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Varna is the third-largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.
Varna, the one with the sunburn
This was one of my detours whilst solo travelling where I had the good fortune to meet up with my cousin. His schedule allowed him several days of leisure, so, making the most of it, we rented an apartment on Booking.com and headed for the beach. Flip flops at the ready and party mode engaged, we had an incredible time. Sharing shots of skinos with the barman in town, enjoying the flamboyant show of another creating a mint-based cocktail, getting lost in old buildings: laughing with strangers became the norm.
We decided to stick to a small food budget and opted for home-made meals and fresh fruit from the local shops. Prices were reasonable, and inexpensive in comparison to England. There were some amazing plates passing us as we frequented the bars however, so I dare say you would be mostly impressed with anything ordered.
Once on the beach, various bar themes created a wave of moods, with every beach bar seemingly offering a different vibe from the next. The tiki-style bars, such as Cubo or Menthol made amazing cocktails, their Hawaiian-esque straw parasols complementing the idyllic backdrop. Drinking an ice-cold beverage, fun songs playing loudly and jovial bartenders charming each punter – what’s not to love? A short walk further along the seafront brings suave, modern wine bars that offer an altogether different atmosphere. If you want a sophisticated outing, I suggest wearing attire other than beachwear as some of these establishments frowned upon the bikini-clad punters.
We had heard about a speak-easy bar, Kultura, that intrigued us, so, one evening, we traipsed around town with our terrible signal attempting to locate it. Just as we were about to give up, an imposing-looking gentleman asked us what we were looking for and nodded his head toward the dark apartment building next to him. As we cautiously stepped through the main door, the lift ahead appeared broken. He nudged us through its door with a smirk, and we stepped back in time. Descending the concealed staircase, lit by dim lights, we followed the subtle signs. Once in the basement, we were presented with concealed doors and nothing else. A moment later, a small hatch retracted on the nearest and the play began: password demanded, password given, we were granted entry in to the speak-easy, just like in the Prohibition era. Crystal glasses and leather seats combined with enthusiastic barmen created an incredible atmosphere that we were reluctant to leave.
If the party aspect is not something you crave, there are statues to see (including the famous "Dragon Lovers", green spaces (such as the Sea Garden) to discover and animals to watch (Varna Zoo, for example). With the Roman Baths a short distance from the beach, you can become the intrepid explorer before inspecting other finds in one of the many museums, too.
Snorkelling in the sea is a must; the abundance of sea creatures produces a rainbow of colour. The water also offers a sought after respite from the glaring sun, we were alternating each beach bar with a dip in the sea.
I know that I will return for a longer stay and explore the town itself rather than live on the beach for the entire duration. Perhaps I can update with a little more on that trip and provide a more insightful review.
The golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and ample beach bars, entice you to indulge in your summer fantasies. With something for all the family, this destination is a one-stop wonder. I'd recommend giving it a try, you may just find your new favourite destination!
Word of warning though: remember your sunscreen or rash vest, especially during a heat wave. I resembled a lobster by the end of the first day and I don’t usually burn.