A year or so ago, while still in pre-service training in Boychinovtsi, I taught my first English lessons. One of the first lessons I taught was about the differences and similarities between city life and country life. At the time, I asked the kids to name their favorite place in Bulgaria and to name the one place around the world they would visit if they had a chance. Surprisingly, all but a couple kids named Варна (Varna) as their favorite place in Bulgaria. Even more surprisingly, all but three kids said they would prefer to visit Varna over any other place in the world.
I finally made my way there and Varna wouldn’t rank as my favorite place in Bulgaria, let alone the one place in the world I’d visit if I had the opportunity. I suspect Varna is pretty fun at the height of summer, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about a place whose main drawing cards are a pedestrian walkway lined with overpriced shops and a beach littered with cigarette butts and clumps of seaweed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pleasant place. And the skimpily clad prima donnas prancing from shop to shop and the ubiquitous gelato stands are more than enough to warrant a return trip. But for my money, Bourgas is an equally if not more enjoyable place to visit.
From above and from afar, Varna looks very much like any other Bulgarian city of size ....
The difference, of course, is the city's location on the Black Sea.
No question, Varna's beach blows away Bourgas' beach.
And people take advantage of it.
But perhaps I'm too jaded when it comes to beaches ... because icy cold water and lots of seaweed and cigarette butts just don't do it for me.
The beach bars do provide shelter from the rain.
And the ever-present and demanding Yellow-legged Gulls.