Relax. Read. Rejuvenate. Repeat. It seems the Black Sea Coast in Bulgaria was made for slowing down and soaking up coastal living.
For two weeks, we managed to indulge in this sentiment entirely. We boarded in the home of a local Bulgarian grandmother, Gayna, who has a 3-story house she rents out to travelers throughout the high season. At just $13 a night, we enjoyed a private room with a balcony and views of the ocean, hot water, a complete kitchen, and lovely Bulgarian exchanges. Though Gayne did not speak a lick of English, she was full of stories, questions, warnings, hugs, and kisses. I am pretty sure she told me one night that she was so impressed with Lee (a man cooking in the kitchen) that she was going to steal him away in a sack and keep him forever…though that may have just been my liberal interpretation of all the hand gesturing, “oohs” + “aahs”, and smiles.
Trying to soak up the long, lazy days as much as possible, we awoke each morning and enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit and cereal. Afterwards, we practiced yoga on our balcony before heading out for the day.
Just outside our doorstep was the local neighborhood park, and a short walk downhill past an ever-patient donkey brought us to the main strip of beach in Sozopol. With the help of an incredibly gracious Russian family we met on the journey to Sozopol, we discovered hidden gems thoughout town. The jutting rocks around the point of the peninsula were our main haunt. We soaked up the heat from the rocks below and sun above while winds whipped at the air and waves crashed dramatically against the rocks. We sat for hours in the miniature alcoves we found amongst the rocks and explored the florescent living pools of seaweed around us.
Each day, we tried to discover a new rock or beach hideaway, comparing the merits of each to the day before. The crushed seashell beach was enchanting, with a pastel rainbow of shells in varying shades of peach and purple. I loved combing through the seashell sand to find well-worn sea glass in greens and blues.
The entire coast was dotted with fig trees that were poppingly ripe. We enjoyed the fresh fruit by the handful, and the seagulls above enjoyed the occassional snack from the trees as well. The fallen and dripping fruit created sticky patches that reminded me of smushed fig newtons. The area was also populated with pomegranate trees that were in fruit, which is incredible to see since they are so foreign.
For the price of a cold beer ($2.50 lev or about $1.88 US), we lounged in an infinity pool overlooking the cliffs and beaches of The Black Sea below, listening to American ballads and alternating between our deck chairs and the chilly water in the midst of “infinity”.
The Old Town (founded in the 7th century BC) is lined with half-stone, half-wooden houses with dark creaking boards that lend the city its sea-blown charm. Between each set of houses were stone paths with views to the roaring ocean.
Most of our lunches consisted of the basic Bulgarian salad ingredients: fresh tomato, feta, cucumber, and bell pepper. Though we did try “tsatsa”, or tiny little minnows fried whole (bones, tail, eyes, and all). Lee enjoyed a heaping plateful; I enjoyed one!
We cooked simple meals for supper, but it was the first time I really whole-heartedly enjoyed cooking. We made our own pasta sauce from ingredients bought at the local fruit & vegetable stands (several fresh tomatoes, an onion, and a clove of garlic) and I was wowed with how simply such a delicious sauce could come together. Watching solid ingredients melt to a sauce in the pan before my eyes was so rewarding. Clearly, I am a new chef! We got a little more adventurous with a potato pastry supper we made with phyllo dough, potatoes, eggs, and sausage (inspired by a local dish I ordered in the Old Town a few days prior) which was pretty good though we made mental tweaks for the next round!
The gorgeous water views and endless inlets kept calling our names, so we tried to spend as much time by the water as possible. We dove head first into The Black Sea, tread in the strong waves, donned goggles for intrepid exploration, and read + wrote by the water. Serendipitoulsy, the first poem I turned to in my book captured the spirit of Sozopol and our current exploits perfectly:
Roadways by John Masefield
One road leads to London,
One road runs to Whales,
My road leads me seawards
To the white dipping sails.
One road leads to the river,
As it goes singing slow;
My road leads to shipping,
Where the bronzed sailors go.
Leads me, lures me, calls me
To salt green tossing sea;
A road without earth’s road-dust
Is the right road for me.
A wet road heaving, shining,
And wild with seagull’s cries,
A mad salt sea-wind blowing
The salt spray in my eyes.
My road calls me, lures me
West, east, south, and north;
Most roads lead men homewards,
My road leads me forth
To add more miles to the tally
Of grey miles left behind,
In quest of that one beauty
God put me here to find.