“Travels to a Different Time” : 27/28 July 1973: Sofia, Plodiv, Slanchev Bryag Bulgaria: Bulgarians in Track Suits: Bulgarian Black Sea Coast a Dud!

Up early and after a meagre breakfast and took a tram as far as I could towards the main highway but I still had a 3 km walk to make it there. Why is everyone staring at me? Have I forgot to zip up my fly? Perhaps I should join the local circus as a freak in a side show? Luckily I got a lift from an Hungarian to the outskirts of Plodiv where I found a camping ground. I set up my tent easily. There are many Bulgarian families here and almost all the men are wearing track suits. Are they all gym teachers? Being exhausted from all the walking I walked into a nearby town and had a big meal for 95 cents. Bulgaria is very cheap. I managed to find some New Zealanders to talk to. Western tourists are rare sights here.

28July1973: Up early to get to my Black Sea destination. No destination in mind just get me to the Black Sea. First ride with a Bulgarian in an old Renault that had a top speed of 30 kms an hour. The next lift was a van full of workers who found my long hair hilarious in a respectful way. The next ride was in the sidecar of a motorcycle with me holding on to my knapsack for dear life. I was only a bit terrified. I have never seen a motorcycle with a sidecar except in WW 2 movies and the Germans riding them usually get shot and crash! I arrived at the town of Stara Zarogoa and changed some money. I picked up bits here and there for a lunch and had lunch sitting in a beautiful park. I had to walk out of the town and after a WC break behind a tree was on the road with my thumb out. Picked up by a young maniac driver. We stopped at his friend’s house and had a nice lunch. That was very nice of them. They had many questions about the West and no they don’t hate rather they admire it thinking everyone there is rich. Reluctant communists. We continued our journey and I am lucky to be alive as we missed three collisions No joke. They let me off at a campground in Slanchev Bryag. I set up my tent being watched by the track suited crowd. I went for a swim in the Black Sea. The sand was like cement, the water cold and full of jellyfish. I had a freezing cold shower on the beach went home and had cucumbers, bread and Russian canned sprats for dinner then off to bed. Well my objective of seeing the Bulgarian Black Sea has been obtained and it is a dismal place at least the beach was. The town of Slanchev Bryag is quaint but the beach pathetic in comparison to those in Yugoslavia. More important than a beach are the people I have encountered. They may be Communists but are friendly and very curious. They have never seen a man with long hair. I spent a couple of days here but I just can’t warm up to the beach and ocean It is as about as depressing as Bulgarian communism. I do like Slanchev Bryag and it has potential for a tourist destination for people who have no idea of the superiority of Yugoslav and Greek beaches.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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