Varna Voyage

There was a lot going on last night but I choose to remain in the hotel and get some rest.  I could hear the call to pray signalling “Time to Eat” Like a dinner bell. There was music coming from the park and even after I retired, I could hear drums beating.  Yasar said something about the drums in the evening but I didn’t quite understand. I watched the Ken Burns documentary about Seabiscuit.  Amazing story of both the horse, his jockey, his trainer, and his career.

I woke early after a restless sleep.  I worry about missing my bus or catching my plane and I can’t sleep well.  I will get the “Screaming Meanie” Alarm when I return home.  I never worried about waking when I set that alarm.  The problem is it wakes the whole hotel. The hotel did give me a wake up call on the phone but I was already showered and ready to go.

  I got the Tram to my transfer point but had no idea where to pick up the Underground Metro until I asked a young man, Martuck, who was born in Istanbul and was returning home from visiting his parents.  He was going to the same place.  He had lived in the States and actually lived in Mesa , Arizona for a short time and was fascinated  by retirees that travel with there recreational vechicles. We had a nice talk. He was a recovering drug addict and doing well. My travel was to the “Enchanted Land that Few Return”is how he explained it.  It was a nice ride on the Subway system.  My first and last for now. We bid goodbye and after checking with information, I found my transit company and bus.

Even the Bus Station has a Mosque..only one Minaret though!

My Luxury Mercedes Coach

 I paid $60 for this trip and from what I could figure was $30 more than the regular bus.  It was worth it.  Nice A/C , bathroom , even a Movie screen like on the air planes, with multiple movie selections, games, TV Channels, and you could even plug in your own flash drive and watch movies, all  in the back of the seat in front of you.The arrival time was 6pm in the evening and I got up at 6am so will sleep a lot of the way.

We went through Customs and had my passport checked three different times and we all had to exit the bus while they boarded the bus and searched out handbags.  We stopped in Burgas, another Bulgarian resort city and  large shipping port on the Black Sea.  A few people got off and we continued the trip. I watched a movie “5 Minutes in Heaven ” with Liam Nieson. It was an IRA BBC movie all in Turkish with no subtitiles.

We have an attendant on this First Class bus that looks like Pee Wee Herman with a white shirt and bow tie.  He serves us cold water, NesCafe coffee, occasional snack then came around with this bottle that I though was a fruit drink.  I reached for it but he pulled back and motioned for me to put my hands out.  Then he sprinkled me and my bags with perfumed water to refresh myself.  Thanks.

We arrived in Varna, I got a Taxi for $6 to an ATM to get some Levs then to the hotel where they had no record of my reservation or booking with Hostel World network.  I paid in cash for two days and checked in but couldn’t get on the internet.

Sushi Supreme

I left to get some food at Happy Bar.  They had one in Plovdiv that I loved so wanted to try this out. It was the same great food, drink and prices.  I returned to the hotel impressed with Varna and the downtown area so close to the Black Sea beach that I decided to book 2 more days.  There was a new guy at the desk and he booked me for the additional days, then when I complained about my internet connection, he asked what operating system I had on the computer.  I said XP and he replied he had XP and was now having the same problems. XP came out a few years ago and was a great system but Microsoft replaced it with Vista then Seven.  Over the years providers went with the newer Operating Systems and now those of us with XP have a hard time connecting to there networks.  I ran up , got my computer and let him configure it. He had me on line in 5 minutes after I had spent an hour messing with it to no avail.  His name was Samerlier and he had ran a moving business in Baltimore and lived in Henderson Nevada for a while.  He was in his early 30’s spoke great English and got me on the internet! He also plays Texas Holdem.

I felt lucky after that and decided to visit the Casino and try my luck. When I arrived there was a Chinese man with his Hong Kong passport being admitted.  He had on a gambling jacket from Macao.  When I entered he was already laying bets down on the Roulette table.  I looked for poker but they had NONE.  I found one blackjack $10 minimum bet with 6 decks.  Impossible to win on.  My only bet would be to try my luck on the black/red or odd/even Roulette.  I was tired and decided to return when I could think clearly.

It is almost 2am now and I have to get tickets to Bucharest and a place to stay. I got a couple extra days to relax here now.  This place is a little more than I wanted to pay but comfortable and great location with amenities.

Room View

Bless Me Father for I’ve been having a good time!

Theater

Me Sleeping

I slept late and left around 11am for some fresh squeezed OJ next door then ended up at Costa Coffee for my morning or afternoon fix.  It was actually raining for the first time of my vacation.  I had one or two days of  drizzle and overcast but it was raining!  I left when it let up and decided to research my options on the computer now that I had three more days here.  I booked a hotel in Bucharest for two days. The rates were high and not much that I wanted to see in the city. My other alternatives was to visit the city Dracula or Valdemir the Impaler was from.  His name came from his passion for cutting off peoples heads and putting them on stakes around his castle.  Not much different than what the North Vietnamese did to our soldiers during the war…hey it was war.  Ask Lt Calley? Where was all that Napalm manufactured and the Agent Orange that killed one of my best friends way before his time. Enough, I booked a hostel in Belgrade for three days before my flight to Amsterdam.  I didn’t know what to do with the few days in between Bucharest and Belgrade?

It was late and I was hoping to visit some of the sights my first real day in Varna so left for the City Gallery but ended up at City Hall.  Time was running short so I went on to one of the museums but with only a half hour till closing they weren’t admitting anyone.  I continued on to St Mary’s , a World Heritage Church with Icons painted onto the entire interior.  I walked in during a Mass and noted the sign that said 6 Lev for Photo or Video. A Priest was standing in front monitoring the people coming in.  I asked if I paid 6 Lev could I take photos.  He said yes and I could make a donation of whatever I wanted right there or pay the 6 Lev at the cashier’s desk.   I donated 10 Lev and he took a tree branch and dunked it in Holy Water.  I thought he was going to spank me with it but instead he hit me on the head and blessed me.  Everyone else got a little paint brush dipped in Holy Water then tapped on their forehead.  It must have been the donation bought me a special blessing.  He did ask where I was from and when I told him he seemed to know but never said anything other than yes…Arizona. The church was beautiful .  I almost converted back with all that blessing and the Mass and the art!  It was truly inspiring…and I’m not just saying that.  I’ve been in a lot of Cathedrals, Mosques and Churches and I think they are all better suited to be galleries or concert halls but this one was exceptional.

I crossed the street and went to tourist information to find the best way to get to Bucharest?  The bus.  I had to leave at 6am…totally against my “travel” religion or take a normal bus to the border at Ruse. Then I would have to book another bus from there to Bucharest.  I could do that at 10:30…make the border at around 1:30 and if lucky,  catch the bus to my destination at almost the same time as my arrival.  Now I have a game plan.

I browsed an outdoor photo exhibit of Bulgaria’s heritage sites and decided if I returned I would have to rent a car to do this proper.  I found a Happy Bar and ordered my Sushi and Wine then reordered some more.  The more never came.  I stopped three waitresses and all said OK but none brought the rest of my food. I finally just asked for the bill then miraculously my food arrived like it was just thrown together at the last minute.  I remembered…it is Allah and smiled and thanked them , ate my food, paid the bill but never left a tip…Allah’s will.

I decided to return to the Casino with the intentions of just played Red or Black on the Roulette table .  I took 200 Lev from the ATM, got my membership card, entered the casino and placed 100 Lev on Red as a bet at a crowded table.  The Croupier took the money as a request for chips and set it aside, spun the wheel and dropped the pithe ball before I could say NO that was a bet.  Thank God , Black came up!  She then gave me 100 Lev in chips and I ran them up right away but before I could cash them I started losing and chasing my losses until they were gone.  OK.  I still had another 100 Lev so decided to try the blackjack table where the stakes were 5 Lev minimum bet vs 10 the night before.  Still a 6 deck draw but I decided to give it a try.  I won back my 100 Lev and got a few free beers, met some nice people and cashed out to go back to the now Empty Roulette table and put 100 Lev on Red again.  This time I won then took my three hundred Lev to the cashier and walked out with 100 Lev profit that paid for my hotel , meals, and all my spending for the day. Not bad considering I just lost 10% of my life savings on the stock market in just the last three days.  Allah’s Will again.

I’m listening to Sky .FM …this is the best and free…I copied the last few songs so when I return I can buy or search for them.  I’ll share them with you:
Denean – Song for Israfel,
Thierry David – Sigh of The Goddess,
Llewellyn & Juliana – Swimming With Dolphins Part.II,
Juliana – The Calling
…better yet go to http://www.Sky.fm  and tune into the vocal world music station.  It really is incredible.

They had a problem with stray dogs so now test them for rabies, neuter them then tag them on their ear so when you see a tagged dog you can pet and feed them and know they are friendly.  Most have homes around hotels or restaurants where people accept them…or out on the streets.  You very seldom see a dog on a leash and most run in packs but aren’t a problem now.  This is where ever I visited in the Balkans. Goodnight!

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