Varna, Bulgaria - May 23, 2010
Very nice couple of days all in all. The weather seems to have broken a bit. The clouds build in the afternoon but I haven't seen any rain now for almost 48 hours. Woohoo.
The highlight of Constanta was the wildlife. Not all that wild I guess. Swallows that flew through the cafe I was sitting at across from the hotel, the dog who seemed to reside in the parking lot across the street, and all the bird activity at a very small dust pocket in the sidewalk. Not much dust around given the weather and so there was quite a push-you don't-shove-me kind of thing going on there. So I've read that there are over 100,000 stray dogs in Bucharest... and most love to chase motorbikes it seems. But anyway, this dog in the parking lot was something different. Very sweet. Always trying to find a comfortable place to sleep. So it got me wondering about what a tough life he had and wondering about how he could possibly find any food. There was garbage around, but there were a lot of dogs too. Anyway, some couple come walking down the street and he goes and follows them off. So I sat for a while watching some finch, near the dust puddle, trying to make the moves on some lady finch. The mating dance seemed to consist of constantly pointing his arse in her direction while he danced an entire circle around her. Anyway a few laps later, he's exhausted... she flies off. Show over. But not really. Here comes our friend the dog back, this time with a huge red steak in his mouth! He looks around making sure no one is watching... do-de-do... and wanders off into the bushes to enjoy his meal. Crazy. Where did that come from? Like off of the butcher's stall? Lot's of street action there across from that cafe.
Old Casino, Constanta, Romania
Tarnished Beauty, the Old Casino
On the Black Sea Coast
I crossed the border into Bulgaria yesterday morning (a bit of a delay while the Bulgarian guard figured out what was what on my bike registration), but I had a nice talk with the Romanian guy whose only job was to stamp me out of the country. He was profusely apologizing for the bad driving habits of his countrymen. As well somebody should! Supposed to get worse in Turkey I've heard... from way more than one person.
Got stopped on the road just before the border by A German rocker/triker. Very nice, gave me his phone number in case I ever needed help. He told me to stop down the road to see some friends of his but his directions were not all that clear. I stopped at the place that I thought he described but just drew a blank stare when I mentioned his name. Sorry.
Am now staying at a place just above the town of Varna... actually haven't been into town yet. It's run by a Bulgarian family with some kind of German roots as they speak German quite fluently and there are many German guests. Grazi, the old guy, is native Bulgarian. I asked him where he learned his German and he said “in bed”... I suppose a reference to his German(?) wife. So I asked him where he learned his English. Just got a big smile. Best not to pursue that.
Big party here last night. It started as a graduation party for one of the local high-school kids and then just spread throughout the hotel. The owner got totally smashed, but through some persistent diplomacy, I was able to avoid a replay of the night in Budapest. He kept wanting to celebrate the fact that in all his years of operating, I am his first Canadian guest! But I didn't survive unscathed. Not sure what happened, but my back just started seizing up yesterday and I've spent most of today flat on my back. I was going to move on today, but thought better of it. It's warm here, has a good hard bed, a hot shower, good restaurant and I still have two days before I need to get the bike into Turkey. I think it's from schlepping those bags up and down stairs. Another advantage of camping. So I'm staying here as a recuperation day. The problem is, this kind of thing usually takes well more than a day to fix I've found.
This region of the Black Sea coast has obviously seen its boom and bust. I think it's in bust now. The last few miles of Romania looked like an older version of coastal Florida. A lot of hotels, restaurants and things that are now empty. Much of the beach is locked up behind hotels so no easy access. Getting closer to Varna, it looked the same. It's amazing to see how many ads for stuff you see along the roads (or right on the buildings) but when you look, there is nothing there. Empty. And have been closed for a while. So why not take down the sign? I'm too easily confused by that kind of stuff. I've already parked, gotten off the bike and gathered up my stuff only to be confronted by a locked door. No wonder my back hurts.
OK... well not much to tell. Pretty lazy existence right now. Just munching one aspirin every two hours. At least now I can shuffle along a bit. Don't even want to think of swinging my leg up over that bike tomorrow.