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The surprise, the revelation. It is a little known destination but it is well worth trying. You can relate to it, it leaves its mark on you, and leaves you with an unforgettable memory. This is how we felt during a memorable journey in 2008 in this country out of the ordinary. Its tourist identity is not really defined, and beaten tracks are rather rare, which makes its charm. On the other hand, with the exception of major trunk roads, roads are not in very good condition. Beware potholes!
Bulgaria is still Europe, but a distant Europe, which offers its part of exoticism and adventure. It is the most oriental of Slavic countries.
It has varied and beautiful landscapes, sometimes exotic, cradled with a pleasant climate. Its myriad of Orthodox monasteries, its stunning rural architecture and its elegant metropolis erected under Russian and Austrian influence make its singularity. Still wild, it is made of mysteries, adventures, and a diversity due to the relics of a mix of various civilizations: Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. It blossoms in a multitude of colourful traditions and a street culture bathed in music that recall Turkey.
The seafront there is highlighted in original and unexpected ways : marine gardens as in Varna, botanical gardens and a Summer Palace as in Balchik, and especially the sunflower fields above Zlatni Piassatsi in the direction of Cape Kaliakra.
Finally, know gentlemen that women in Bulgaria are gorgeous !
The Varna region
The coast of the Black Sea, which owes its name to its anthracite reflections interspersed in the infinite blue, includes a few small ports with a Byzantine air.
Varna, airy and vibrant cosmopolitan city, is the capital of this region. Once you crossed the unavoidable bar of grey buildings built during the Communist era, you quickly forget this sad picture entering a lively city center including cafes and restaurants, and walks at the edge of the sea. You can stroll in the many pedestrian streets and the vast and beautiful sea garden where it is good to live. Cultural life is no slouch. The « Varna Summers » includes the international festival of music.
Zlatni Piassatsi, known as « Les Sables d'Or » is the resort that has the largest area of north shore beach. The abundant and varied vegetation of the forest overlooking it offers a rich and refreshing blend of different green shades. Added to the limestone soil, it forms a surprising natural landscape as soon as you leave paved roads and massive tourist buildings.
Towards the North, in the direction of Balchik and beyond Cape Kaliakra, you will be amazed by the vast fields of sunflowers on the coast, slightly raised by the cliff with the Black Sea in the background. The game of colors between the blue of the water and the golden yellow of the large vibrant flowers is striking. This is part of the images that we kept. How to explain it? Perhaps because of this almost insolent ease in how to apply something yet so unusual.
Late afternoon, the Zlatni Piassatsi beach is much less crowded than in middle of the day. The atmosphere is pleasant and soothing.
In the evening, the walk is lively. It is full of cafes, restaurants, night clubs and various attractions, perhaps to excess. There you will even find a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower.
The petrified forest, a few kilometres from Varna in the land, is a surreal natural site, which is the result of a very rare geological phenomenon dating from about fifty million years ago. It is composed of fossilized stones, strange menhirs with incongruous shapes. Some are between five and seven meters high with a diameter approaching three meters.
Balchik & Cape Kaliakra
Balchik, « the White City », is down in a scrubland and spread out on hills that plunge into the sea. Built on several levels as a Mediterranean village, it exudes charm and authenticity - witness its small port which preserved its Greek character.
The essential Summer Palace and the Botanical Garden were built in the 1930s for Queen Marie of Romania. Slightly raised, it overlooks the sea, which seems at hand. Complex of villas, churches, rivers, bridges and gardens, the place calls for calm and sweetness of life. The beautiful architecture, including the neoclassical facades, the elegant walkways from the nineteenth century dotted with trees, the rose garden, the unexpected presence of cactus, waterfalls and pedestrian areas make it an unforgettable place. It's made up of terraces stage overlooking the sea, leading to the Palace which includes an exterior minaret.
Cape Kaliakra is a superb site that offers stunning views of a significant part of the Bulgarian coast. Promontory hoisted on cliffs plunging into the sea, it is one of the most remarkable places on the coast. The ruins of Roman fortifications dating from the 4th century, traces of drawings on rock walls, a small museum nestled in a cave alongside Thracians remains, and a tiny Chapel give the place a strong historical value.
With a bit of luck, you can see with enchantment dolphins jumping out of the water, especially in the morning.
Nessebar & Sozopol
Nessebar, « the city with forty churches », UNESCO world heritage site, is unavoidable. Connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus four-hundred meters long, it stands on a rock peninsula jutting into the sea. Skated serpentine alleys with a secret charm, courtyards with fig trees and houses with wooden galleries make it a unique place. The ruins of Byzantine churches, a colorful port and a beautiful wooden mill put the finishing touches. Each view is breathtaking wherever you are, and the visit is constantly with the squeals of many seagulls.
Sozopol, located a few tens of kilometres from Turkey, is surrounded by beautiful beaches. Built on a rocky peninsula during the Thrace era, it blossoms into a maze of winding and cobbled streets. Each typical fisherman wooden house appears to be unique. Do not hesitate to pace every corner to admire its harmonious silhouette with its cliffs set high up on the sea.
Madara is known for its famous horseman carved on limestone on the side of the cliffs in the 8th century. UNESCO world heritage site, it is a fascinating beauty. It is located in a natural park which includes a monastery carved in rock, a fortress, a tomb and caves. The low relief is dizzying and offers a wide open view to the city of Shoumen and its surroundings.
Published on December 1st 2012