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zaktim Varna - A travel report by Tim
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Varna,  Bulgaria - flag Bulgaria -  Varna
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zaktim's travel reports

Varna: bikinis, bicycles and bahnitsa.

  10 votes

Varna is Bulgaria's 3rd largest city, and potentially the most affluent per capita. It is both a major Black Sea port and a booming summer beach resort town. There's a very modern promenade that takes you down to beach...that's if you don't injure yourself because you were looking at something other than the street in front of you (a common problem for foreign guys in Bulgaria). Bikes are a great way to move around in this part of the world, and bahnitsa is, well, along with strong black coffee, the greasy breakfast par excellence if you were drinking vodka or rakia the previous evening (which you probably were...this being Bulgaria at it's finest - vodka costs about US$2 a bottle).

Favourite spots:
The numerous small street stall where you can obtain the necessary bahnitsa and coffee, to sustain you along the walk down to the beach.

What's really great:
The Black Sea. Contrary to intuitive belief it's actually much less salty than seawater, and is a delight to swim/play/frolic in. Watch out however for pollution in and around cities like Varna.

Accommodations:
Bulgaria has been slow to understand that not all tourists have bucketloads of money that they naturally will want to unload on their poor Bulgarian brothers and sisters. Cheap accomodation is largely non-existent, but you'll be well treated for your money in any of a large number of mid-range hotels in the city. They may even ask if you require a room assistant, it's still a mystery to me - I didn't take up the offer, but I think it's fair to say she wasn't just going to help you get the key in the slot. The mind boggles.

Nightlife:
There are plenty, most of which play a bad combination of homegrown rock and outdated dance music. However, the Bulgarian youth market has come a long way of late and it shouldn't be too hard to find a place playing the latest European and American dance tracks if that's what you're after.

Hangouts:
Bulgarian beer is beautiful and plentiful. There's ongoing debate as to whether Zagorka or Kamenitsa is the brand of choice, and even Stella Artois have a local brewery which is very much up to standard. Pubs themselves are not so common as outdoor beer gardens, which are a delight in the draining heat of the central European summer.

Restaurants:
Are generally of low standard because few Bulgarians can actually afford them. Cafeteria-type restaurants are your best bet.

Other recommendations:
Down the coast near the little tourist town of Sozopol is a famed place for leaping off the cliffs into the crystal water...a practise locally referred to as deep water soloing.

Published on Monday January 27th, 2003


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