I had never been to the Black Sea so, with a few days in Bulgaria to spare, this was the time to check that box. I’ll admit, my expectations were low. We love the Mediterranean (we seriously love the Mediterranean), and there are incredible beaches in Mexico and Thailand and lots of other places. The Black Sea? It’s not at the top of a lot of lists.
This just proves that if you set your expectations low enough, you can be pleasantly surprised. Not the best beach we’ve ever been to, or the best beach town, but ultimately both were pretty good. The weather here in mid-September was just about perfect. The day would start cloudy and cool but it always warmed up and cleared up so that by late morning it was perfect beach weather. There were always plenty of chairs and umbrellas, the water was reasonably warm and clean, there was a great paved trail for walking and running, and it was mostly just nice. Four days of mostly just relaxing and reading is not a bad way to spend time.
There were a couple of discordant notes. One night we went to an Indian restaurant, always our “go to” spot when we want a break from local cuisine. The native Bulgarian woman who owns and runs the restaurant with her Indian immigrant husband starts pining for the days of Soviet-style socialism, when life was good and before all those damned immigrants ruined everything. “So what if you can’t complain about the Prime Minister?” she asked, observing that life was a lot better when everyone had jobs that they didn’t have to work at. I tried to convince her that the system failed because nobody worked and the economy couldn’t produce the goods that people wanted but it was obvious she was having none of that crap. She wants the good old days of security and comfort back – and all those damned immigrants gone.
And then there was our maid service. When we got to the room this motherly Bulgarian woman in her maid uniform latches onto us and just chats and squeezes our cheeks and says she’s going to take great care of us. Definitely a warmer welcome than we’re used to but kind of sweet. And reminiscent of the Soviet days when every floor in a hotel had some older, heavy-set woman who monitored things. You know, make-work jobs.
Well, the sweetness of her welcome started to wear off when every time we came and went from the room she was there to chat and give us hugs and remind us how she was taking care of us. Kind of obviously searching for tips; apparently to Mark she was extremely explicit about that. But you couldn’t come or go without her there to remind you how sweet she was. Need to go back to the room to go to the bathroom? Sorry, gotta chat with her for five minutes first. The sweetness of it all was really gone by the end, when Mark would go way out of his way to avoid the room between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you encounter something we’ve just never experienced before. But, all that aside, we liked our little Black Sea excursion. From here it’s back to Sofia to pick up our new passports than off to Romania.