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November 21st

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Bulgarian Adventure - Days 7 & 8

Day 7

Konnie left to return to the US – to family, friends, and work. The remainder of the team met up with Martin’s family in Sofia, and began the long trip across the country to Varna. On the way, the caravan made a detour to Burdarski Geran, where Martin’s wife Anna was born and raised, and where her parents still live.

Mr. Toshkova

Anna’s father Mr. Pavel Toshkova was once mayor of the small village and her mother was an elementary school teacher. Both are now retired.

Varna is a quaint village 10 kilometers from the Blue Danube, the body of water that separates Bulgaria and Romania. The family lives on a small, but well-designed plot of land. Every inch of the property is used:  garden vegetables planted with flowers, and wine vines covering the walkway to the home. It is with these wine vines that Mr. Toshkova makes what is known to be “the best Rakia in Bulgaria.”

the family garden

The family made preparations for our arrival, and we enjoyed a great family-style meal in the comfortable home. It is clear that this family is full of love, and very welcoming of outsiders such as me.

Dinner with Martin's family

We left Burdarski Geran and moved on toward the sea and Varna. One of the main roads was closed, so what was to be a five-hour trip became an eight-hour trip! However, after all that wonderful food, sleeping was the order of the day!

Black Sea at sunset

We arrived in Varna after dark, and were able, at first light, to see the wonderful Black Sea, which made it well worth the trip! One of the orphanages is about two kilometers from the hotel, and we plan to make a visit on Tuesday. Can’t wait!

Day 8

Black Sea beach

We made a short trip with Svet and his family to the Balchik Castle and botanical gardens. It is a beautiful place, with a lot of rich history. The area known as Cadrilater was a part of Romania. In 1924, the Romanian Queen Maria fell in love with this land and took it as a place to build a summer home. She took much of the existing structure and built the castle from there.

Castle garden sign

The property is separated into Villas, and surrounded by a view of the sea and lots of greenery.  After World War II, Bulgaria recovered the land, and the Prime Minister turned it into a summer home. Today, however, it appears the property is used by the University with oversight of the gardens and tourism.

There is a unique plan for watering the castle gardens, with water flowing down the property as it is set into the hill, down to the sea. There is a “bridge of sighs” where the waterfall begins the downhill watering process.

Bridge of Sighs

You notice an interesting marble chair that has a great view of the sea and the surrounding land, and it is understood that the Queen began each day sitting in the chair watching the sun come up. It is very obvious that this beautiful property was built for the pleasure of the queen and the pleasure of those around her.

Queen Maria's chair

We then finished the evening off at a mussel farm. This farm/restaurant is known as Dalboka, and is set into the hill outside of Kavarna. It is situated in the sea about 40 kilometers from the Romanian border on the last of the Bulgarian coastline, in that direction. This farm, which began in 1993, specializes in the cultivation and production of ecologically clean Black Sea mussels.

Mussel Farm

It was my first time to eat mussels, and I must say it was a most tasty experience! We will get “back to business” tomorrow, and hope to finish the planning process and prepare for our visit to the orphanages.

plate of mussels
steamed mussels

Blessings,

Sonya

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