Day 1: Getting to Varna
Thursday morning found us sleepy-eyed at the bus station, continuing the hunt for iced coffee, but otherwise ready for the journey to the coastal city of Varna. The six-hour bus ride was a lovely way to see the countryside. When I was little and we’d drive to the sea, my grandmother would always show me the storks nesting on the tops of telephone poles, and this trip I was lucky enough to spot a nest! I wasn’t lucky enough to get a picture, though. We arrived in Varna not much the worse for wear, and my grandfather’s friend Reni’s son picked us up from the station.
We took a small rest at his villa—and met the very charming Dakota! Then off for a quick lunch before settling into the apartment we were staying in.
Day 2: Sightseeing in the city
The next day, we grabbed a traditional banitsa for breakfast before setting out to see the city. We went to one of the many churches, and I did manage to get some pics of the interior—albeit sneakily. I loved the vibe of this city. We walked up and down the main drag, which ends up at the entrance of the Sea Garden.
We spent most of the day wandering the city and taking pictures.
Afterward, we visited my grandmother’s cousin, Radka, at her office. She’s a cardiologist, and we had the fun experience of getting a cardiac exam and our EKGs. I’m healthy! The group of us stopped by the daily market to pick up some veggies for dinner.
In the meantime, my dad’s cousin Iva and her dad (my great uncle Baro) arrived in Varna. My great uncle stayed at the villa with Radka and her husband Choni, and the girls went out for a lovely late night dinner on the beach.
Day 3: Museum
We went to the Varna Archeological Museum and saw the oldest gold treasure in the world, dating from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC. The gold was discovered at the Varna Necropolis, a burial site. The museum also had incredible ancient Thracian and Greek ruins. It was so rewarding to be able to see the architectural marvels we had talked about in class now in person, in my home country!
When we left the museum, tired and footsore, it was raining. We walked to the Sea Garden, got our first real look at the Black Sea, and soaked up the scenery by taking pictures. We stopped by a small shop and picked up some “essentials” for dinner (feta cheese and something Google Translate tells me is called “flat sausage”), then headed back to the Sea Garden for some bumper boat fun.
We wrapped up the evening with a wonderful family dinner, catching up with cousins.
Day 4: Black Sea Beach Day!
The weather turned in our favor on the fourth day in Varna, and we were able to make it to the beach for a nice morning swim after a delicious breakfast of mekitsi. The beach we went to had a mineral hot spring right on the water. It didn’t look like much—just an old ugly pipe jutting out of the rock—but standing under the blast of hot water was heavenly after a dip in the cold sea.
After a late lunch of local fish, we packed up and headed back to the bus station for the return trip to Sofia, where we’d stay for one night before heading to Cyprus.