Bohemian Rhapsody

Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
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Trip End Aug 07, 2011


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Where I stayed
Bohemia

Flag of Bulgaria  , Dobrich,
Monday, August 1, 2011

The Black Sea ... I've been here four days but aside from Nesebar, I'm just not really feeling it.  Even the hostel I'm staying at - the owner is super cool and helpful, and overall it has a nice vibe to it, but I'm just not digging the cramped dorms which make for hot nights, and the tiny bathroom/shower combos where the shower head is literally right over top the toilet.  Even I'm finding it difficult to take a shower without banging something into the wall, making me wonder how one of the other hostel guests does it, him being 6'-6" and probably 230 lbs. 

Yesterday, I had scoped out a smaller, quieter hostel - nothing fancy, but looks to be a better choice with roomier dorms and rather luxuriously, both A/C and no bunk beds.  After checking things out in person, I had told them I would be back in the morning, but ... I needed an escape from Varna.  Originally I had planned on going to Albena as a day trip, another of the Black Sea''s beach resort towns, but had read that it was another overdeveloped monstrosity, which made it easy to choose Balchik instead.  But a day trip wouldn't be enough ... I realized I needed to escape Varna for the night, and hopped on a northbound bus with my pack strapped to my shoulders.

Couldn't find any decent-looking accommodations on the internet, so I ended up showing up with guidebook in hand hoping to check out a few accommodations that sounded promising.  The hot Bulgarian sun has been taking a toll, so a splurge was in order - there would be no hostels tonight, it would be a hotel, and a decent one, at that!  Some of the listings even offered swimming pools ... but having been published in 2008, some of the places had shut down or had been demolished.

The TI is usually a great resource for booking accommodations, but it was nowhere to be found, so I ended up wandering around and stumbling on a backpacker-style guesthouse called Bohemia - nothing fancy, offering very basic accommodations, but compared to the cramped quarters at Yo Ho Hostel in Varna, having a large double bed and private bathroom was absolutely luxurious.  The perfect Bohemian escape from the tackiness of the Black Sea!

Balchik is a cute little fishing village that grew around its port, with some newer hotels that have sprouted up on the waterfront near a few beaches that while busy, are far from overcrowded.  Nestled at the base of some verdant hills that eventually give way to some awe-inspiring white cliffs, it's just the escape needed from the horrors of the rest of the Black Sea.  While it's clear that Balchik is still a very popular tourist destination, it's also obvious that it isn't excessively so, retaining enough charm to make it a worthwhile destination and in hindsight, a preferable choice to the overdeveloped regions of the Black Sea.  Normally I love the beach, but wasn't really digging what was on offer in Varna - it was a great place for a stroll or a stop at a cafe, but the idea of lying on that beach wasn't appealing, especially after meeting some fellow travelers who complained about sand fleas in Varna.  Sunny Beach wasn't much better and even Nesebar, for all its positives, didn't have appealing beaches.  

But Balchik ... with its location and uncrowded stretches of sand, was calling to me.  The water looked so inviting, so much more refreshing and prettier than what you saw elsewhere on the Black Sea.  Given what I had seen near the other resorts, I was surprised to find a stretch of the Black Sea that looked this pristine, that looked more like something on Mediterranean, which was a bit counter-intuitive, since an industrial port was just a short walk away from the beach.  A few hours on the beach, a stroll along the waterfront to the incredible Summer Palace of Queen Marie and the adjoining Botanical Gardens, followed by a nice meal overlooking the sea ... Balchik is all that Sunny Beach and Varna wasn't - a perfect spot to spend a night on the Black Sea.   
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