June 2009 - Turkey, Bulgaria

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Nessebar | Stara Mitopolia Basilica

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Nessebar | Old Town

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Sveti Vlas | Dinevi Marina

June 30, 2009

Hi Just noticed I hadn't written in over a week. After leaving Sozopol we stayed two days in Sveti Vlas, Dinevi Marina. This was a nice new marina about 4 nm north of Nessebar. We couldn't find a good place to stay in Nessebar so we moved on. Dinevi Marina is a huge complex built by two brothers. As a matter of fact I think the whole town was built by them in the past 4 years. It was a bit pricey at 38 Euro but we weathered a big storm with hail very comfortably. Al and I took the bus to Nessebar to visit the Old Town. It was once a lovely Old City over 3000 years old with beautiful Ottoman style housing but now the cobbled streets and the lower levels of the buildings are crowded with souvenir shops and restaurants. This coast has miles of beautiful sandy beaches and lots of vacationers to fill them.

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna |Varna Opera and Theater

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna | Clock Tower

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna |Cathedral of the Assumption

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna | Varna Harbor Entrance

On Wednesday we headed north to Varna a large commercial port with two small yacht harbors. The first night we stayed in Varna Marina (40Euro)but the next day we went to talk to Mr. Valentine at the Varna Yacht Club Harbor. The club is very small but Anton helped us get in. We stayed here for five days (10 Euro with electricity/water)a day. Varna has a beautiful cathedral, Cathedral of the Assumption and pedestrian walk by the Opera House and Clock Tower. Near the Cathedral we found a wonderful daily market and a big flower market. We got lovely baskets of flowers for Gemini and ourselves for 3 and 4 leva each.

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna |Naval Museuk

Bulgaria |Black Sea| Varna |The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths site is quite extensive and worth a quick look. Varna also has miles of beautiful beaches. To the right of the port we explored an 8km park on the cliffs behind the beaches. Within the wooded park we found many walking/biking trails, lots of flowers, birds, moms pushing strollers, families enjoying, small zoo, planetarium, Navel museum, sports center, Al and I walked steady for over an hour before we headed back and we never got to the end of the park. When we got closer we went down to the beach and walked in the water back. Al commented that many of the women seemed quite frugal as they only wore the bottom half of their swimsuits:-)

Today we left Varna Yacht Club and are now in Balchik Marina our last port in Bulgaria. Nice marina with new pontoons and electricity. It's mighty hot today so we put our sun covers on right away. We'll wait until it cools down to walk around. We have good internet on the boat so keep eyes/ears open on Skype. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Sozopol | Sozopol Marina

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Sozopol| Sozopol beach

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Sozopol| Restaurant on beach

June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to our Dad's and Dad friends. Al put a coat of varnish on the rail yesterday. He's not too happy with our Kemer work that was suppose to be fine until fall. But the coat he put on spruced it up again. Today we walked around Sozopol enjoying Old Town and the beautiful beaches. Lots of people taking advantage of the rolling surf and hot day. We had a nice lunch with Ron and Susan on a terrace overlooking the beach. Tomorrow we plan to move on to Nessebar about 15 km from here. We've decided we may as well take the boat to all of these lovely port towns. Hope everyone had a nice weekend and a Happy Father's day. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

June 19, 2009

Hi again So much for a lazy day. Al spent the morning running a wire for a 220 outlet. This allows us to use 220 (European power) appliances in our galley. Now I can just turn on the hot pot for coffee in the morning when in port. Then in the afternoon we changed oil on the main engine and transmission. Along with trying to help Al I began organizing our 2009 cruising pictures for the website. I have the folders ready to upload from Kemer to the Bosphorus so I'm getting close to being caught up. Now if I can figure out how to find the "host site". Computers still baffle me. I know what I know and that's about it...I guess I need to call son Patrick about it.

We had cocktails with Ron and Sue. Sue spent the day baking a delicious chocolate cake. She spoils us with bake goods. Last time it was a peach cobbler and on the inland trip she brought boat-made chocolate chip cookies. We plan to explore Sozopol over the weekend and move on up the Bulgarian coast on Monday. Happy weekend, happy summer. Drop us a note when you have time. We do have good Skype for the weekend so I'll leave it on. Maybe we can connect. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Bulgaria |Black Sea |Rila Mountains | Rila Monastery

Bulgaria |Black Sea |Rila Mountains | Rila Monastery

Bulgaria |Black Sea |Rila Mountains | Rila Monastery

Bulgaria |Black Sea |Rila Mountains | Rila Monastery

June 16-18 2009

I forgot to write a log for Rila Monastary and Plodiv our last two nights on the road. So I'll try to write one now. On June 16 we had a long windy road up the mountain to the beautiful Rila Monastary where we had rooms for the night. As you can imagine they were quite sparse and we had twin cot type beds. The monastary was absolutely gorgeous in a beautiful mountain setting.

We decided to go to dinner at a restaurant outside the gates and we were told to ring the bell to get back in. We had a nice dinner along the Riliska river and a lovely walk back to the monastery. We rang and rang the bell but no one answered. Finally we followed the walls around to the front gate where we originally entered and someone let us in. Whrew Lovely night but I didn't want to sleep outside!

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv|Restaurant with Folk Music and Dancers

Bulgaria |Black Sea |Plodiv|Restaurant with Folk Music and Dancers

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv|Restaurant with Folk Music and Dancers

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv|Restaurant with Folk Music and Dancers

June 17, Today we drove back down out of the Rila mountains on beautiful winding roads. The views were amazing. We arrived in Plodiv for the night. Plodiv was an old Bulgarian capital. We toured the town and on the recommendation of our hotel we went to a Restaurant that had Folk dancers and musicians. We arrived early so we had a prime spot in the dining room. Great Fun and food. The Belly Dancer came close for Al and Ron. I was invited up to learn a folk dance with others.

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv|Ethnographic Musem

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Plodiv | Church of St. Constantine and Helena

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv | Old Town

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Plodiv | Plodiv Roman theater

June 18 We took time to tour Plodiv this morning. We visied Plodiv Roman Theater and Ethnographic Museum. We had a long drive back to Artemis in Sozopol. Nice driving through the beautiful farm land.

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Arbansi |

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Arbanasi | Church of the Nativity

June 13-14, 2009

Hi again Saturday June 13 No free breakfast today. Al found us some cheese pastries and the reception gave us coffee. We drove around Veliko Tarnovo to see some monuments before heading 4km to the ancient historical village of Arbanasi. Church of the Nativity was our first stop. It was shaped like a barn, which we learned later, was so it would blend in and not stand out as a church. Every inch of wall space on the inside was covered in ornate fresco walls and ceilings. We met a Bulgarian tour guide there who was very informative and then came with us to Konstantsaliva House museum. Guides are sure nice to have especially speaking English. We had lunch at a recommended restaurant. The food was okay but pricey.

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Troyan| Toyanski Monastery | wedding about to begin

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Troyan| Toyanski Monastery | wedding about to begin

Bulgaria| Black Sea| Oreshak | National Fair Exhibition of Arts and Crafts

Next we drove to Troyan and Oreshak. In Oreshak we visited the National Fair Exhibition of Arts and Crafts Complex. It had 8 buildings of displays one of which sold souvenirs. Last stop for the day was Troyanski Monastary. We happened upon a wedding so added that experience to our Bulgaria visit. The bride's dress was quite unexpected. It was white, long, but looked like a corset on top. One of the guest's had on a black bikini with a revealing silk over dress with slits and bear spots galore. The priest chanted the wedding and the guests milled about lighting candles and snapping pictures. Some of the woman carried colorful plates of what appeared to be breads and cookies. Orshek Hotel was nice and had a good restaurant attached so we were happy.

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Koprivshtitsa |

Bulgaria |Black Sea | Koprivshtitsa |

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Koprivshtitsa |

Bulgaria | Koprivshtitsa | Gorgeous vistas on moutain road to Koprivshtitsa

Sunday June 14 We decided to take a different route to Sofia today so we could visit Koprivshtitsa a museum village. Our road took us over a forested mountain pass through a National Park. Gorgeous vistas so we were constantly looking for a place to pull over. The road at times was no more than a "cowpath" , many many switchbacks, rock slides and crazy Bulgarian drivers on the wrong side of the road. But we were glad we took the detour to Koprivshtitsa a museum village nestled in wooded hills. It was the site of the April 20, 1876 uprising against the Turks. There were 6 house museums of Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Each was surrounded by large stone walls, and had large wooden gates. Most had beautiful gardens and colorful exteriors with overhangs. Each was furnished and had English descriptions of who lived there and what each room was used for. The ceilings were very cool. usually ornately carved or had wooden mosaics. The streets were cobbled and little bridges over the stream running through the village. We had lunch at the Old Pear Tavern before heading out for Sofia.

Bulgaria|Black Sea | Sophia| St. Nikolas Russian Church

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Sophia | Cathedra St. Alexandar Nevski

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Sophia

Our hotel Gorublyansko hanche was about 10km out of Sophia city center so we didn't visit until the next day June 15. No air conditioning so it was a good thing it wasn't hot. It was decorated in a Chinese motif very strange for Bulgaria I think. We had an okay meal at the hotel

Bulgaria|Black Sea |

June 11-12, 2009

Hi everyone, We are having a fantastic time in Bulgaria. It's a beautiful country and the people are wonderful. We left Sozopol on the Black Sea coast for a 7 day 6 night adventure around Bulgaria on Tuesday June 11. Our first day was mainly a travel day through fertile valleys with towns nestled below forested mountains. Huge grain fields, sunflowers and many large vineyards. Bulgaria has 5 wine producing regions and is one of the world's oldest wine producing areas in the Balkans. We stopped in Sliven for lunch and found a nice produce market to explore. We spent the first night in Kazanlak at Hotel Zornica. Great location just above the Thracian Dome Vault and great views . Kazanlak is called the "Rose Valley" and have a Rose Festival in early June. Rose growing has been a part of the local population's way of life for generations.

Bulgaria| Bulgaria|Black Sea|Gabrovo | Etar Ethnographic Village Museum Kzanlak|Museum of Roses

Bulgaria| Black Sea| Shipka | Church of St. Nikolai

Friday June 12 We visited the Museum of Roses depicting 300 year old methods of cultivating roses, a research center and saw many plantations of roses. The vineyards in this area had beautiful rose bushes/trees marking the end of each row of vines. We drove through the village of Shipka visiting the Nativity Memorial Church. Long before arriving in Shipka we could see the 5 onion shaped golden domes ot the Church of St. Nikolai. glittering amidst the woods above the village against the mountain. Leaving the monastary we drove up 1300m on a winding road amongst the deciduous trees into the clouds so we missed the beautiful views of the Rose Valley.

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Gabrovo | Etar Ethnographic Village Museum

Bulgaria | Black Sea |Gabrovo | Etar Ethnographic Village Museum

Next we visited Etar Ethnographic Village Museum near Gabrovo. This village of 50 slate roofed shops and workshops are powered by the stream that runs along the cobbled streets. Bakery, cartwright, cobblers, furriers, glass workers, hatters, jewelers, leather workers, millers, potters and weavers.mementos of old Bulgaria. We stopped at another market in Gabrovo for lunch and then headed for Dryanovo Monastery. The setting was the monestery in a valley along a gorgeous stream surrounded by high granite cliffs. St. Archangel Michael church was at it's center.

We drove on to Veliko Tarnovo the medieval capital of Bulgarian Tsars. This town is set in amphitheatre of forested hills divided by Yantha River ribboning around the town. We had a great location for our hotel. Our balcony had stunning views that over looked the river and the Tsarevets Fortress. It was only a 10 minute walk to the fortress museum reserve. We spent a couple of hours walking around the museum and enjoying the fantastic views.

It was a short walk to the Lonely Planets restaurant pick. Shtastlivetsa. (means Lucky Man) We had a great meal, two bottles of wine and only spent 40 leva a couple (about 20 Euro or $30) When we got back to our room we were treated to a Light and Sound over the Tsarevets Fortress from our hotel balcony. What a fantastic surprise and end to a wonderful day. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

June 10, 2009

We have Artemis all settled in at Sozopol and plan to leave her for a week to take a road trip around Bulgaria. We went to Tourist Information and she helped us choose the places we wanted to visit. She set us up with a travel agent and translated for us. We have our car for Tuesday and will be gone for 8 days.