has several degrees in medicine.  She is very kind and does many charitable things for the poor.

She took us around one day to see the different sights around town.  It was great stopped for some drinks and pastries along the way and had a great time.  

We all talked and laughed together the whole time I was there.  It has been incredible and very comforting to have been able to see them again.  

Dana is a gourmet cook and I think I gained 10 pounds in the days I was there.  The things you have to put up with.  I suffered through it though and endeavored to perceiver.  HAHA!

The city is the 4th largest in Serbia and was the original capital of Serbia before Belgrade.  It is also has many good universities.  I didn’t really see much of it but it was very peaceful and quiet for a big city.  

I was only there for 6 days and it went by like a rocket.  We spent most of the time enjoying each others company.  About all I did is go to the market with Dana every day to get things for the days many meals. 

The little puppy in the photos is Pi.  He is very very special because he is blind.  Although the Vet said he may gain back some of his sight he wasn’t sure.  They and the people they got him from didn’t know when they got him.  Of course they would never give him back.  He is such an incredible little dog.  You would never know he was blind if someone didn’t tell you. 

He has no trouble navigating around or causing trouble!  He is so small and so so full of life.  His fur is the texture of a cats.  It is going to be amazing to watch him develop his many senses.  That is one things that dogs are really gifted with.  He is very lucky to have them and they are very lucky to have him!  He is a Great little dog!  It was a truly wonderful time and I will always remember it!  

I am so blessed to know so many very very special people all over the world.  Nothing I can think of in my life could be better.  I am so so so fortunate it is absolutely amazing to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I would not trade all the money in the world for it.  It is truly living LIFE!!!!!

A CELEBRATION for the Newborn Baby Girl GEORGIA!  At the Grandparent’s Nektaria and George’s house.  They are Julie’s brother Lefteri’s wife Eleni’s parents.  It is the same place where the making of the Raki is done.  Great place to have a celebration!  Unfortunately the three of them couldn’t come because Georgia is just a week old. 

There was as always enough food and drink for a small army.  The grill was in constant use all day cooking incredible grilled meats till dark.  The wine and Raki flowed like water and I don’t think anyone left without wobbling a little or a lot. 

There were about 30 people that came and we Celebrated and Celebrated and Celebrated IYIYIYI!!!!  It was another great and amazing day on the mountain!

Here’s to GEORGIA!  She has a great family and a extremely beautiful place to grow up in!!!  It has been a very great honor to me to have been able to see and be a part of this.  I will never ever forget it! 

WHAT A GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE A NEW LIFE!  Life gets no better than this!!!!!!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD

GRAND PARENTS NEKTARIA AND GEORGE
ELENI BIRTHDAY GEORGIA HAS ARRIVED!

Went to Kostas and Julie’s new cabin today.  It is not finished yet but it is close to being done.  Just needs the finishing touches!  LOVE IT!!! 

Julie picked us up in the afternoon.  Along with Nikos the 86 year old man in the room down the hall from me.  He is like their grandfather he has been here so long.  Kostas dad Manousos and me plus the 3 children.  We all headed off to the mountain for the day in this tiny little car packed like sardines.  There was not one inch of space left.  HAHAHA 

It is a cabin they are building on the mountain so Kostas her husband can stay there all day and tend to the sheep and that they can use as a little getaway.  He and his brother Nikos have to milk 200 sheep 3 times a day on two different mountains.  The cabin is on one of them.  It is so he does not have to travel back and forth to their home in town to eat and rest.  It saves them a lot of time and money for gas etc. 

Plus this time of year he, his brother Nikos and his mom Despoina need to be there all day to harvest the Olives on top of milking the sheep.  It gives him and them a place to sit and eat and relax or lay down a few moments.  It takes about 45 min to drive there on winding roads. 

The house is a combination cabin and sheep shelter.  The upper floor is for them to live in and where they make the cheeses and yogurt.  Underneath the upper floor is for the sheep and where Kosta’s feeds them and milks them.  Julie spent all afternoon cooking for us and then again when Kostas his mom and brother came in from collecting olives at the end of the day.  She is a great cook and the food was delicious as always! 

Then Kostas and his brother had to go back out and milk the sheep.  Kostas’ dad the children and me did a little side trip down the dirt road and gathered oranges, lemons and limes to bring back while they were doing that.  They didn’t get done until well after dark.  What really really hard workers they are.  IYYIYI! 

Pretty cool place and what a fantastic view over the mountains and valleys.  It was a great time!  Loved every minute of it!   Just one more day here I will never forget!!!  This is one place life makes the world go around not money.  I am honored to be a part of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

It is time to harvest the grapes and make Raki here in Chania.  The grapes have been harvested now and made into wine.  The mash from making the wine has now been fermenting for a few weeks to make the Raki. 

Julie took me to taste the first batch coming from the still.  We went to her sister in laws families house high in the mountains.  There of course was a big party to celebrate the event. 

Unfortunately her husband Kostas was unable to come because he was busy harvesting the olives on their farm all day and then had to milk the sheep after all that.  They have 200 sheep.  IYIYI what a lot of work!  They are both very hard workers.  Good thing they are young.  They are also just as hard partiers.  The Greeks love to celebrate everything any chance they get.  They are such happy crazy fun loving people.  I Love them all. 

She also asked Bernhard a really nice Austrian man who is also staying at her place to come too.  He is jolly, happy and full of life!  We have become friends since we met here.  It has been nice to have someone to talk too and share some Raki with.  It was a really great great time of course and there was a ton of food and drink all afternoon. 

I got very very drunk because I forgot that when the Raki comes straight from the tap it is much much much stronger.  I passed out in my chair and fell over twice.  BAD BAD BAD!!!!!  Julie and Bern had to help me get into the car and up the stairs to my room.  She stayed a little bit to make sure I was going to be alright then went home.  I of course remember none of that part! 

They all thought is was very funny when they came to check on me today.  I am paying dearly for it now.  HAHAHA!!!  After all these years I have never learned how to pace myself.  Chances are looking slim to none that I ever will.  CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY!!!!

Well my first day back in Chania has made me feel like I never left.  Nikos the 80+ year old man and close friend down the hall from me made a big lunch for me as a welcome back.  Julie the lady that owns the place I am staying, Eleni her sister in law with her about to be born new daughter and two other guests that were staying in the room next to me came. 

It was a SUPER GREAT time and made me feel OH SO WELCOME and glad to be back with such GREAT friends.  It meant the world to me both literally and emotionally.  My only regret is not being able to speak the language that I would so love to be able to do.  It didn’t hurt a thing though Julie speaks great English and the others spoke a little we all laughed and carried on for the afternoon. 

Julie brought me three huge containers one of Greek yogurt, one of honey and the other of a Greek cheese Mizithra. That tastes something close to feta and yogurt combined and has a texture in between the two.  All that she and her husband Kostas make from their sheep in their village near here. 

She also brought what she considered a meal for me tonight.  It of course was a monster plate that will take me three days to eat.  It is just the way it is here and I LOVE it.  I couldn’t have asked for anything else as GREAT as what they did for me.  It has totally made my day and made me smile ear to ear!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD REAL GOOD!!!

PANORAMA FROM MY BALCONY

Well 5am yesterday standing in line at the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Standing in  a really long line I think the biggest one I have ever been in.  I thought I was going to miss my flight and almost did.

Just when we were getting pretty close to the end.  These three Bulgarian or Russian heavy duty looking thugs walked up aways in front of us deciding they were just going to cut off the huge line.  This guy next me to walks out of line and goes up to them and starts giving them shit big time for cutting into line. 

Now looking at this guy you would think he was a clean cut dude in what looked like Carhartt light brown pants and black dress shirt.  You could tell he was probably built fairly well underneath it all. 

So anyways he is going back and forth with these guys one had already crossed under the line and cut people off.  He looked like the meanest of the bunch and really big.  The other two never went under just bantered back and forth with the guy in line giving the kid shit and this hellashish stare down.  It was getting pretty intense! 

The kid never blinked an eye or backed off.  I’m thinking and everyone else in line is thinking these guys are going to kill this kid.  Some of the older ladies in line are trying to get him to stop.  Just saying stuff like just leave them alone you will get hurt it’s not worth it kind of thing.  I THINK!  Because I didn’t understand what they were saying! 

Didn’t even phase this guy at all he just kept at them.  I’m going OH OH this is not going to be pretty.  I mean this guy was like perfectly calm these guys didn’t scare him in the least little bit.  He made me feel cold inside and he wasn’t talking to me. 

Anyways the two on the outside came over but kept their distance and continued with the threats to him.  I don’t know what the last things he said to them were but his last gesture was to blow them each a kiss.  Whatever it was they decided to leave pointing at him making threats but leaving. 

So the only one left is the big guy still in line but not going anywhere.  The line with me and the kid getting closer and he is still harassing this guy.  I’m going OH shit I am going to miss my flight!!!  Fortunately when we got about 4 or 5 people from him and us.  This big guy and I mean he looked mean as sin ducked under the rope and left.  With this guy blowing him a kiss too. 

I was like holy shit that was close.  I don’t know who he was but he never raised his voice too loud but just enough so he could be heard.  He never flinched a muscle or blinked an eye.  He was super composed the whole time.  I’m going what the hell who is this guy.  I didn’t know who he was but knew I wanted him on my side.

When we got a little further down the line.  I figured I needed to say something to him so just said nice job dude!  He said Thank you but that there were only three and smiled.  I’m going really IYYIYI! 

Then we were at the end of the line.  He looked at me and said you go ahead of me my flight is later.  Because we had been talking about it earlier.  I said no that’s OK but he insisted so I said Thanks and went on my way. 

I don’t know who he was but he had to be some kind of heavy duty military dude I figured.  I guess so did the three thugs!  Shit never saw anything like it before.  When I was leaving I looked and the three of them were at the end of the line waiting like everyone else.  I just shook my head and smiled!!  All at 5am what a way to start the day!!!  CRAZY!!!!!

SOME PEOPLE YOU JUST DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH!!!

Got into Varna yesterday!  YAY!!!!  Passed out for a couple hours when I came in started at 5am got here at 3pm.  First train to Constanta came in an hour late so I had already traded tickets for another later train just incase it never showed.  It did show about 5 minutes before the new train I booked and was on left. 

Trains are not good at schedule over here.  That’s why I tried to catch the early one.  It worked out alright though the bus I needed to catch from Constanta was just getting ready to shut the door and leave when I got to the bus station. 

Was sitting on my balcony last night listening to this really young kid play piano on the esplanade.  He is really really really good. The kind of music you could close your eyes and drift off into space too.  Very intricate piano playing he was here last time and was one of the few I would give money to. 

The music tonight has been like rehab for me this kid plays with so much emotion you can feel it inside from a distance many many many people give.  He is out here somewhere all day you see him all over playing. His fingers must cramp up bad at night can’t imagine playing as much as he does. 

What a difference a day makes!!!  Good to be back needed some uplifting myself been a little in the dumps lately from having to stay inside in the heat in Bucharest!  Got my old room back here don’t think there is a nicer one in town.  So made it easy to just settle in right away knowing the town and the surroundings! 

Went for my walk this morning along the Sea Garden.  The big divided esplanade with the multicolored flowers arranged in different designs.  I have my favorite section of colors and design that I sit at a bench across from and watch the world go by.  Walked up along the cliffs overlooking the sea further down the esplanade.  It is a great really long walk for me.  Little places to sit and stare off over the Black Sea. Watch the ships coming in and going. 

The weather is great and the scorching heat is behind me now.  Perfect almost like I never left!  Very glad to be back!  Looking forward to my stay!!! 

The one thing I will say though.  Is that I never thought I would be sitting on my balcony watching all the people going to the bars on the beach on Friday night to party at 11-12 at night and not following.  Guess it is just part of growing old and I am probably better off NOT!  I never was good at leaving till they close and over here they don’t close!!!!!  Hell over here there are still five year olds running around on the esplanade after midnight!  HAHAHA! 

Went to the beach this morning it was a beautiful day.  Walked a long ways in the surf to the harbor on the other side of it.  Stopped there and watched the old guys fishing from the pier for a while.  Then walked back.  The water was great stopped at a beach bar at the end of the walk.  Sat with my feet in the sand under the shade of an umbrella in a big old cushy chair and had a couple of beers staring off at the sea! 

I am sitting on the balcony tonight watching this crazy dance that just started.  They have a Big Bulgarian folk dance going on on the esplanade.  Started with just a couple of people playing Bulgarian folk music singing and dancing.  Now everyone is holding hands and dancing this way than that round and round in a circle.  Just people from the street old and young joining in.  Nothing Professional except maybe the band.  The circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger as more and more join in. 

Sounds like Gypsy music to me.  Just tried to count how many people now.  I figure more than a hundred in several circles inside each other pretty cool fun loving people!!  The whole esplanade is full of people watching and joining in. HAHAHA Really COOL! 

It is really weird it started out of nowhere and ended just like that.  In maybe an hour hour and a half and everyone went their different ways.  I was just starting to think about going down and joining in and they up and left.  If I didn’t know better I would think I was seeing things. 

I was just sitting out there and it is all quiet and back to normal now now that they are gone.  Thinking what the hell that was  REALLY CRAZY!!!!  HAHA.  Today they came back and I got photos.  LIFE IS GOOD!  Dave 

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

VARNA OPERA HOUSE

So finally I have a plan after a month and hours and hours trying to find new places to go.  I just threw in the towel trying to find a place.  Mainly because of a lack of accommodations and prices everywhere.  It is prime time here now and everyone is on vacation. 

I will stay here in Bucharest and although very hot it is cheap right now and nice.  I will be here till the 31st then fly to Madrid on the 31st and fly back home from there on the 5th. 

That was a couple of weeks ago now and turned out to be too easy something had to go wrong! HAHA!!!  Jason quit his job and is no longer going to be in NH on the 5th.  That was the reason I was coming back so early to see the two of them and Alden!!!  Now they don’t know what they are doing yet just that they won’t be in NH.  They are going back to Hawaii to figure it out.  They just don’t know at this point. 

So I blew off the flights back home on the 5th!!!!! I am now thinking about going to Varna in September, Cadiz in October and Chania in November.  The trouble with that is trying to put all the flights, buses and trains together to do it.  I have one pad almost full and just started to transfer stuff over to the other one.  It is a real nightmare and I have had about enough for today. 

The thing of it is you spend a hour or two working on one way and come to a dead end after spending all that time. All because the last piece to the puzzle doesn’t fit!!!!!  YIKES I’m not having FUN!!!  I have literally sat here for days trying to figure it out.  I have tried a million  different ways of doing it and am still sitting here going which way do I go George which way do I go!

When you try to do something like this there are just so many things to consider.  There aren’t that many flights to these small places but I have tried every airport close to where I want to go.

Then every bus and train to get to my final destination and then how to get back to the next spot from there.  Trying to fit them all together makes me see double.  Plus the info on the web is sometimes or most of the times outdated and you have to spend hours just trying to find out where to get the info.  OH MY GOD!!!!!!  IYYIYIYIY!!!!! 

So the final pre plan plan goes something like this August 31st Bucharest to Varna.  Sept 20th Varna to Sofia spend the night couldn’t help it.  Then Sept 21st Sofia to Madrid, Madrid to Jerez (Cadiz).  Oct 25th Jerez to England, England to Chania.  Nov 18th Chania to Athens, Athens to Barcelona, Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale.  Plus some trains and buses!  Yikes!!  

I had to take the days that you see because they were the cheapest.  I looked a week on either side of them so I know they are the least money.  Makes a huge difference.  It would have cost me twice what it is to just pick certain days out of the blue and not look for the cheap ones. 

Every airline has their cheap and then expensive days that is what makes it so time consuming to figure out.  Not only that but you have to make sure you can get good connecting flights.  So you don’t end up having to spend the night waiting to fly out again in the morning.  That would make the cost jump way up! Room, Taxis or buses back and forth just to spend the night.  It really is crazy trying to put them all together! 

Other then wanting to see family and friends and having to do stuff like taxes and Doctor visits etc.  I have no desire to be in the states anymore.  The only other time I would want to leave here is to spend somewhere warm for a couple of months in the winter! 

Now that I know how to work out the 90 day visa thing by leaving the Schengen zone and going to a Non Schengen country for 90.  I can stay as long as I want just have to move around a little. 

This year I have found what I have been looking for for so long! Now I don’t have to spend anywhere near the amount of time bouncing around.  I have found 3 really really great places to stay for months at a time!!!  YAY!!!!  It’s a good thing because I have lost a lot of my get up and go this year.  The new place every 3 or 4 days is a thing of the past! 

I thought when I came here to this area it would just be a way to get out of the Schengen Zone.  Then go running back but what I have found is so amazing.  Here I get 90 days in each country and I love them. 

If you think all the mish mash of writing above is confusing to read.  You are absolutely right but is just where my mind is at the moment!!!!!!

So bottom line is.  I will be leaving Bucharest at the end of August and then going to Varna Bulgaria again till the end of September.  It is the place I have liked the most.  After that it will be getting cold here and time to leave. 

The good part is then I get to go to Cadiz for October which I loved.  Where I met the young couple that rented me the place I was staying and I enjoyed being with so much.  Then Chania on Crete at the end of October to the middle of November to see the family there that I rented from last year.  They took me in and made me feel like I had known them all my life.  After that it will be time to go home for Thanksgiving. 

Hopefully everyone is settled by then so I can get to see Alden!  The photo is of Garbis the man I met to let me into the room the first time when I came here a few months ago.  He, his sister, her grandson and the lady’s father I rent from invited me over because they wanted me to enjoy a traditional Romanian meal.  It was really really great and I was honored to be there!!  A real nice memory to remember! 

It’s hard to believe when I leave next week I will have been here a month.  Time goes by really really fast now a days!!!  Even with all the confusion!!!  I am totally Happy for the first time in my life and have never looked back since the day I left!!!!!  I wish the same for all of you!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD  Dave

First day back in Bucharest.  I just got back and into my room.  Got up at 5AM to catch the bus in Sofia.  Long long 8 hour trip in a bus.  Met a girl on it though her name was Loretta.  We hit it off right away so the time passed fairly fast. 

When we went to a different bus station here then we thought we were going.  She called her dad and had him pick her up.  She then offered me a ride to the closest Metro. 

When I met her dad right away he tried to give me money for the Metro.  But Loretta had already given me a ticket she had with rides left on it for me to use.  I offered to pay her but she said no way it is a gift for you.  Told me what to do and how many stops it would be to get to where I was going perfect.  Pretty amazing in my book! 

Garbis the old guy I met last time I was here met me here again.  I had mentioned to the women that rents the place last time I was here that the pillows sucked.  When Garbis came to meet me he brought two brand new pillows.  Pretty cool she remembered and did that for me.  Amazing!  

Then after getting moved in Garbis wanted to buy me a drink so we went to the old town and had a drink and came back.  When we got back I was going to make us a cup of coffee but the kettle didn’t work so he decided he was going to go get a new one. 

I told him it could wait another day but no he was off to get it.  He came back about 10:00 PM at night on a bus dropped it off and grabbed the last bus back to wherever he lives outside the city.  Pretty cool stuff!  I am exhausted!!!! 

You know there is no channel on the tube you can turn too.  That can get you what I see here and from my balcony every day and night!!!  It is so amazing!   I have not turned on the TV since the day I left! 

The little old lady in the nightgown with her dogs that I saw the last time I was here still comes every night.  I think she has four of them and brings two at a time.  Two at around 9PM and again around 11PM with the other two.  She lets them run in the fenced in area for them across the street from me.  It is a small park just for dogs! 

She is all hunched over and waits outside the fence and sometimes walks along it watching them waiting for them to do their thing.  It always made me smile when I saw her and still does.  Here in the dead center of the city and her in her nightgown walking her dogs.  Simple but perfect! 

Gotta Love it!!!  Good start to the day and what a nice way to be greeted on arriving back in Bucharest!  For more photos of Bucharest go to links below.  LIFE IS GOOD

Sofia the capital of Bulgaria.  It’s a big city in the middle of the country.  A very quiet city for its size and is kept very clean. The architecture is made up of mostly Soviet era buildings.  Monster massive multiple block long multi story tall government buildings. 

Impressive to see because of the size but very stark in design.  Minimalist or Soviet, Roman I guess you would call it.  These are all mixed in with modern commercial buildings.  There are very few of the really old architecturally impressive buildings left. 

The old town is really mainly the new town.  The old buildings and churches that are left are beautiful just not many of them.  There are a lot of nice large parks to walk through and many sculptures and fountains to see along the way. 

In the center there is very large area that has been excavated down to the ruins of what they believe to be the Roman Emperor Constantine’s palace in the old city of Serdica 300 AD.  Many of the excavations are protected from the environment with glass domes that you can look down thru from the esplanades above.  Or you can take stairs down to them and walk thru.  It is a very large area. 

The rest of what I saw was pretty much run down and crumbling old soviet era tenant buildings and other buildings from different times in history.  There is a long pedestrian zone starting just after you cross the bridge with the lions heading into the old town lined with produce stands.  There is also another long pedestrian zone further down in the old city with many restaurants and shops. 

The photo below of people getting mineral water from constantly running fountains is unique to Sofia.  It has 42 mineral springs with 8 different hydrothermal zones with temperatures of 86 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There were people filling water containers of all sizes and loading them into cars, onto bicycles and just whatever they could carry away.  Sofia’s mineral springs are deep under the ground, they are clean and can not be polluted.  There are also numerous spring fed water fountains throughout the city to drink from but that is common in most places in Bulgaria. 

The women with the gold face Saint Sofia is on top of the pedestal you can see 50′ in the air.  Basicly Sofia is for business or a stopping off spot for travelers going on to somewhere else like myself.  It is the travel hub of Bulgaria.  If you have the time like I did it is worth seeing! 

I will say that I have a beautiful room with a great balcony in a quiet area about 5 minutes from the train and bus station.  So it made it easy to stay for the week that I did. 

Well after spending the last month trying to figure out where to go for the last few weeks of my trip here.  It has become an effort of futility! 

I looked at Timisoara, Cluj Napoca and Brasov in the Transylvanian mountains part of Romania.  Plovdiv and some of the mountain areas in Bulgaria.  Belgrade Serbia, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Tirana and Durres in Albania.  Plus places in Croatia and Montenegro.  Even thought about going back to Istanbul for a moment it is so close to here. 

I spent hours and hours and hours looking!  Figuring out places to stay, planes, buses, trains and every other which way to get to them.  It all worked out to no avail! 

They all are now or were either booked up or now have temps in the 100F range.  Some both booked and hot!  Damn Europeans and Americans all have holidays now and the Europeans get a month the nerve of some people!  Makes it hard for good guys like me to just drift along!  HAHA! 

I am in Sofia now so the decision came down to staying here or Bucharest.  So yesterday I made up my mind to go to Bucharest the 1st of August and stay till the 18th when my 90 days outside the Schengen Zone are up. 

I choose Bucharest because after a week here I decided it was enough and that I liked Bucharest better!  There is more to it and the flights from there are much better! 

I was able to get in touch with the women I rented from when I first went to Bucharest and she gave me a good deal on the room I had.  So I am good to go!  YEY!!!!  A plan finally came together! 

After that I will have a lot more options because I can go anywhere in Europe then to complete my trip which ends September 5th in Madrid.  YEY!!!!!  It is all figured out for a short bit and gives me time to regroup!!!  Here’s to Bulgaria a totally awesome country!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

In Nessebar, Bulgaria now.  It is an ancient city and called by some the Pearl of the Black Sea.  It is has something like 40 churches dating from the 5th – 17th century in different states of repair in this small area. 

Today I spent about 3 1/2 hours walking around the perimeter of the old town where I will be staying tomorrow.  It’s real nice here even the new town where I am now is not that new it is early 1920’s – 30’s.  It is all in nice condition stucco and red tiled roofs typical of the Mediterraneum even though it is the Black Sea real nice.  Super clean! 

The old town is something I have never seen before.  All these old wooden houses that are stained black or blackish brown some with ground floors of brick and mortar.  Are very typical of very early Bulgarian architecture.  Pretty interesting to look at. 

Real touristy during the day a lot of tour buses come into town so it is a very busy place.  I think after 5 pm they probably leave I’ll know when I move over tomorrow. 

Nice restaurants all along the waterfront and above on top of cliff looking out over the sea.  Ton of ways to walk around.  Inside the town it is a little hard on the feet because they have stone type cobbles stones that are very uneven.  After walking around for a few hours everyday on them you wake up in the night with cramps in your toes and the balls of your feet but that is just part of it.  Pretty COOL not the cramps but the stones!!  HAHA!

Well been here for a week now the best part of which has been sitting on my balcony staring off over the sea.  It is a really big balcony with table and chairs and the room itself is nice.  The hotel is on the top of the cliffs in a semi quiet part of the old town.  I get to watch the city lights of the Sunny Beach resort across the way at night and the many fireworks that go off from one or the other of the many hotels there.  LOVE IT!!! 

It is really nice lots of narrow streets and pedestrian zones to walk about.  The one minor disappointment is it doesn’t have many spots with benches to just sit and people watch.  Most of the space that is not occupied by a building is occupied by restaurants with outdoor seating leaving very little room to even put one.  All along the upper cliff walk it is the same way.  There are a ton of restaurants don’t know how they all survive. 

I thought when I came to look the first time it would be touristy but didn’t realise just how much.  There is a constant flow of buses all day long from all the coastal resorts near by.  It makes it a lot less appealing to me!  If it weren’t for the fact my hotel is in a quieter part of town and I love my room and view so much I would have probably left by now. 

The trouble is this time of year anywhere you go in Europe that is nice is going to be overrun by tourists it is just the way it is.  I think  everyone in Europe has month long holiday times now.  Anyways that being the bad everything else about it has been great so it is a minor trade off!!! 

It’s funny there are a half dozen young kids that live down below from me.  Their mom and dad own the restaurant across the street and a small gift shop and I think a few other things here.  Their dad must be or someone must be on the balcony that I can’t see shining a laser light onto them and around the street. 

The kids are chasing it just like a cat would swatting it off themselves and trying to step on it in the street.  Real different way of life here.  They aren’t inside glued to the TV at 11pm  they are outside enjoying the night chasing a laser beam.  Interesting concept wouldn’t you say!  Makes me smile inside and out!!! 

The people in the photos run the place where I am staying and the names are in the right order!  SUPER NICE PEOPLE!!!  I am in Love with Bulgaria what a great country!!!

JULY TONY IVAN

Well Burgas is a really nice town and if I hadn’t just come from Varna I would have been more impressed.  It is a about the same size as Varna but with more foreign tourists than Bulgarians making it not have quite the same vibe as Varna. 

One nice thing was the buildings outside and inside the main tourist area seemed to be in much better shape than in Varna.  I was only there 3 days and really one of those was mostly travel.  So really didn’t get to spend enough time walking around and checking things out.  I would need to be there longer before making a real good description. 

Part of the reason why I didn’t stay longer was I waited too long to make a decision to go there and everything was pretty much booked up.  It is prime time here now.  I don’t book places for more than 2 or 3 days now because of all the problems I’ve had this year with people giving false descriptions of the rooms they have. 

The other reason for wishing I could stay longer is I met the girl that rents the place I am staying at for lunch one day.  So one of the 3 days was spent with her.  She took me to a special pizza place in town a little out of the touristy part.  It was great pizza not that I cared I’d have been happy if it was bad. 

She invited me last night when she came by to meet me after spending quite a while talking.  She was so easy to talk to and very pleasant.  She is a single mom who has a son that was with his father for a week or so.  Very nice speaks perfect English and is beautiful it was definitely up lifting for me.  Super nice made my day! 

So that was the Burgas I saw and why I didn’t get many photos I did get the most important one though!   Needless to say you should be able to figure out what part of my stay I liked the most.  So Burgas did turn out to be special just in a different way!

ALEXANDRA

In all my travels I have never been anywhere with so many families all having such a great time in one place before.  There are literally several thousand at any given time walking along the esplanades and through the parks. 

The Park itself is more than 2 miles long.  The really wide esplanade that weaves thru town is probably a mile going from the park along the sea to the Cathedral In the center of town.  There is a steady flow all day long and late into the evening of strollers of every type and children playing and having fun. 

The kids depending on their size are riding 2 wheeled and 3 wheeled scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, little bicycles.  Plus all the various small 1 and 2 wheeled stand on forms of segways.  It is amazing how many different devices there are to have fun on now a days. 

The best part is that none of them have conventional motors like mopeds and motorcycles.  With loud mufflers driving like mad men thru the crowd making the people a slalom course.  Trying to come as close as they can without actually hitting you.  Like all the other places I’ve been in Europe that allow them on their pedestrian zones.  If it’s not electric here it is not allowed period!

It is very active and so tranquil all at the same time.  Lots of smiling and laughing going on with the occasional crying from a skinned knee or elbow from falling.  It feels like I am in a total different world where all the terror and violence has been left far far far behind.  It is a wonderful feeling hard to believe in this day and age.  What a pleasure it is!!! 

I have been here for a month now and have yet to see any form of disrespect or violence to anyone.  I am amazed that a country this poor is the place I find such a thing.  People of all ages from infants to the old just enjoying life. 

The supposed civilized world of big and powerful countries should come here and learn what life is really all about.  It truly shows that money and power is not what makes you happy.  It has been a great pleasure to have been able to experience such a beautiful thing. 

I feel really really gifted to have seen and experienced this place.  It is amazing when you are so relaxed you feel like that at any given time sitting on one of the thousands of benches throughout the city.  That you could just sit close your eyes fall asleep and drift off onto a magical mystery tour! 

It is one of the few places I can say in all my travels I can come back to and spend several months at a time without becoming bored!  It is just so uplifting from the time I get up till I go to bed.  Everything about it is done with this super mellow atmosphere from the music you hear at night to the families walking by at midnight. 

No loud partying no loud music after 11 except at the beach.  No drunken tourists screaming.  Different kinds of health food, drinks and herbal remedies set up in tents along the esplanade.  It’s like it is the perfect setting for peacefulness.  Instead of 99 of a 100 people walking by staring at their cell phones it is 10 in a 100! 

Don’t get me wrong there is still the restaurants along the beach that I’m sure party until the wee hours of the morning.  But you don’t hear them from the esplanade in town! 

There is also the less than desirable neighborhoods outside the touristy areas mainly from the communist era of concrete apartment buildings.  But for the most part there are just not enough adjectives to describe this place! It is really really hard to believe it exists. 

As you can see in the photo’s one of the little zoos in the park was giving away balloons to everyone. 

Just looked back at the last post on Varna and realized I repeated a lot of things about this place.  The thing of it is is it deserves repeating.  I’m getting old so I am allowed!!  I will be back!!!  

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

From the moment I arrived this place has just given off this super good vibe!!!  I had no idea at all didn’t have any clue what to expect!!!! 

So just got back from dinner.  I splurged tonight and had a big bowl of cream of asparagus soup, big burger and homemade chips.  Then went and had 2 big scoops of really really good ice cream for a grand total of $6.70 not bad HUH!  Ya and that was with tip.  I think it is cheaper here than Mexico. 

One problem is if they don’t have an English version of the menu you are shit out of luck trying to figure it out.  The writing is similar to the Greek or Russian alphabet or maybe is so I am totally lost trying to figure it out.  Most young people speak English and a few older do too especially if they are tourist related so that helps a lot. 

It was interesting they weighed the ice cream and charged by the weight.  So you get a good count every time you don’t have to depend on who is dishing up the scoop.  Had chocolate and pistachio it came to $2.10 was going to get another it was so good.  But it started to rain so headed back to the room thought it was going to pour. 

I like this spot thinking I may walk on the wild side and spend the $41 a night with breakfast.  I can get a nice place for $25-30 but not with the location this place has got.  The place I ate was just on the street below my room and the ice cream place 50′ from it.  Pretty convenient HUH.  Think I’ll be here for a while all things look good for a longer stay! 

It’s hard to get used to the money difference.  Like the meal was 6.99 Lev and you think ah that’s not bad for soup, sandwich and the chips.   Then you realize it is really $4 pretty crazy.  Same with the ice cream you think oh $3.70 for 2 scoops not bad but it is $2.10 and it was super creamy ice cream. 

Been on the balcony all evening watching people go by gives me something to do beside just sitting on the computer all night.  There are tons of people of all kinds walking by constantly.  I have a big balcony, big table, couple comfortable chairs and an umbrella if I need it for the sun.  Can sit out here and watch the world go by.  Literally! 

All the places I’ve been have had TV but I haven’t turned any on since I left Florida.  No desire I have all the entertainment I need!  This esplanade is huge probably 75-100′ wide and goes on for a long ways haven’t even begun to see it all.  I especially like it because the esplanade doesn’t have any vehicles not even motorcycles or scooters. 

I can tell you sitting on this balcony is great so many people coming by.  Young and old just walking along having a good old time.  Kids playing, dogs playing everyone having fun makes it fun for me too!  GREAT!!!  I can probably see 100 people at any given time here.  It’s such a big area it doesn’t look crowded at all. 

It’s so nice to see all these different people so mellow and happy just walking along laughing and having fun.  People pushing strollers, kids playing kick ball doesn’t get much better to me.  Who would have ever thought about these countries!  Hell I barely knew they existed and they are so nice! 

I really really think once I get a really good day of exploring in I will love it even more.  It looks like it has so much potential and I haven’t even seen a small part of it yet! 

Well decided last night if the breakfast was good I would bite the bullet and pay up for a week.  Breakfast was great so I paid for a week and had them block out another.  Told them I’d let them know in a couple of days for sure on the other one. 

Walked for 4 miles thru the park by the sea today.  It’s a little more than 2 each way.  Paths along the cliffs above the sea with exercise gadgets.  I get to watch the giant ships coming and going from the Bosphorus Strait to places along this coast and down past Istanbul.  Tons of Benches and WC’s.  Paths winding everywhere through it.  Paths in the middle divided by patterned decorations of flowers, fountains, streams with wooden bridges, statues. 

All kinds of stuff for kids to do little amusement parks, little Zoo, tennis courts what looks like an olympic size swimming pool may be smaller but it is big.  Plus another pool for high diving.  Restaurants all along the water.  I would never in the world have thought I would find this kind of thing here.  It’s like finding a hidden gem that no one knows about! 

Just went to dinner had a huge piece of Musaka a big cup of creme brulee to go and 2 big scoops of chocolate and pistachio ice cream on the way home.  All for $5.25 not bad HUH except for the waistline. 

Yes I feel very at home here it is a really really good feeling after all the looking!  Pretty cool!!!  I don’t think it is on to many peoples in the states travel list so so much the better! It sure is on mine now!!!  Maybe I have finally found the tail of the wagging dog or the dog of the wagging tail however that goes!!! 

It’s kind of strange because I really haven’t seen that really old architecture thing going on.  I’m sure there is the old I just haven’t searched enough to see it yet.  It’s like this time I don’t even care about one of my biggest desires in a place.  This place just feels good even without it.  I mean there is old just not as picturesque so far.  There maybe places that are but I just don’t seem to care this time.  The feel here is just so laid back and the people are just so mellow. 

Well after spending a good amount of time last night thinking about it.  Went down this morning and booked the place for another 3 weeks.  Did a long walk around the town today there is not much of any great architectural thing going on mostly looks like communist era buildings.  Not much design to them.  Not many stand out kind of places.

So it’s not like a Guadalajara or Bucharest.  The thing here is the parks along the sea and the long wide pedestrian walks.  Plus there are many beaches some small in little coves some big.  I like it here because it is cheap and really laid back.  A place to regroup a little from the trip.  Not one of the most picturesque places I have been but one of the mellowest. 

Mostly a Bulgarian vacation spot like Guadalajara was to Mexicans.  The place is clean the people are great and the vibe is super mellow that is what this place is about. 

I guess the bottom line here for me is I am a cheap SOB.  I don’t have to worry about going out to eat and thinking about how much it is and can I afford it.  If I want an ice cream or to stop for a beer I can just DO IT!  Without going OH that’s to much buy one at a convenience store and bring it back to the room. 

I can sit on my balcony or a park bench and watch tons of very happy people walking by.  It will be great to be able to live here with that kind of vibe all the time.  I can also walk for miles through beautiful parks.  I need to just sit some place and relax for a while and this is the best place for that so far.  In the next 3 weeks I want my biggest problem to be where to find this Bulgarian Rakia that is made with grapes and other fruit!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!  Dave  

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

Well wish I could say Constanta was a big hit too but it isn’t.  I have a really super nice room and balcony and the breakfast here is great.  Along with the owners.  So really wish it was! 

The breakfast reminds me of the ones I used to get in Greece.  The town on the other hand leaves a whole lot to be desired.  What little old town is left is pretty devastated and in really poor shape.  There is a lot of work going on to improve things but it has a long long way to go before it ever amounts to much.  I don’t think I will ever see it in my lifetime. 

The beach is nice but you have to walk a long ways down a stepped walkway to get to it.  Plus the town in general isn’t kept to clean and there is a lot of trash around.  I think it’s a case of lack of money. 

There is another section called Mamaia a little North of here that is supposed to be nice but is all modern semi high-rises along another long stretch of beach.  So I guess the bottom line is if you are coming for the beach and the beach alone then you’re in business.  If not I would look elsewhere!  Sorry Constanta just my opinion!  Next stop Varna, Bulgaria in the morning.

Well the architecture is big and bold here lots of massive buildings but other little ones spread throughout.  All the huge ornately decorated sheet metal domes and roofs.  Something I haven’t seen much of anywhere else.  They all stem from many different cultures.  It’s has touches from Romania, Turkey, Greece and Russia.  Pretty impressive! 

So it’s like 10:30 and I was just sitting on my balcony and this little old lady was across the road walking her dogs.  She was dressed in her pink silk pajamas of shirt and pants with her two dogs in tow.  There is this little fenced in park across the street for dogs to do their thing and be able to run around.  There is a little gate for her to open and let them run free. 

Watched her leave after and she apparently lives on the other side of the main highway.  A six lane road through town at the end of this road which isn’t far.  I watched her go across the highway till she was out of sight but figure she lives in the apartment building across the way. 

It just seemed so out of place.  Not something I was expecting to see in the heart of a big city!  I mean there is a good size bus stop here too with quite a few people.  Made me look twice guess if you live here it is no different than anywhere else.  HAHA it made me laugh inside!!  She’s like what the hell do I care! 

It’s time for the homeless etc to come out so that was quite a change up on that!  It is a very safe neighborhood the Old Palace is just down the street a couple buildings from here.  Doesn’t take much to entertain me anymore!!!  Gotta Love It!! 

The last 3 days have been rain so haven’t done much.  Met this scientist a old guy that met me to let me into the new place I am staying.  We talked for a long while that day and I really liked meeting him.  He had a lot of good things to say.  He is a friend of the owner and she was out of town so he came by to do it for her. 

His name is Garbiz and he came by the other day again to bring some supplies and spent about 3 hours more talking with me.  He is a super nice old guy really jovial and happy.  Very well dressed with shirt, tie, sweater, wool coat, wool hat and umbrella should have got a picture.  Looked liked the perfect gentleman straight out of London.  It was quite a contrast from me in my jeans and tee shirt etc. 

It was fun talking to him he knows so much about so many things.  His specialty is plants and animals that coexist together and survive off one another.  One hand feeding the other.  Plus how their shapes evolved to be able to blend into their surroundings.  Like so many moths and butterflies that only survive because of specific plants and visa versa and can hide just by sitting still and blending in. 

He is pretty sharp and knows I don’t know how many languages English, Russian, Greek, Latin, Chinese and a lot of others. Pretty cool!  Told him we will have to get together again after the rains which should be over tomorrow. 

Bucharest has been a very pleasant surprise from what I was expecting!  Every time I go for a walk I go in a different direction and there are parks all along the way.  Still can’t believe how many huge treed parks there are here.  They are everywhere. 

Another really nice thing is people actually stop for you in the crosswalks.  Interesting concept HUH!!  Unlike the totally out of control mess in Italy.  Very glad I came and may have to add it to my lists of places to return.  Although it will always just be a stop over.  I’m just not into big cities.  It does get very hot here in the summer. 

Right now I am looking for a place that I could come for the 3 summer months out of the Schengen Zone and not have it be sweltering.  So we will see have many more stops to make.  Know I probably won’t be able to be by the sea then it will be just too crowded, hot and expensive.  I need something inland thinking something a fair bit smaller than this.  To many emissions here even with all the green it makes my throat burn this is a big city. 

The hardest part here has been getting used to the money difference.  The dollar here is worth 25 cents so I am always thinking the price is high but in fact it is so much cheaper.  It is half or less of what it would cost in Italy or even Spain.  I still have to stop and think about it.  I see 12 Rom for something and I’m thinking 12 Euro but it is 3. 

Just like for the longest time I was looking at these real nice pastries and thinking I wish they weren’t 3 Euro I’d buy one right away but 3 is just too high.  Then I realized you dummy they are 75 cents.  The pasties in Italy were 2-3 Euro so it just stuck in my mind.  The only problem now is walking by and not buying one!!! 

It’s pretty nice they have many little places that put out trays of different foods and you pick what you want.  They put it in a container to microwave later and for $3.50- $5.00 you have a nice meal for dinner!!!  I don’t like to go out to eat because I always feel alone when I do.  Sitting there at a table all by yourself never has appealed to me for that reason.  It’s like sticking it in your face that you are alone. 

The meals tend to be a little better eating out but what I have been getting take out has been great.  It is all home cooked. 

Looking forward to checking out the Black Sea area.  Will start in Constanta here and then head South into Bulgaria it is even cheaper there and looks like the places on the coast may be nicer from the photos.  Not expecting much from Constanta after looking at the photos but it is the starting point and may be I will be surprised.

VLAD DRACULA 1456-1462 THE COUNT

VLAD THE IMPALER

 TOP ROMANIA 

I am now in the very heart of Bucharest.  Super good vibe!!!!  I came here on the 19th spent all day traveling to get here from Italy.  Train Polignano Mare to Bari.  Bus to airport.  Plane to Bucharest.  Bus to center.  It took most of day. 

The next day I spent all day trying to find another place to rent because the place I was staying did not have more nights.  The next day I moved to where I am now. 

Yesterday I spent 4 hours trying to put money in the ladies account at the bank so I can stay another 12 days.  Plus the 3 days I rented through Airbnb.  I made a good deal with her to stay longer without Airbnb.  But it took 4 hours trying to get the money in her account because she wanted it in Euro. 

She sent me to a branch office near here to put the money in.  I went there and they sent me to the other side of town to the main office because they don’t have any cash at this branch.  So I went there. They told me I couldn’t get Euro without an account. 

So I then tried many different ATMs nearby to get Euro but none give Euros unless you have an account.  So I had to use an ATM get Rom then take the Rom and change to Euro.  Then take the Euro and put in her account.  So it would clear before my 3 days I booked with her were up.  Anyways it was crazy. 

It is my fault because I wait to the last minute to decide what I want to do.  So today is the first day I really get to see Bucharest other than running around trying to get things done.  I walked around for 4 hours looking at the sights and it is a beautiful city.  So many huge parks with lakes, fountains, trees and flowers everywhere. 

They are just now starting to put the summer annual flowers in but there are many spring ones blooming.  There is also a wide canal type river the Dambovita that runs through the center of town.  There are plenty of huge old buildings mixed with new ones with interesting designs.  It’s not all Wine and Roses there are also many communist era buildings that are not so nice. 

The main boulevard going through the center has wide esplanades on both sides of the street next to the sidewalks going along the buildings.  They are lined with trees for shade on both sides of each esplanade not just one side. 

So it is like a tunnel where the limbs from one side meet the other.  There are also many benches to sit at along the way.  The center dividing the traffic is one long strip of fountains with the water spraying and dancing up and down all the time and they are lined with roses and other flowers. 

It is pretty amazing nothing like I expected in a poor country.  There is just so much green.  Full grown old trees line every street most of the time on both sides. 

It is kind of like finding Guadalajara by mistake only a lot bigger.  A hidden gem.  Plus all these parks are suppose to be perfectly safe to walk through at night.  There is just enough security people to make it feel safe and not overwhelming. 

There are Porta Potties or WC’s all over so that covers me.  It has more to offer so far in just the short walk I did then most big cities I have been.  The people are very friendly and are really really nice to you.  Plus most speak English.  Other than the room problems it has been a very enjoyable time here. 

I now have until the 5th of June and am thinking maybe I will stay a couple more weeks longer.  I want to walk and look for a couple more days before I decide.  The food is great it is really diverse and so many different things to offer.  Best of all they have real Greek yogurt here and that really thick Turkish one I like.  I was hoping they would have and they do! 

The women are beautiful and there are many universities in the center here.  So lots to look at!!!  I am really glad to say goodbye to Italy they can have it all to themselves.  Which is the feeling I got in most of the places I went not all but most. 

To be fair I was only in 8 places and there are so many many more that may be much better.  Plus the people I did meet that were nice were real nice.  So may have been bad choices of the places I went on my part. 

At any rate I’m not interested in wasting any more time looking for now!  I am really liking this place so far.  The weather is the perfect temp for walking and living!  Another good thing is it is about the same cost of living as it is in Mexico. 

The first photo is the Parliament Palace it is the 2nd largest administrative building in the world next to the Pentagon!

Well the last few days I have been trying to wrap my head around which way to turn.  I know most everyone’s opinion is that I should leave!  I don’t really feel unsafe.  But I can’t say that all the news isn’t making me uncomfortable. 

The terrorist attacks although terrible haven’t bothered me much.   Other than the fact that they are horrible but because they are so isolated.  It is different then this new issue and it is totally something else altogether! 

If I go back and stay with my sister although I love her.  I will just be sitting around with my thumb up my ass.  With nothing to do for a while till I figure out what’s next.  Plus I will have lost a bunch of money because the place I am staying and paid for till the end of August. 

The place isn’t likely to give me a refund and I will lose the cost of the flight back.  I can make up for the room cost by staying at sisters.  So I guess it is really just the extra cash of the new flight back. 

I wasn’t concerned at all but have since begun to wonder if I am doing the right thing staying.  Or am I just being stubborn and unwise?  The last few days have been especially hard on me.  I am very confused as to which way to go. 

I can’t say that the seed of worry hasn’t set in and it will be very hard to remove.  Because everyday it seems like more stuff going on to worry about.   

I am concerned because of the language barrier.  I can’t get info from anyone here other then vendors or hotel owners that speak English enough to get by.  I did talk to a few today but they are here to make money and if you leave they are out so it is really biased. 

I’m not used to giving into fear but at the same time.  I can’t live with it over my shoulder all the time either.  Tough decision!! 

The thing that really got me the other night was those F16’s coming in across the the night sky.  From a red dot the size of a laser pointer on the horizon.  To being just above the ground over your head in seconds.  Afterburners shooting flames out the rear as long as the planes themselves. 

The horrendous noise that rattled the windows.  And made my ashtray bounce on the table on the balcony.  The shots and explosions in the background.  It was pretty intimidating and if I hadn’t been drunk I might have pissed myself!!! 

Talked to the landlady today and there is no chance of a refund can’t blame her.  She hasn’t had my place for rent so she would end up losing and I have her best room.  No big deal. 

In case I had to I had several escape routes planned out.  But I’m not the young guy I once was!  Now it is only in my heart the other part is gone! 

Even with the multiple exit strategies down.  Including all the different routes, Trams, Buses and Ferries schedules.  I would have still needed the energy after I got to the borders to make it out.  That takes youth and I just don’t have it in me. 

Although I probably would have made it happen if I had too.  I just decided I didn’t feel up for that kind of an adventure anymore!  PISSES ME OFF but it is what it is.  The old boy just doesn’t have it in him any more! 

The final straw was the rounding up of thousands of people even slightly or remotely involved from so many sides of society.  And talk of reinstating the death penalty. 

The talk of a mass cemetery to be named for those involved.  So they could forever be deemed as traitors and the unfaithful.  So people could spit on their graves. 

Now there are a few in the government saying the USA knew about it.  As much as I have tried to put these issues aside as terrible as they are.  They have become to overwhelming for me to deal with.  And it has become impossible to live with.  Without the fear of more to come. 

As much as I do love my place on the top of the city.  And being able to watch the world pass by in so many different ways.  It has become overwhelming with too much uncertainty for me. 

It is not the peaceful and tranquil place it once was for me!  I feel like I am giving up for many reasons but a lot of it is fear.  I hate that most of all.  It is a little embarrassing to me for that reason! 

I have decided to leave and have booked my flight back to Miami! 

I can’t say how bad I feel about the direction the world is taking.  Of terror, hate and fear! 

What is going to be left for our children if we keep on this way?  Thanks for being part of this adventure NEXT!!!!  Dave

I have been following the news of course and they are saying that Erdogan the president is rounding up all kinds of people. 

I have been walking throughout the city everyday and have seen nothing of that sort of thing going on.  Although I’m sure there is truth in it.  It is just not visible to me even slightly. 

No signs of massive police movements of any kind.  Other then there are a lot more of them and they are heavily armed.  But they are protecting tourist areas as far as I can see. 

I can say one thing it has decimated the tourist industry here that so many need to survive on.  When I walk down the streets and alleys past all the hoteliers, restaurants, rug, spice, candy, nut shops and clothing and fabric bazaars.  There are thousands of these little places. 

I see great sadness in the eyes of the once happy shop owners.  Knowing that what they count on for their main income of the entire year has been destroyed.  With no chance of coming back anytime soon.  They sit outside their doors on little wooden stools or on benches nearby. 

With nothing to do except hope that one or two of the few remaining tourists will come in.  And purchase something so they can feed their families and pay their help.  Not all are affected as greatly as those in the tourist trade but it trickles down to all in someway or another. 

I have spent many hours walking around to different areas everyday.  It is the same everywhere!  Sadness so great when after looking at you to see if you will come in.  And you pass them by they hang their heads in their hands.  SAD VERY SAD.  That so few can do this to so many! 

Today things seem to be somewhat back to normal in the old town and people are out and about doing the tourist kind of things.  Those that are left anyways. 

If I feel it necessary to leave I will but at the moment things seem to be quieting down so I will stay.  I understand what all my friends are saying to me but the people here are behind him. 

We see things a whole lot differently in the West then people here do.  So who am I to say they are wrong.  If they want to live their life this way it is their choice not mine. 

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 11:21 PM: Jason wrote

Sounds like there was an attempted coup in Turkey just now – keep your head down! Might be time for a change of scenery, I hear SE Asia is beautiful this time of year.

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 11:35 PM, David wrote

Thanks for the info not much out yet as far as news.  I hear no commotion and I am pretty much next to the main Sultanahmet Square.  But it might be on the Asian side.

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 11:54 PM, David wrote

The president is in Ankara.  I can’t see the bridges they say the army has taken over from here but I hear no disturbance of any kind.  Do here a helicopter flying around but they are always doing that.

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 11:59 PM, David wrote

They did raise the tax on booze and cigarettes this week don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 12:06 AM, David wrote:

There were a couple of choppers going by just now one with lights which sounded bigger and one with no lights heading toward the bridges.  Still no sounds of gunfire!

On Jul 16, 2016, at 12:10 PM, David wrote:

Holly shit now we have fighter jets screaming by!  I saw 3 red spots on the horizon like laser dots.  The next thing I know is there are 3 F-16’s over the top of me only a couple hundred feet above the ground full afterburner.  The flame coming out the rear was as long as the plane and the noise was enough to hurt your ears.  I wouldn’t have had the chance to walk from the table on the balcony to the sliders coming out.  From the time I saw the 3 red dots to the time they were over the top of me.  My ashtray on the table was bouncing and the widows and doors were shaking in the house.  OH OH they are coming around again!  Damn!

On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 12:21 AM, Jason wrote:

Lights out, shades closed and head down. Oh and sleep tight 🙂

On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 12:23 AM, David wrote:

I’ll give it my best shoot but it sure is putting a dent in my Vodka

On Jul 16, 2016, at 12:35 PM, David wrote:

Plenty of fly by’s now but no bangs. It’s going to be hard to sleep with all the noise from these jets they are flying low and fast really really fast!!

On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 12:55 AM, David wrote:                                                                                                                                                                           

Saw the first ship go thru the strait guess it must be OK.  Think I can hear gun fire a long ways away but not sure could be fireworks!  Who knows they will figure it all out and tomorrow is another day.  I am fine and if you don’t hear from me for a while it is because they have shut off contact with the outside not because I am in any danger.  This is a military thing not a people thing.  Everyone should be fine! I am about to go to sleep it is 1am if I hear banging I will get up that’s all.  Jets have stopped their fly by thing for now!  Tomorrows a new day!  I hope!!! 

Hey everyone just got into Istanbul yesterday after 3 beautiful months on the Island of Crete. 

It is a place in time I will never forget.  I had a family take me in like there own.  Many parties.  Many good times we were all sad to part ways. 

I would go there to live but the language barrier is very hard.  Because I can’t speak with the people and I want to.  But just am not capable of learning Greek.  I didn’t have any trouble getting anything I needed but the lack of communication is to much at least for now. 

My 90 days were up so I had to leave.  In the Schengen Zone which is most of the major countries in Europe.  You only get 90 days in and then you have to leave for 90.  Then you can come back and repeat.  Don’t ask me why it is just the way it is.  So I have come to Turkey because it is not a part of the Schengen Zone and I can have 90 days here too. 

I will miss my Greek family there very much.  They were too kind to me.  Unbelievable people!!!! 

I have a penthouse apt in the old city sounds higher class then it is.  The 3 flights of stairs give me a kick in the ass.  But it is a halfway decent studio and has a balcony.  Which is hard to come by in Istanbul. 

I look out over the Marmara Sea to the South and the Bosphorus Strait and the new city in Asia to the East.  On the North side I have a big window that opens all the way looking out onto the Blue Mosque.  A really huge and famous site.  I’ve got a nice breeze blowing thru and am glad I am so high.  Because it was hot here today down in the city there’s not much air circulating between the buildings. 

There are ships of every kind and size going up thru the Straight to the Black Sea.  They are all piled up on this end and probably the other waiting their turn.  Pretty cool to see.  I have the top of a tree blocking the view just a little to the Maramas. 

I was just sitting out there and there were 4 or 5 Green Parrots eating the berries out of it.  Pretty good size birds pretty nice to see.  I have huge seagulls on all the rooftops everywhere.  It gets pretty noisy but reminds me of Cape Cod. 

I just found out that 3 terrorists blew themselves up today at the same Airport I came Into yesterday.  These guys are nothing but cowards unable to do anything except kill innocent men, women and children.  It is another sad day for humanity.  People that can’t live their own lives.  Deciding to kill innocent people with them on the way out. 

There has been so many lately.  Unfortunately it is something we have to deal with by not letting them put fear into how we live our lives.  I am very sad for those that died today. 

You can’t look back you just have to keep going forward.  Or the people doing this kind of thing win the game that they are playing with us all. 

For me life is real real good and I am really glad I made the move to set myself FREE.  I can’t imagine ever going back to what I had.  I am so much more at peace now.

THE PALACE
THE PALACE

dsc_0498dsc_0517dsc_0516dsc_0576dsc_0541dsc_0529dsc_0519dsc_0511dsc_0598dsc_0599dsc_0614

dsc_0634
BLUE MOSQUE

dsc_0647 dsc_0650 dsc_0652 dsc_0655 dsc_0657

HAGIA SOPHIA
HAGIA SOPHIA

dsc_0009dsc_0022dsc_0020dsc_0015dsc_0014

For More Photos Only of Istanbul click Back To Turkey Below

So as I do every morning I get up and have my coffee or tea and something to eat.  Then leave for my walk. 

I walk along the esplanade of the beautiful Maramas sea and then turn the corner and head up along the Bosphorus Strait.  Sitting every now and then to watch the monster ships and fishermen coming in and out. 

It is one of the busiest straits in the world and goes North to the Black Sea from here.  It is quite a long walk!  The esplanade that runs along the sea and strait is separated by a major highway and train tracks on the other side of it. 

At the end of the esplanade there is a traffic light so you can cross the highway.  Then a little bridge over the railroad tracks.  It leads up to a huge beautiful tree shaded park that runs along one side of the Old Sultan’s Palace. 

There are many paths and beautiful gardens everywhere.  There are many benches to sit at all along the way.  So it is a pretty relaxing spot and there is a bathroom YAY! 

I then head up into the center of town and to Sultanahmet Square.  To once again take in the views.  Of the gigantic Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia the Old Mosque turned into a Cathedral many years ago.  It is an incredible spectacle to see beauty everywhere you look.  Once again many benches to sit at and take it all in. 

The Sultan’s Old Palace is behind the Hagia Sophia and is incredible in it’s own right.  They are all open to the public and are one of the major tourist attractions in town.  There is also the main Museum and several other buildings to see. 

Then depending on how I feel I either walk up the hill to the Grand Bazaar or back to the house.  The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world.  It is crazy with things to buy.  It takes me from 3 to 4 hours to make the rounds and is the biggest part of my day.  It is truly amazing what there is here to see!!

dsc_0634
BLUE MOSQUE ISTANBUL
dsc_0641
HAGIA SOPHIA ISTANBUL                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
BOSPHORUS STRAIT ISTANBUL
BOSPHORUS STRAIT ISTANBUL
MARAMAS SEA ISTANBUL
MARAMAS SEA ISTANBUL

For Photos only of other Places in Turkey click TURKEY

It has been a little more than two months now.  And the stress, little bouts of depression, anxiety, restlessness to get on with the journey have left me behind. 

My days are now filled with a great calming, peaceful and relaxing feeling of having finally arrived where I should be.  The very kind people.  The laid back atmosphere the smiles and laughter all in different languages make it a very special place. 

Today like every day now I spend 3 -4 hours walking around.  I first head uptown to get my double Cappuccino.  From this coffee shop next to a nice little park in the center of town.  The girls there are always smiling and now have it started when they see me coming. 

I sit in the park and watch the people walk by for a while and then head down to the harbor.  Stopping first in the cathedral plaza for a little more people watching.  I take little sips in each spot till it is gone.  It doesn’t seem to buzz me out like regular coffee. 

Today it was blowing a full gale from the Cretan sea.  So much so in certain places along my walk you had to lean into it. The Sea is warming now so the wind is only slightly cool just about perfect. 

Each place I go and sit at a bench along the way offers something different for the eye to see.  Feast on and absorb good thoughts.  Today I went to the park just outside the wall of the old city.  Along the entrance of the harbor.  The wind was blowing so hard where I was sitting it was like getting this amazingly great massage. 

When I went to get up after being there for quite some time.  It was like coming out of a trance.  Even a little dizzying WHEW pretty nice.  So many different spots to sit at and each and everyone like a dream.  If I close my eyes I feel like I am drifting off into space.  Then have to open them to come back. 

I now know the names of Julie’s little girls there are three.  And when they come by they always have a new word for me to say.  They laugh when I can’t pronounce it correctly.  Then they do it broken down into pieces so I can get it. 

Julie brings me meal after meal even though I tell her not to.  Because I know she is very busy with this place and family but she insists.  They are all fantastic with animals from their farm Lamb, Pork, Chicken.  It just doesn’t get any better than this. 

I don’t remember if I told you or not but Julie has the second floor with 4 rooms Julie’s studios.  Her brother has the first floor with 4 rooms Blue Studios.  Her father has the third floor with rooms.  Don’t know what the name of that is yet. 

Because he doesn’t rent till later in season prime time.  So the kids can rent theirs off season.  He also has the ground floor that is commercial.  He lives in the penthouse on top where I had the first party with the family.  Pretty sweet arrangement and all are nice as can be!! 

I also go by and visit Katrina the lady from the last place I stayed for a while.  Usually on Thursday when they have the big market over by there.  They also have it on Saturday next to where I am now.  All the vegetables are fresh from the ground.  She has nothing but I have never seen her when she isn’t smiling and happy! 

I am very CONTENT here.  It is a word that has escaped me for a very long time!!!  LIFE IS REALLY REALLY GOOD!!!!

CHANIACHANIACHANIACHANIAdsc_0011

 

 

So my adventure and day putting up what Julie said would be a corral for their sheep.  My picture of a corral and hers turned out to be two totally different things!!  In my mind I pictured a pen because she said it was to hold their sheep in. 

Her father picked me up in the morning and off we went and drove up into the mountains to a little village.  We stopped at a house it was Julie’s brothers wife’s family.  We waited there and had coffee and some had shots of RAKI.  I refrained while waiting for everyone else to come.  There ended up being a lot of people to help.   

We loaded a bunch of fence on 4 or 5 trucks and everyone into the trucks.  And headed down a rough dirt road further into the mountains.  I’m thinking well this isn’t going to be a very big coral.  By the amount of fence we loaded this will be a piece of cake. 

We stopped on the top of the mountain because that is where the road ended.  You could see the Cretan sea off in the distance it was so high.  I’m wondering how we are going to build a corral here because there was no flat place. 

Everyone gets out and heads down this path and at the end there is this huge pile of 20′ long lengths of fence.  And a big pile of rebar alongside a path cut down the side of this mountain. 

I then realized this was going to be no small pen!!!  To make a long story short we ended up building a fence around this whole side of a mountain.  From the top to the gorge down at the bottom and back up again!!!  It was so steep you could hardly stand up.  I YAI YAI YAI YAI !!!! 

I thought I was going to have the big one before I finally got back up to the top again.  My hands were bleeding from all the cuts from the fence and blistered.  From tying so many pieces of wire around the fence to the rebar!  OH GOD WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO THIS TIME. 

But it all ended well and I did make it back to the top albeit very slowly!!!  We stopped for a couple of beers at the house we started at. Then headed to Julie’s house for the big meal she was making.  With the 2 sheep and 2 lambs they had killed from their farm. 

I never saw any sheep so don’t even know where they were!  On a different mountain no doubt!  I didn’t ask either. 

We headed back into town but not before stopping along a orange orchard to fill bags full of oranges.  Then turned over rocks picking up escargot for the meal.   

The party after the day on the mountain was great!   These photos are of the men after many gallons of wine have been drank.  And I mean many at different tables singing these songs.  That they sing at feasts like this.  It has happened every party just forgot to say. 

One starts and then it goes around from table to table.  Each taking his turn in a very trance like song or so it sounds to me anyway.  They all sing like they are bringing the sound from deep inside.  And most sing it with their eyes shut most of the time pretty cool stuff!!  I didn’t know what they were saying.  It  just felt really really good to hear!!  It was amazing and is something I will never forget. 

It was just this really really amazing day and lasted into the evening with an amazing bunch of people!  If only I could have understood all that was said it would have been the icing on the cake!!! 

So today it is back to my walking, swimming in the sea and trying to recoup from the party.  When I jumped in the sea today.  The salt from the sea made me almost yell when it hit my hands and all the cuts and blisters on them.  After I got out they did feel better so I guess it was good for them!!!!

dsc_0158
THE HOSTESS
dsc_0083-2
THE HOST
SINGERS
THE SINGERS

dsc_0101dsc_0097

dsc_0011-2
THE PARTIERS

dsc_0130

So I have moved from Katerina’s To Julie’s.  I found this place on the other side of the old town for 30 Eur a night.  So jumped at it because all the rents go up in May.
Young pretty lady that just opened up this place.  I had a great time talking to her.  She and the place are super nice and it is overlooking the esplanade and harbor. 
She asked me when she found out how old I was.  How do Americans all look so young and that she had a grandfather my age that really looked old!  I THINK that made me feel better!! 
She came and picked me up the last day at Katerina’s.  Anyways I’m now here for a month or more and just may go for the last month too.  When I was walking over here trying to find the place.  I came across a farmer’s market going on.  On this side of town turned out to be the same one different day of the week. 
So it worked out real good got all kinds of good veggies to bring back here.  I was pissed that the one over at Katerina’s was the day before I got here.  I didn’t want to lug all my stuff plus food so I didn’t buy. 
It was going to be a 20 or more minute walk.  Julie picked me up anyways so it wouldn’t have mattered.  But I didn’t know she was going to then. 
I mean I bought 3 tomatoes and 5 cucumbers for 50 cents along with some other stuff!!  All the restaurants I eat at the meals are meat and fries and a couple slices of tomato and lettuce. 
I mean you can order vegetables as a side but then you double the bill.  And of course I’m too cheap to do that and it is way more than I can eat even if I did. 
So tonight I eat lots of VEGETABLES YAY!!!  So that’s life here and it is real good and getting better all the time!!!  I am so into this it’s scary!!!

 

So I found a nice spot to rent on my return to Chania.  I am sitting here on my balcony overlooking the Aegean sea with my tunes cranked up listening to the blues. 

The balcony is big enough for a dining room table and I’m 50 or so feet in the air.  Plus I have another small balcony on the back side still with a water view.  What’s not to like about this. 

Went down to talk to Katerina the landlady tonight.  But she had some guy who was like these two cats that were in heat in the street.  And the male trying to mount up the female every chance he got.  And the female wasn’t having anything to do with it. 

So came back up to my room poured another drink.  And am sitting here really enjoying life and all it’s pleasure’s.  I have this place for a week. 

Today I found another place for a month.  Katrina is booked up.  Plus she couldn’t do me this place as cheap as she gave it to me.  Any how I would have paid up.  But like I said she’s booked up at twice what’s she’s charging me. 

Katerina is so sweet everyone that walks by she is greeting and going into the street to hug them.  The other day a couple of women friends one was  pretty old with a cane came by.  She was out there in the street dancing with them.  I don’t know what about but they were all having fun. 

This morning I go down to have a coffee because she always wants me too.  And then I have to have cheese, bread and pound cake etc.  And then fruit to take back to the room. 

She greets me all upset I guess she had rented this room I’m in to some people.  They were pissed because she put them in another room.  Hell she gave me the best room in the place half of what she was getting from them. 

So of course I said I didn’t care if I had to move.  That I was just happy she gave it to me it in the first place so cheap.  She was almost in tears because she felt like she was messing me up moving me to this room. 

I actually like it better because I don’t have to climb 3 flights of stairs to get to it.  And the kitchen is bigger.  I would never say that to her because she was so excited to give me her best room. 

She is so full of life and feelings I think she is 70.  Tonight I think her husband has come to spend the night they have a house in the country and he works there and her here.  Of course she has to stay here and him there. 

I saw a picture of him and it looked like him who came.  Because she ran out and greeted him and was all excited.  Simple people with nothing that will give you everything for nothing in return. 

I tried to get her to take more after getting to know her but she will have none of it.  And looks at me with a mad face if I keep up about giving more.  She just says I wanted to do and that’s it.  Pretty amazing to me what a sweetheart!!!acordiancafe dsc_0011-2 dsc_0020 dsc_0030 dsc_0104-2dsc_0013dsc_0011-3dsc_0010dsc_0005-3100_0823100_0809-2

For more photos only of Chania click here: CHANIA

In 2016  after leaving Chania I stopped in Rethymno and Heraklion before going to Sita.  I did a little blurb on Sitia in a previous post it is pretty nice.  From there I was going to the last good size town I had not been to before Ierapetra. 

It was a bit of a disappointment because I was hoping it would be the perfect stop.  I was looking for a larger town to stay in for 3 months.  It is a good size town on the South coast but I just didn’t care for it.  It wasn’t bad just not good.  The photos I saw were better than it looked. 

I had been to both Rethymno and Heraklion on two other occasions and wanted to make sure I had remembered them correctly.  So stopped again.  They both leave a lot to be desired.  Rethymno has a very small old section and harbor.  I found it to be very run down and not so clean meaning trash along streets Etc.  And the further out you go the worse it gets. 

The same was true of Heraklion only it did have more of an old part of town and better harbor.  It too had a lot of graffiti and wasn’t that clean.  Heraklion is more of a stop over to catch the ferries to other Islands. 

As is Rethymno to break up the long bus rides across the North coast to and from other towns.  Part of the reason for the dirtiness could have been because it wasn’t the tourist season. 

I have also stopped for short visits at the towns of Kissamos.  And on the South side of the island Frangokastello, Makry Gialos, Ierapetra And Ag Nikolaos on the North side. 

The first Kissamos is the first town you come into where the ferry from the mainland lands.  It is not real interesting other than it has a nice beach and is a place to spend the night when the ferry lands. 

The next three are very small beach towns on the South coast.  Ierapetra being the largest.  But just didn’t cut it for me.  If you want solitude and very nice beaches they fit the bill but like I said very small.  I liked Frangokastello the best of the two.  It was a lot more scenic.

Ag Nikolaos is a pretty nice size town I think second only to Chania in beauty, comfort and atmosphere.  If I had to choose a place to stay again I would choose either of them but I think Chania is the best of all. 

You have to understand that I am looking at these places as extended places to stay.  All would be alright for a short term stay.

SITIA
SITIA

SITIA

MAKRY GIALOS
MAKRY GIALOS

MAKRY GIALOS

AG NIKLAOS
AG NIKLAOS

AG NIKLAOSAG NIKLAOSAG NIKLAOS

FRANGO KASTELLO
FRANGOKASTELLO

IERAPETRA
IERAPETRA

IERAPETRA

Just when you think you have seen it all you realise there is so much more to see.  This harbor with it lights shining across the water at night is truly magical.  It’s like seeing notes electronically played on a computer.  Only in multiple colors depending on how the the wind is blowing they are long or short!!!  Pretty Amazing!!  
So there’s these guys that walk around the harbor day and night.  It’s 12:30 AM now and this guy is walking around with a trident spear like Neptune has.  They have been trying to spear some kind of fish or something don’t know what.  Because I’ve yet to see them hit what they have been aiming for.  Even if they did I wouldn’t be able to see from here what it was.  I figure it is probably octopus that they are after.  
This place has a really good vibe about it but is a little too small for me and short on people and action for me.  But the good feeling that it has is hard to overlook!  I’m going to find it hard to leave here.But feel like I’m the only one here kind of supernatural or bazaar.  Haven’t really pinpointed it other then it is not tourist season yet!!  Little traffic few people crazy.  If only I had a tab of acid!!  NEXT!
dsc_0003
SITIA CRETE
So forgot I was going to give you a little history of the place and surroundings where I am staying here in Chania.  On the island of Crete.
The house was a part of a Venetian Palace from 1200 AD and the hill it is on overlooks the harbor and the surrounding sea.  It is the highest spot in town.  It is what was part of the first settlement on Crete.
Kydonia as it was called was the third largest city established by King Minos of Crete between 3650 and 3000 BC.  At the bottom of the hill are the remains of that settlement.  It is a World Heritage Site. 
Chania I think is the nicest town on Crete and I have been to all of the larger ones.
harbor
CHANIA CRETE

So I am back at the first place I stayed on Crete because the lady offered me a good deal if I stayed a week.  This is my first night back. 

So I am passed out from all the Raki I’ve been drinking and it is 2am.  I hear this weird sound like scraping or tapping on my bathroom window.  It woke me up and so I got up to take a piss and I hear it again on the window. 

Now I’m 3 floors up so I’m wondering what kind of animal is out there.  So I open the window and here’s this pretty little woman sitting on the ledge of the window.  

I’m going what the fuck in my mind and wondering what Greek God sent me this.  I figured I was seeing things.  Then I look down and I see two guys on the top deck 10’ below.  On the house that adjoins this house. 

They are telling me the landlady left the key to their room in the room and they had no way to get in.  Because no one was letting them in from the rooms on the ground floor.  And they couldn’t get a hold of the landlady. 

One was the neighbor and the other this girls boyfriend.  So I’m standing there naked looking at this girl and she is looking at me trying to explain.  HOLY SHIT AM I DREAMING OR WHAT. 

So I tell her I have to put some clothes on and then I come back and let her in.  She says have a good vacation and thanks a lot and goes out the door to their room!  Pretty crazy HUH!!!!  Life’s good and it keeps getting better!!!!

So I have arrived in Chania Crete and this is the second place I am staying.  I am sitting on my balcony overlooking the sea it is dark. 

I am looking down over this little bar restaurant down below me.  I see this really really really huge Saint Bernard and a beautiful women walking down the esplanade. 

She comes over and takes a seat on one of the tables next to the outside wall of the place.  There are two rows of tables all set up with tablecloths and dishes etc. between her and the esplanade. 

She orders a drink and is just hanging out chatting on her phone and relaxing having a peaceful night out.  She has a  ¾ “ rope wrapped around her wrist attached to the dog.  And the dog is just laying there quietly. 

Along comes 3 stray dogs down the esplanade.  They are barking and carrying on at every passing dog and owner like it is their territory.  They get opposite the lady with the Saint Bernard and decide they are going to harass her and her dog too. 

Big mistake the Saint Bernard leaps up dragging the lady and all through the tables that are set up going after them.  There are tables overturned and glass everywhere.  Whoa what a mess! 

The poor women finally gets control of the dog and the strays go screaming off down the street. 

She brushes herself off like nothing ever happened and comes back to the table where she was sitting as it is one of the few left standing. 

The waiters in the restaurant are all out cleaning up the mess.  She sits down orders another drink and carries on with her night out.  PRETTY CRAZY!  like out of a movie!!!

For more Photos only of Greece click GREECE or GREECE 2