Black Sea/Mediterranean 2007:
Day 4 - Varna, Bulgaria


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Black Sea/Mediterranean 2007: [Day 1 - Athens] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - Istanbul] [Day 4 - Varna] [Day 5 - Odessa] [Day 6 - Sevastopol] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Kusadasi] [Day 9 - Rhodes] [Day 10 - Limassol] [Day 11 - Cairo] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Athens]

Saturday, May 5: We arrived in sunny Bulgaria to find ourselves surrounded by containers.
The occasional jellyfish we had spotted alongside the ship in the Dardenelles and the Bosphorus Straight turned into swarms of them in Bulgaria. We later read that the Black Sea's jellyfish population has exploded since the 1980s and we believe it.
We had a morning tour scheduled and our first stop was the ruins of Roman thermal baths, located in the middle of an upscale neighborhood.
Many artifacts on the site are extremely well preserved.
Our tour guide, Hristina, gave us the history of the ruins before allowing us free time to explore.
Water for the baths ran along this sunken pathway.
Several times on our travels, we found snails in very dry conditions such as these. They were colorful but they're still snails, and snails are gross.
This underground room contained hundreds of terra cotta pipes used to heat water for the caldarium (hot bath).
There were arches (or the remains of arches) throughout the ruins.
If you have a caldarium (hot bath) and a frigidarium (cold bath), you've got to have a tepidarium (lukewarm bath) for those who don't like it too hot or too cold. We love the word "tepidarium" but are finding it difficult to use in everyday speech.
This area was almost completely intact. This is where the toilets were.
This bust is of the man who discovered this site, Karel Schkorpil. He was the founder of archeological studies in Bulgaria.
After visiting the baths, we drove through "this Bulgarian town of Varna" (our tour guide's favorite phrase). It's a pretty town, with lots of parks and grand old buildings.
We drove past the Cathedral of the Assumption, which we would come back to visit shortly.
We got a nice panoramic view of the city ...
... and Lake Varna ...
... and the shipyards.
We don't recall what this monument was, but this symbol is called the Tri-Bar Orthodox Cross.
We returned to the Cathedral of the Assumption (also called the Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral). It's beautiful on the outside with gold domes on top.
It's beautiful inside but rather dark, since not much natural light gets in, so the chandelier helps out.
The domes are intricately painted ...
... as are the walls.
Three priests came out to give a brief a capella concert for us.
Outside the cathedral, we browsed the souvenir stalls and admired the flower market in the park behind it. However, we only photographed this Coca-Cola sign on top of a lovely building across the street.
We also took this opportunity to stock up on some bottles of Coca-Cola Light to bring back to the ship with us.
Speaking of the ship, our tour was over after three hours, so we came back to freshen up and then head back out on foot. Our cabin was the fourth balcony from the right on the deck right above the ship's name.
We headed to the park along the sea. We stumbled across the Naval Museum adjacent to the Sea Garden, the park along the Varna shoreline.
There were many military wonders on display ...
... including this helicopter ...
... and this groovy motorcycle with sidecar.
Another visitor took this opportunity to photograph his adorable daughter with an anchor three times her size.
In the park, we happened upon this strange site. At first, we thought it was an old-fashioned penguin or monkey exhibit that had long since been emptied. On closer inspection, we found that it was a topographical model of the Black Sea, just the right size for playing on, as shown here by these Bulgarian tots.
This little indentation represents the Bosphorus Straight, Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles. Makes you wonder why it took us nearly a day to get through it.
From the park, we made our way into the city. By the time we thought to photograph it, we were several blocks in, so our photos will work backward. Immediately, we found a currency exchange. Foreign cities are so much more fun when you have a pocketful of local money! Here's the street where Tom snagged a couple pairs of cheap sunglasses.
Here's the popcorn stand where Tom got two flavors of popcorn for almost no money at all.
Here's the place where we ate ice cream. Note the McDonald's in the background, where we did not eat.
This is a pedestrian-only street that leads from the park. On a sunny day, it's one of the most perfect places you can be.
The street meets the park at this beautiful square surrounded by columns. We loaded up on a few more cans of Bulgarian Coca-Cola Light, which thrilled Tom, who was in charge of carrying the backpack.
The walk through the park is gorgeous, especially with the spring blooms.
Exhibit A: Lavender blooms. Could this be the same tree as the one we saw at Corinth?
Exhibit B: Pink blooms. Spring rocks!
From the park, we headed to the beach. Construction was underway in preparation for the busy summer season.
Older now but still inclined to stand triumphantly in front of the world's oceans -- ladies and gentlemen, here's Debbie Schilling with the Black Sea!
By now, it was mid-afternoon, and popcorn and ice cream cannot take the place of a real meal, so we dropped into ship-shaped restaurant Mr. Baba's for lunch.

We started with an order of Zagorka and Staro Brno beer, because we do love sampling the local brews.

Then we went on to stuff our bellies with bread, dips, and calamari.
While we dined, one wedding party was leaving while a second was arriving. From our vantage point on the deck of the ship/restaurant, we could see the reception going on down below through skylights, but we're much too polite to photograph their private party, so we snuck a shot of the departing couple on the beach below instead.
We also had a fantastic view of Varna Bay and the Bulgarian coastline.
Reluctantly, we headed back to the ship, walking along the concrete sea wall.
On the road below, women were selling handmade lace and souvenirs. We spent what little was left of our Bulgarian lev (money) on candy bars in the passenger terminal.
Back on the ship, Tom surveyed the ocean from our balcony. Debbie joined him and yelled "Maersk!" as she spotted Maersk Antwerp on the horizon. It was like he wasn't even trying anymore.
As the Rotterdam pulled away from the dock, people watched and waved from the terminal and dockside.
We got one last shot of the city as the ship turned around in place.

We had dinner and returned to a towel monkey in our room.

Day 5 >


Black Sea/Mediterranean 2007: [Day 1 - Athens] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - Istanbul] [Day 4 - Varna] [Day 5 - Odessa] [Day 6 - Sevastopol] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Kusadasi] [Day 9 - Rhodes] [Day 10 - Limassol] [Day 11 - Cairo] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Athens]

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