The bus ride to Bulgaria was a pleasant experience. I had my own personal TV at my seat that had several movie channels on it I could watch during my long trip. One of the drivers even passed out free drinks and snacks periodically. I watched Prometheus, American Reunion, Rock of Ages, and Five-Year Engagement. All this combined with the gorgeous scenery of Bulgaria made the voyage more enjoyable than any plane ride I’ve been on.
I arrived in Sofia at about 10:00pm and had a hard time getting a ticket to Burgas, a coastal city I’d read about, because the only people working in the closed bus station didn’t speak any English. A kind woman who did translated for me and I got a ticket for the midnight bus to Burgas. I went out to the bus terminal and waited for two hours. Because it was another long travel day, I was very tired and accidentally fell asleep outside waiting. That’s when it happened. I kept my passport, wallet, and phone in a secret pocket in Gautama, but had my cash in my zipper-protected pocket in my pants. I had decided to withdraw a good amount of money in Sofia as I didn’t want to accrue multiple international withdrawal fees and I wasn’t sure if the tiny town of Burgas would give me much of a chance to do it again. Well…I woke up to my bus pulling up and all my money was gone. I had been pick-pocketed while I was sleeping. Awesome.
Remember my post about positivity? This was one of those times where it was extremely difficult to see the positive side of the situation. It was honestly a pretty dark moment for me. At least it was a painless robbery and I still had my phone, passport, and wallet. I decided that I wanted to have at least one fun day in “the cheapest country in Europe,” so after doing some math in my head, I got on the bus and decided to cope with the dilemma and keep going forward. Let’s see how it works out, right?
I arrived at Burgas on the Black Sea at 5am and decided to walk down to the beach and watch the sunrise. And boy, was it beautiful. It was a slightly rainy morning so I sat there until it picked up and stood under some nearby trees until it passed about 30 minutes later.
After cleaning up in a restroom, I went to the town center to eat breakfast while all the kids were walking to school. It was exploring time again. This city was much more run down than Thessaloniki. Like, depressingly so. Every other building was abandoned and vandalized. Every person was either poor or homeless. The cheapness was a result of the economy here. After getting tired of literally slumming it, I took a taxi to the seaside village of Kraimorie. It was much smaller and quieter and there was a hotel that let me stay at my own private beach shack for just $10 a night. Pretty sweet deal, I would say. It was beach time.
After a long walk, I showered and got a ride back to Burgas from a man named Kari for less money than a taxi, who stopped at a “Billa,” which was basically their Wal Mart. There, I got a 2 liter of 10 point beer for a dollar. Awesome.
Back in Burgas, I took a free shuttle to the mall for funsies and ended up watching 22 Jump Street. Pretty funny, plus a tub of popcorn was a dollar. This place had its upsides for sure.
After the movie, it was heavily storming outside, but it passed after a bit and I took the shuttle back to town and enjoyed the night life at the local pubs. I got back to Kraimorie pretty late and ended up sleeping until like 5pm the next day. Whoops. I shook it off and decided to assess the situation. I needed to find a computer. I saw a sign for “Tourist Information” and decided to ask them where I could find a library or an internet cafe. I looked all over town for a long time and couldn’t find it. I walked into a bar and asked the woman running it if she knew where I could find Tourist Information. She and the people around her laughed and told me in terrible English that it had been closed down for years. Yikes. But then she motioned for me to come inside and she let me use her laptop.
After some research regarding the robbery, I came to the conclusion that it was time to go home. At first, this was a disappointing revelation, but therein lied the positive side I was looking for. What did I have to be disappointed about? I reminded myself that my only goal for this trip was to get to the Isle of Skye and everything else was extra. I then considered myself extremely lucky and returned to the state of thinking that made me appreciate everything that was happening no matter what it was. I suddenly found myself getting excited about returning to the US and seeing my friends and family again. I missed them very much and really wanted to see them. I also couldn’t wait to have a conversation with someone in English, as I was starting to talk to myself on a regular basis. I caught the last bus to Kraimorie and slept in my totally rad beach shack and decided to get ready to leave the next day and just enjoy my last day in Bulgaria. And you know what? I did just that.
I woke up early the next day to get some more research done and buy my tickets. On the way to the bus stop, a man pulled up next me and waved me over. It took me a second, but I recognized the guy from two days earlier when I was looking for a place to stay. He had guest room in his house in Kraimorie, but it was full of Russians so he helped me find the place that was renting out shacks. His name was Valentine. He asked what I was up to and he offered to take me back to his place so I could use his computer. This just about made my day. I hopped in his car and he told me he was having family over because his grandfather had passed away three days earlier. He was still in good spirits and I couldn’t believe he was going so far out of his way to help a stranger on such a potentially sad day. He even made me some coffee.
So while I was buying tickets home, I met his whole extended family and his father, Demitri, was excited to practice his English and made me drink Bulgarian whiskey. The cheapest ticket home left on the 24th from Frankfurt, Germany. Ticket booked. Valentine then offered to take me to Burgas so I could get a bus ticket to Germany. I accepted and thanked him a thousand times for his hospitality. His response was, “Well what else could I do?” What a great guy.
Back in town, a woman from “Karats,” a Bulgarian bus system, who barely spoke any English at all, figured out what I wanted and got me a 1:30am ticket to Germany that left that night. Perfect. Her name was Valentina (no relation to Valentine…) and she was very nice and helpful. So now with everything in place, it was time to take in the rest of the day. I went back to Kraimorie and got my camera. I had been so stressed the past couple days, I didn’t really think about taking pictures or bloging, but now my mind was at ease. So here we go!
This is the walk from the bus stop at Kraimorie to the entrance to the hotel complex that booked my shack:
After getting my things together, I wanted to go the beach one last time while the sun was out. It was a nice short walk.
This was the place by the beach to buy super cheap beer:
Then it was chill time.
From here you could see the city of Burgas up the coast.
Feel free to make this your desktop wallpaper:
It looks pretty chill, but this photo consisted of me pressing the timer button then sprinting over to the rocks, sliding into “chill” position, sitting there for two seconds until I heard the click then checking to see if I got it.
And here’s the view of Kraimorie from the beach:
After a nice relaxing swim, I got Gautama and hung out in the village before going back to Burgas for the night.
I got to Burgas around nightfall so I tried to take some photos of this already shady-looking city and they ended up looking downright creepy.
That night I decided to eat at the fanciest place I could find in town. This is what I got.
All that together cost around five bucks. It was actually so gross I couldn’t eat a third of it. So I walked down the street to a hot dog stand and got a hot dog for 50 cents and it was way better. I talked to the guy running it about surfing around Europe and he gave me fries for free. Score.
Later that night, I was sitting at the bus stop getting constantly harassed by homeless people, taxi drivers, gypsies, and some random tourists. But eventually the bus came. Valentina from earlier actually showed up around 1:00 to make sure I got on the bus okay. What a strange part of my adventure.
The next place I went to was Frankfurt. I was supposed to stay there all night waiting for my flight so I was expecting it to be a long and agonizingly boring stop, but it turned out to be one of the most exciting nights on my entire trip. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post!