20 July 2013

Nessebar to Burgas
Burgas to Shumen
A place to stay?  Please?

Time to leave the coast.  We are out of here.  But have to backtrack again.  Well, it is the first time in Bulgaria, but not unusual for us.  Last night we decided to go to Shumen.  It is almost due west of Varna, and we are hoping to go an inland route up, rather than the same way along the coast.Bpostpano2

Catching a bus from Nessebar to Burgas was fairly simple, but due to a personal failing, we stopped to fuel my addiction to coffee at a place just down from the hotel, and we missed the bus.  Not a problem, the next one was in 40 minutes.  We took a last look around the entrance fortifications as we waited, and then on the bus.  Past more built up coast line, and into Burgas.Bpostpano1

My biggest problem with the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria is how built up it all is.  Private beaches filled with Parasols and sun beds.  Massive resort buildings right on the beach, and every inch taken up by bars and restaurants.  It is not the best look for someone that is used to deserted beaches populated by sand crabs and birds.  BpostbeachSure, there were plenty of (massive) seagulls in Nessebar, and the noise these produced rivalled the music coming from the clubs at three in the morning.  It just isn’t the same though.  Sure, there are the other kind of birds, baking themselves into a crisp under the hot summer sun in their G-String bikinis.  Not bad for the bird watching, yet I cannot help thinking about how much the doctors are going to make in the future cutting off skin cancers in interesting places.  There are wild beaches around, but being a tourist without a car they are almost impossible to get to.

BposttownIn Burgas we had a few hours wait until the next bus.  There are only two a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  So we deposited our bags at the station luggage room, and went for a look around.  Burgas may be smaller than Varna, but it feels bigger.  The shops are just as up market, the prices are similar, and there is only one big difference.  You can walk down the foot paths without fear of breaking your ankles.  To kill the time, we went looking for some sand sculptures.  There is a big competition for the month, and there are meant to be 4ha.  Following the Sea Garden, after we found it, along the beach, we walked for ages.  Through town and out the other side.  Past the tourist beaches to where local families were set up under the piers and people exercising on the equipment set up in places.
There was only one thing missing.  The sand castles, sculptures, artworks or what ever you want to call them.  As the Varna Sea Garden is about 10km long, and we had no idea on how long this one was, we turned around and headed back to the bus station.sand2

We were happy though.  There was a good look around town, a walk along the beach, and I even managed to pick up a new pair of shoes.  The old ones were wanted by the Church as a relic, they were so holy.

The bus pulled up, and everyone wanted to get on.  It was only a mini bus, and there were a fair few people wanting to go.  Not being Bulgarian, we just waited.  The driver was selling a few tickets, then decided to load on the luggage.  He refused to load ours without a ticket.  On asking if we could buy one, he ignored us.  This went on for a while.  Apparently most people had pre bought tickets, but he was still selling the occasional one.  After half an hour of acting as if we didn’t exist, we were finally told to wait.  A few other people got the same treatment, and one or two wandered off, others were given tickets.  When it was time for the bus to go, we thought we would be left waiting in its dust to walk over to the railway station to get the first train out of here.  Then he decided to sell us a ticket.  At least we got one.  Our bags were loaded and we set off straight away.  Travel here is a little more expensive than Romania, and it was about 20Lev each to go about 150km!Bpostfeature

The bus needed new shock absorbers.  We were right at the back, and every time we went over a bump, the back would rock up and down for the next 10 seconds or so.  It would have been great on a roller coaster, but not so good on a rough road, and we were not even out of town yet!  That was the good side.  Don’t ask us about the air-conditioning!

However the trip was pretty good, inland and over the old smooth hills.
Fields, Forests and small towns made of mud brick houses.  The country side here is a lot dryer, but still very fertile.

In Shumen, we were not sure what to expect, but not this.  The bus seemed to drop us in the middle of nowhere.  Apparently there was a town, we had seen parts of it on the way in, but there seemed to be nothing around.  Going into the station we could not even find a map of town.  We had found online a place we wanted to stay, but the only way to find them was to ring.  There was a payphone at least, and we gave them a call.  Apparently they don’t answer the phone if it is unlisted, or the phone was left at home or something, as there was no answer.  On the plus side, the station had Wifi, so we could look up a new place and a map.  With no orientation the map was irrelevant, so we searched for another option.  A call to them and we discovered they were full.  The third option did not speak English.  OK, this is promising.  Anna and I decided to walk.  At the other side of the station on the main road, we found a map.  We also found the street that the third option was on, but had no idea where we were.  Shumen has a slight problem with street signs.  They don’t exist!  Asking around we got shrugs and grunts of non-interest.  Eventually one person getting off a bus decided we looked lost and needed help.  He spoke a little English, and we were able to find out where we were.  He asked where we were going to stay, and even rang the guy for us!  This was fantastic, and it was all sorted.  On top of all this, he got us a taxi and PAID FOR IT!  I know we meet people that have shown us a lot of kindness, and each time we appreciate it soo much, and again, we hope that we will do the same when we rejoin society.  Many, Many times.  We need to.

At the place, we had no way to call again, and it turned out to be a set of units.  No names on the outside gate, and inside there was no indication of anyone renting places out.  When we started off down the street in search of a pay phone a car drove past and honked.  It was two young guys.  One was the person renting out the unit, and the other his friend.  He had been roped into it as a translator.  Nice.
The unit was also nice, the room large, the bed comfortable, and it has everything we need.  Bed, toilet, shower, thats all we need.  The kitchen has a microwave, but no stove, but not a problem.  More than we expected honestly.
So all settled in.  Accommodation sorted and a supermarket around the corner.  Lets see what Shumen has to offer.



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