Posts Tagged ‘rick steves divorce’

As I have said before (ad nauseam, probably), I’m not a beach person, but although I’d already visited the Black Sea twice, I was moderately interested in seeing it again. At Yalta I had thought the water dirty but the town interesting, while at Batumi in Georgia the pebble beach and the temperature had reminded me of England and of summers shivering beside the Channel. However, the Black Sea resorts were Bulgaria’s biggest mainstream tourist attraction. Of course, that might or might not be a good thing.


Definitely not good was the distance to the coast from anywhere else of interest. According to the schedule Lyuba had provided, we would leave Plovdiv at 8:00 and not check into our hotel in Nessebar until 18:00. True, that did include visits to one museum (in Kazanluk) and two tombs (Kazanluk and Kosmata). I was keen to see the Thracian gold (from the fifth century B.C.E.), and it was indeed both beautiful and impressive, but the tomb was much smaller than I expected – I had been remembering the big beehive-shaped tomb I had visited at Mycenae. This was a similar shape, but the ceiling frescoes were the real interest. We had to wear white coats and remain silent, and got just two minutes in the tomb. The second tomb was bigger, but had no frescoes. Alas, no photos allowed anywhere.


Unfortunately, I felt starvation setting in again when Lyuba postponed lunch until after the second tomb, and had to eat my sandwich (a substantial chicken one provided by the Plovdiv hotel) while the others started on the tomb. We all enjoyed the red wine and grapes that were handed round after lunch, and we made a mid-afternoon stop at a Burger King – a rather nice Burger King, with good toilets.

It was a relief to arrive at Nessebar, where I was pleased to find that my room came with a neat balcony with a view of the water. The relief was short-lived, however. I should have read Lonely Planet with more care – this was tourist central with a vengeance. Once upon a time Nessebar was, I feel sure, a small, charming fishing village. Now it was wall-to-wall souvenir shops and cafes. Even without wall-to-wall tourists it was exactly the kind of place I hope to avoid.

The bad news? We were at Nessebar for two nights. The good news was that at least we weren’t at Sunny Beach, a major resort complex we could see across the bay. Lyuba told us that it attracted young, partying Europeans in droves, but that the prices had been driven so slow it might not be sustainable.


Next morning our tour of the town took in the museum and several churches, giving us some idea of what the place might have been like before the souvenir shops and hotels took over. I was starting to work on plans for my next country, Macedonia, and was pleased when Lyuba ate lunch with me and gave me some contacts and suggestions. (Although I did take her claim that Albanian and Macedonian men, unlike Bulgarians, could be dangerous to solo women travellers with a grain (or two) of salt.)


After an afternoon stroll with my camera I joined one of the singles on her balcony where we shared wine (the local merlot easily beat the local chardonnay), and she filled me in on the gossip from the west coast. I had thought that Rick Steves’ divorce might have been his ex-wife’s idea – maybe she had tired of having a husband who spent every summer in Europe? But no, it was the same old story – middle-aged man falls for much younger woman.


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