English Gothic on Sunny Beach...
Fondest memory: Varna is a central location in Bram Stoker's influential novel, DRACULA...
The Count's coffin is loaded onboard ship at the port here, bound for Grimsby, & it's Dracula's intention to make a return voyage, (until he realises that Van Helsing intends to intercept him there, so he diverts his journey further north, towards Transylvania...)
I assume, having witnessed the city's less than adequate signage, that it's possible to come & go from Varna, but not realise it's significant role in this classic of English Gothic literatue, because there's no monument here to indicate so...
A missed opportunity I think, especially as the resort retains an eastern European essense of the Gothic, & as with it's sister port, 0dessa, it doesn't take a vivid imagination to convince 1self that such sinister folklore might have an unsettling truth to it...
- Study Abroad
- Arts and Culture
Varna in 1984
Favorite thing: In far 1984 Bulgaria was almost the only country that Russians could visit though it was very difficult and expensive. Nevertheless some of us managed to go there and the famous Bulgarian resort Varna was the main attraction, as well as the Golden Sands (Zlatny Piasky) and the Sunny Beach (Slinchev Briag).
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the third largest city in Bulgaria. The Varna culture is a record holder, the oldest golden treasure in the world was discovered in Varna Necropolis, consisting of artifacts dating to 4,750 BCE.
From 1949 till 1956 the city was renamed by the communist government into the name of Stalin.
I spent a month there in July of 1984 when worked with my students on the reconstruction of the local Puppet Theatre.
- National/State Park
- Mountain Climbing
Varna at glance
Favorite thing: Varna is sooo alike any other ex-soviet Black Sea resort. I basically didn't see any much difference with Crimea resorts (located in Ukraine). Though center mostly is well renovated and clean, it still feels like most of city have stucked in 80s.
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
The Monument on Blvd 8mi Primorski Polk
Favorite thing: The Boulevard Osmi Primorski Polk is one of Varna'a main roads leading Northwest out of the city centre, past the Municipan Building and the Soviet Monument. Osmi Primorski Polk translates as 8th Coastal Regiment and was one of the Bulgarian Army's main infantry regiments. The regiment suffered heavy casualties during the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 13 and also during the First World War. This monument commemorates those killed and is located just after the "Monument" bus stop, at the site of the regiment's former barracks.
- Historical Travel
A Very Useful Map
Favorite thing: The map pictured is definitely one of the most useful freebie (or indeed at any price) city street maps I've ever used. This is sponsored by the "Happy Bar and Grill" restaurant group and you can get a copy from most hotels, the Tourist Information Centre and probably several other locations. It is also accessible online at www.map-guide.bg
It accurately shows all the city's streets, including out towards the suburbs, and all the main tourist attractions, including of course the locations of the Happy's.
As a bonus it also shows the city bus routes (marked in red).
- Budget Travel
The "Obligatory Soviet Monument"
Favorite thing: This monument, constructed in the 1970's during the Communist era, celebrates not just the Soviet liberation of Bulgaria from the Nazis in 1944 but also the Imperialist Russian liberation from the Ottoman Turks in 1878.
This, along with similar monuments such as Plovdiv's "Alyosha", poses a problem for modern Bulgaria as it attempts to disassociate itself from its Communist past. At both National and local level decisions were made to remove those monuments dedicated to the cult figures of the Soviet period but leaves unsolved the riddle as to what to do with those which commemorate both Imperialist Russian and Communist Soviet contributions to Bulgarian history.
The consensus seems to be just to leave the things in place and let nature eventually take its course but as you can see from the pics this a solidly-built piece of concrete which natural forces aren't going to deal with in the short-term.
For a thought-provoking visit the monument is situated on top of a hill just off 8mi Primorski Polk, about 4 km east of the city, and you get great views from the top.
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Favorite thing: When I first encountered this monument in the Sea Garden I automatically assumed that it was the obligatory Soviet monument, as found in most Bulgarian towns and cities. It is however The Pantheon of the Perished in the Fight Against Fascism (to give it it's full title) - a different thing altogether!
There is an "obligatory Soviet monument" but that's on a hill on the outskirts of the city centre.
This monument, erected in 1961, commemorates the partisans and others who lost their lives combatting fascism during the Second World War.
Here's a little background:
In spring 1941 the Bulgarian government joined the Axis alliance despite the Country's earlier attempt at remaining neutral. At the time the Germans had a non-aggression pact with the USSR and so Bulgaria had made a pragmatic decision.
In June 1941 the German invasion of the Soviet Union led to the Bulgarian Communist Party actively opposing the fascist regime. By 1943 the BCP had been joined by other anti-fascist factions to form the Fatherland Front resistance movement. As the Soviets turned the tide against Nazi Germany this resistance movement became more aggressively active, disrupting supply lines and assassinating officials and officers (both German and Bulgarian).
In Spring 1944 the Bulgarian government decided on a major crackdown against the partisans and their sympathisers. According to the Wikipedia article this involved "100,000 soldiers, policemen and gendarmes" and resulted in the deaths of several thousand anti-fascists.
In September 1944, with the Red Army having officially declared war on Bulgaria and the Soviets on the Country's border, the Fatherland Front siezed political power in a Coup d'Etat and welcomed the Soviets as liberators.
It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Bulgarians were killed by German and Bulgarian forces during the 1941-44 period .
This then is their monument and the surrounding square has numerous commemorative plaques dedicated to some of the individuals.
The monument is often visited by newly married couples and graduating students to say thanks for their present-day fortunes.
- Historical Travel
Where To Get Your Postcard Stamps
Favorite thing: In Bulgaria the tourist shops that sell postcards and the like don't sell stamps. For these you need to go to the Post Office. Here in Varna there's a useful little Post Office outlet in the underpass under Maria Louiza, between the main square and the Cathedral.
A stamp is "edna marka", plural "marki". When ordering ask for (the number of)... marki za ... (your destination) molya and the helpful assistant will look up the cost for you. This place has the advantage over the main Post Office in that I've never seen it busy. It also sells a limited range of postcards, newspapers and stationery items.
The Municipal Tourist Info Centre
Favorite thing: I personally never had cause to use this info office but it is there for general tourist info on Varna and the surrounding area. It looks pretty chic though and peeking inside there seems to be plenty of brochures and bits and pieces on offer.
I don't know whether it does things like accommodation etc. but having gotten to know Varna a little I'm sure that the staff would be friendly and helpful.
The location is (I think) on Alexander Batenberg Street which is just off the pedestrianised Knyaz Boris 1, not far from the main square.
- Arts and Culture
All inclusive or not?
Favorite thing: Hi
As an expat that has lived here in Bulgaria for two years in the Varna region. I would not recommend the all inclusive route, there are good hotels in golden sands, the Admiral and the Melia hotel (previously the Kempinsky) are the best but there is a nice apart/hotel resort called Joya park that offers reasonable prices as well. The food in the hotels can be limited and you never really get to experience the best of the Bulgarian cuisine. You can eat very reasonably in the resort and outside of it even more so, buses are easily caught from the top of the resort into Varna or Balchik where there is plenty to do for variety. Drinks are also cheap if you catch happy hours there is a great cocktail bar, right opposite the beach mcDonalds, infront of the Asteria Hotel this does cocktails for 4lv all the time that is approximately £1.70 so very well priced.
Hope this helps and you enjoy your stay!
Hospital directory of Varna
Favorite thing: "St Marina" Hospital
Tzar Osvoboditel" 100
Tzar Osvoboditel 150
FIRST AID Hospital
Bregalnitza 3/ in St. Anna's Yard
052 / 634086
Majchin dom/ Birth Clinic
Swarm of storchs
Favorite thing: I am actually not sure they were storchs but they looked like it. They migrate in endless lines that travel over your head at least for some time . The funny thing was that they were weaving without any particular direction or rather in a spyral , probably due to the winds , but somehow still managed to stay together. Than left
the Concert of Ishtar in front of the Theater
Favorite thing: the Concert of Ishtar in front of the Theater was free for everyone and the place was crowded . I love this woman ,she has such great songs about love , family ,the universe.
She used to sing with Gipsy Kings as Alabina . Now she is solo ,with her moroccan brothers playing in her band...What a great time I had!!!
- Spa and Resort
Favorite thing: On the road coming from the Romanian border this is the part of the black sea coast that you can apreciate. there are a few kms between the border post after mangalia and varana. usually there are no taxis or at least there are no way to exchange money (at least by that time back in 2001). i got a ride from this bulgaran couple.
Fondest memory: the black sea is amazing. ists kind of mistical to me. still is. i went there like a call. he was calling me.
Favorite thing: Varna is a pretty easy city to negotiate, once you realise where the beach and the sea garden is, everything else is pretty straightforward. The road leading from the beach to Macdonalds is Slivnitsa, the other pedestrian road is Knyaz Boris I, this is where you'll find all the clothes stores and souvenirs.