Half-stop: Sozopol, Bulgaria

It’s sort of ironic to be here. I’ve been whining about how I am not going to Sozopol because of all the visas for the whole summer. I’ve even morally prepared myself that I was staying. Then some interesting work showed up, and I didn’t feel that sad anymore. But the destiny must have had other plans, and it must’ve counted in my love for Bulgaria.

We have an apartment in Sozopol, a tiny ancient city on the coast of the Black sea. We try to go there every year – not as a tradition, but just because. You should see it. These noises – from the huge old trees in front of our balcony, from the sea waves rocking in the distance, seagulls wailing, footsteps of the people down on the street, and pieces of conversations in different languages brought by the wind. Mostly you can hear Bulgarian – Sozopol is a favorite vacation place for Bulgarian families. Russian, of course, but not this type of touristy Russian that really makes you want to take a bazooka and… Well, you get the idea. There aren’t many Russians around – mostly those who also own real estate in the area and hereby have some idea of local culture, traditions and language. Bulgarian is a lot like Russian – same Slavic roots – but a bit more difficult to figure out for a Russian than, say, Ukrainian. Many words are same, but some can make a Russian laugh real hard. Like “luty chushka” for “chorny peretz” (black pepper) – for me, if I try to interpret it in Russian, it sounds like “super angry dirty guy”. Also, “chushka” stands for a piece of metal/concrete in Russian. But I really like the flow of Bulgarian, its specific sounds and sentence architecture.

There are also English and German-language folks around, and Romanian and some others. I’m really not an expert, but the more languages surround me, the cooler I feel. I like that feeling of a mini-Babylon around.

In one of the previous posts I’ve told you how getting a South African visa turned out. And how I had to go get tickets to Bulgaria when it’s wasn’t even in my plans anymore. But surely right now, sitting in the chair on our beautiful balcony with the view on the old red rooftops and a piece of the sea, having just eaten the best waffles in my life, I do appreciate the turn of the events. I eat, sleep and swim. I’m alone here and I’m fine with it. I guess this summer just wore me out to a certain point.

In Moscow I couldn’t really rest. I felt tired 24/7. And I couldn’t eat. Just didn’t have the appetite. All I could do was to stuff my day with more things to do and keep myself occupied. And then get into bed before the stress kicks in. I always wonder why no matter what I do it brings me to this state of exhaustion. And is it only Moscow?

It took my body two days to figure out it was still alive. That happiness of being hungry! Right across the road there’s a little tent where two ladies make crepes and waffles – “palachinki” and “gofreti”. They are from Plovdiv, coming to Sozopol every summer for 11 years already. There are tons of tents like theirs offering same crepes and waffles. But it must really be about recipes and attitude, because I haven’t tried any stuff like theirs in the area, ever. You ask for a crepe, and they pour the sour onto a big disk-like cooker. You should see the mastery with which they follow the routine – pour, spread, wait, turn, spread the chocolate, add the nut powder, and thin banana slices (or anything you want there). Same with waffles. As a result, here I am, on the balcony with a sea-view, completely unable to move.

The coffee machine is also same after these four years. A price for a cup of hot chocolate has never gone up – 70 stotinki, which is about $0.50. Can’t but love it. Actually, all my favorite places are located by one road, Ropotamo. It surely is a long one, but still.

There’s a tent that’s not so Bulgarian – offering “duners” and kebabs, held, I believe, by the Turkish guys. Oh the attention you get there if you’re a lady! But their duners (pieces of fried chicken, salad, french fries and different sauces in a lavash) are really something.

Another place I love here is right on the beach, open to the salty wind and rays of sunshine that find their way through the holes in the wooden tent. It’s called Moreni, and they cook some delicious Bulgarian food in there. I must admit that Bulgarians aren’t usually very friendly to you from the very beginning, especially if it’s your first visit to the place. However, if you’re patient enough, keep greeting and thanking them no matter in which language (but especially in Bulgarian), you’ll get a completely different attitude. Tourists are mostly quite inattentive. I still believe that small cafes and restaurants in cities like Sozopol must feel like home. And now whenever I come to Moreni, I get all the smiles and a really warm attitude. The owner is a super nice lady who also remembered me from last year. She’s five months pregnant now, and all in the business. I love it there.

The trick is to find a place that has a balance between good food, good prices and good owners. Or at least good food and good prices. But Sozopol, as many coastal cities, is only alive in summer, and same people keep coming back, spending time or doing business. For an urban animal like me it is a bit confusing that everyone knows each other, and that you see the same faces and come back to the same places every day. But once you give in to the atmosphere, it’s awesome.

The Black sea was my first sea. I was three, and my parents took me to Crimea, which then belonged to Russia. And later we would go to Gelendjik with my grandparents every year. They never were able to get me out of the water. Once or twice I almost drowned, overestimating my powers. Now I can swim up to three kilometers per turn (haven’t really tried more, besides, you feel dizzy enough after three) – it’s about 1,5 hours in the water. I can float on my back, I can do really cool stuff when the waves are up. But two things still don’t let me enjoy myself very much here: seaweed and jellyfish. The Black sea isn’t as salty as Mediterranean or Andaman. But maybe it’s not even an issue. Anyway, there are times, when you swim… feeling good… and then something slimy touches your leg. I wonder if I ever grow up enough not to freak out every time it happens. Panic on the water is dangerous. Now the jellyfish are seemingly gone, but these seaweeds.. Especially when you’re swimming in goggles… Yikes.

Anyway, just a week’s left in beautiful Sozopol. Time flies. No problems solved, no essays written… Whatever. Will try to compile a post about the city and its history next time.

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