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

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

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

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