I first visited Bulgaria in 2011 as part of a G Adventures trip from Budapest to Istanbul. I was able to visit cities like Belogradchik, Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo. However, I never got to the Black Sea. My agent Stephen Hanselman (who took the photos for this post) and his wife Julia Serebrinsky recently visited the Black Sea and came away with a newfound respect for the country and the region. Here Julia’s story about what she discovered in Bulgaria and why it is not what people expect.
In the aspirational world of international travel, Bulgaria is not a country that gets much respect, not even from its neighbors. In Moscow, where I spent my early childhood, a popular proverb about the former Soviet satellite went something like this: “As a hen is not a bird, Bulgaria is not abroad.”
In other words, lower your expectations prior to landing.
Some things never change. In 2013, when my husband booked a three week summer vacation in Burgas, a port city along the Black Sea Coast of Southeastern Bulgaria, book-ending it with stays in Dublin and Istanbul, I found the reaction of our incredulous American friends tinged with familiar dismissiveness:
“Why Bulgaria?” they asked, picking it out as the oddity on our itinerary.