Late April with long awaited sunny days. The mornings are particularly gorgeous. Crisp air with sharp light, vivid green starting to dress up the city with a sense of calmness.
No, no, no. I’m totally wrong, here comes the chaos. Morning traffic, angry faces, dark circles around hurried people’s eyes, honking, pedestrians going around the mud. Ah, they are digging up again. In the middle of the street. I find a sense of lyricism in these layers of Bucharest that are starting to show up. Let’s see: improvised mini markets behind cars with fresh fruit from gardens and steam in the air. Yes, that sounds very much like it. Like the crazy mix of the beautifully repainted theater and the mess and mud in the intersection, with the smoker woman inviting me for strawberries grown in her greenhouse and the supervised workers looking at my ass while i am crossing the street. The swearing words of the taxi driver rushing almost on my steps on the zebra and the journalist in smart clothes bumping into an old lady walking her blind dog. All of this. You have to feel it, I can only offer a glimpse.
Bucharest. I live here. I love it.
It’s not often that you get to experience the silence of winter on your own. It’s the combination of frosty air with sunny crisp shines that somehow transform the landscape into something quite magical. Well, since I have had the privilege of experiencing such delights, it seemed a pity not to share a glimpse of that with you. Here are some of my moments captured while on the road through Transylvania.
As a kid traveling around Romania with my family, I would make my own stories from the reality I would experience. It so happened after crossing the Carpathians into the hilly Transylvania.
I have this particular strong mental image stuck with me since childhood probably influenced by ‘The Land Before Time’ cartoon. I would imagine a fantastically flourishing world of… dinosaurs wandering around.
This plateau in Transylvania, Romania, is one of the triggers of that vivid memory. Always. I come by and I instantly get transported to that childish reverie. Ah, I can still see the long necked brontosaurus walking heavily in between these hills secured by the chain of mountains. This is where dinos ran around freely in my imagination.
And because life makes some sense sometimes, I ran into these sweet kids later today. Guess what? They were colouring dinos.
Varna is the maritime capital of Bulgaria conveniently located by the Black Sea (Cherno More) and it is home to many old stylish buildings with ornaments, churches, small paved roads and cute communist style apartment blocks. Chic, old, modern, vibrant night life, thus an exhilarating mix for the taste of new comers. This incursion into the Balkans should be welcomed with a cultural WOW, so here, meet Azis. 🙂
I’ve travelled only twice for a couple of days, but that was enough for me to want to recommend it to you. Here’s some good reasons to go there for a weekend with friends or foes:
1. You can keep it really cheap. Prices for a weekend’s stay over in Varna or around are very accessible. The Golden Sands resort is just outside of the city with loads of all-inclusive hotels*. It’s well known and very popular, not that much special, though. I prefer the city for exploring and blending with its people. My recommendation for inside the city accommodation is mOdus hotel for a chic ambient close to city center.
2. Great culinary experience. Getting hungry? I’ve got you covered. Di Wine Restaurant and cellar is the best restaurant in Varna (and probably Bulgaria) to spoil yourself. While you’re here, ask the waiter for recommendations of Bulgarian wines, you will not be disappointed, they have a wide variety. The service is great, food is exquisite and wines are to die for. Also, cheese fans should definitely try the green cheese they make only here in Bulgaria. If only for this charming restaurant and you should definitely come to visit Varna.
3. Cocktail time with a panorama. The perfect view over night-time Varna can be offered at the sky bar with live piano performances on the top floor of Cherno More Hotel in the city center, which looks a bit like the Intercontinental in mid Bucharest, but it has more blue and pink lights inside the bar. Be prepared to cross the portal to at least a couple of decades back in time while you are here. Have a drink and move on to the shore before the Russians start singing out loud some 90’s hits.
4. Vivid night life. I’m not much of a party person, but Varna brings me up from the dead with its Balkanic style of music, crazy drum plays and happy vibes on the beach clubs. If you’re into electronic/dance music, just walk around the beach line and be all ears and eyes. The music will lure you in the right spot, I assure you. That or some of the pretty girls. If you’re into Balkanic pop and dance, try Chas Pik (4as Pik). There’s no entrance fee, the DJs have a warm up session long enough to keep the tension rising until the music comes out with a blast. Before you know it, you’re hooked.
5. Enjoy the kitsch culture. I know deep down you’re a bon vivant with perfectly organised breakfast on Instagram, but try to loosen up and marvel at the colourful chaotic experience laid in front of you. Welcome to the Balkans, the contrasts will get you excited.
6. Tanning, swimming, beach time. Golden sands or Zlatni piasaci keeps its name for a good reason, the beaches are clean and sparkle under the summer sun. You have a choice of umbrellas and chaise-longues for the shade lovers and the water is bluer than you might expect. You can either hang out here or try Varna’s beach for a more retro feel. An interesting Caribbean lost ship seems to have found a place on the beach of Varna and offers fresh fish and other dishes. If you’re feeling lucky, you might want to try it.
* Yes, that means families with kids on a week-long sejour and more “No’s!” per square meter than you’ve ever been exposed to in your entire lifetime, teenagers from all over Europe going bananas, whales not dressed for the occasion and crazy drinking on the beach clubs in mid day. But super cheap otherwise.