Postcard from Bulgaria

We got the hot gossip washed down with Bulgarian plonk we were hoping for. But that didn’t mean our entire trip was a non-stop booze-fest. In between top-ups, we did manage to drink in a bit of culture too, with a gander round ancient Nessebar, a pretty little town tumbling over a small Black Sea island joined to the mainland by a causeway. It’s full of old Orthodox churches and sprinkled with bars, cafés and places to browse for tourist tat and local handicrafts. The assault course of rough cobbled streets is charming but ladies and drag queens should leave the heels at home. Even the flat-shoed risk a snapped ankle.

Founded in the second millennium BC and originally a Thracian settlement called Mesembria, the town passed down the line to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgars before eventually falling to the Ottomans in 1453. Our guidebook called this ‘the time of the Turkish enslavement’ – memories run very deep in the Balkans. Finally, Nessebar was incorporated into the new Bulgarian state in 1885.

Nessebar has a small but impressive museum exhibiting artefacts from down the many ages. Fallen Catholic Liam loves a religious icon and started to hyperventilate when we stumbled across a room full of ’em.

Thank you to our lovely landladies for putting us up and putting up with us – you know who you are!

Bulgaria Beckons

We’re parachuting into Bulgaria for a few days to catch up with a couple of former Bodrum Belles from our Turkey days. They upped sticks and left Turkey soon after we did. Whereas we washed up in Norfolk, they continued their foreign escapades by pitching their tent in old Bulgaria. It’s pastures new for us – though I did make it as far as Transylvania on a school trip back in the day – so we can’t wait. We’re expecting hot gossip washed down with copious amounts of cheap, full-bodied Bulgarian plonk. We were asked ‘red, white or any alcohol?’ We replied, ‘yes.’

So, until normal service resumes, here are some random summer images from the village.

Наздраве (naz-drah-veh). That’s ‘cheers’ in Bulgarian.

Postcard from Paxos

Postcard from Paxos

After flying into Corfu, we had some time to kill before our ferry to Paxos so we dropped off our suitcases at left luggage and went for a casual stroll around Corfu Town. Suddenly the skies darkened, the heavens opened and Mad Mother Nature threw a hissy fit with an instant snap, crackle and pop storm. And who can blame her? Caught completely off-guard, we and everyone around us rushed for cover to the nearest café. Our jovial host couldn’t believe his luck.

The storm passed as quickly as it had arrived and sun-kissed calm was quickly restored.

Three hours later we were in the village of Lakka, our home for our lazy week in nirvana. Our digs were typically Greek – squeaky clean but basic – with friendly staff, cheap local plonk and dodgy electrics. The pool, however, was a shimmering jewel surrounded by lush pine-clad hills, just the ticket for dossing and dipping.

Paxos is a sceptre’d isle of endless olive groves and randy crickets, partially protected from the stresses and strains of modern mass tourism. Laid-back Lakka is on the north side of the island, wrapped around one half of an iridescent yacht-sprinkled bay. Picture-perfect and taverna-stuffed, the pretty village of alleys and squares is an unhurried cash-only kinda of place. Leave the plastic at home.

We absolutely loved it. Yamas!

A Greek Treat

After the big letdown that was our Canarian getaway – cancelled flight, greyish skies, cool-ish nights, sad face, sad face – a Greek treat is next on the holiday agenda. We fly to Corfu followed by a short ferry hop to nearby Paxos. It looks bleedin’ marvelous.

Yes, that’s our pool bottom right. But will it go the way of Tenerife? I’ll keep you posted.

Tenerife: Was it Worth it?

Not really. Our digs were great – comfy and well-dressed – and the staff were fantastic but, let’s face it, the point of any holiday in the sun is, well, the sun. There’s a bit of a clue in the title. And there was precious little sun in Tenerife.

“The sun’ll come out tomorrow,”

Liam sang.

And it did for a couple of afternoons only to disappear once again behind a thick blanket of cloud. Talking of blankets, we put extra layers on our bed to keep warm.

There were no sunny coffee mornings on the terrace, no quick dips in the pool to cool down or sultry evenings on the sauce. We tried to make the best of a bad lot – drinking through it at various watering holes in buzzy Puerto de la Cruz with its trendy old town.

We were rather taken with the Fanny Bar

…and the murals

…and then there was the graffiti.

We even managed a day trip to La Orotava, a pretty inland Canarian town.

But in the end, when rain was forecast, we thought sod this for a game of soldiers and came home a week early. Still, as disappointing as it was, we try to keep a sense of proportion. After all, there are real soldier games going on in the world.

And there’s always Greece in July to look forward to, assuming our flight isn’t cancelled again.