Report on Bulgaria 2004
Trip to the Danube river
This £29 (84 lv) per person excursion goes via Dobrich (which you could easily visit by yourself in a taxi), Silistra and Srebarna before boarding the river cruise for your 1 hour trip down the Danube.

Silistra, and its neighbouring Srebarba are highly regarded for bird watching in the lakes around that area. We stopped at the well signposted Natural History Museum in Srebarna where they gave you binoculars to help you spot some of their visiting birds. There is a path around the lakes but when we visited it was raining and we were only there for about 30 minutes anyway.
The coach trip was quite nice except for a major problem with the window pane by our seat. The double glazing seal had failed so it was quite misted up for the most part which spoiled the trip, at least on the outbound part. (Needless to say, after this we were very careful about where we sat in the coach to avoid such a repetition. As it happended no other coach we used had this problem, but we did spot this coach being used by Balkan on other trips).

As I may have mentioned, I'm a tall lad so can see over the top of other people's heads so the window pane didn't really bother me, but it did degrade the trip for the rest of my family. After all, when you're sightseeing you do really need to see clearly! As the coach was full there was no where else to sit so that was that!
Lunch was provided in the town of Silistra with the obligatory "folk show". However, don't be put off by this as every "folk show" on each of our tours was different and, in its own way, quite interesting. The show might have been staged for us tourists, but from talking to our guide it was a genuine show performed at their festival days for their own enjoyment.

On this particular day, the 20 minute show was performed by some quite mature ladies (and a couple of men) who danced and sang to the accordian. We were also offered the traditional bread (made with cheese) and which you dip into their "salt" which is actually a mixture of herbs and spice and is jolly tasty.
A quick horse cart ride rounded off the precursor to the boat trip itself. The locals running the horse carts did not speak a word of English but I tried my pidgin Russian and he seemed quite surprised (at my accent, no doubt). In any case he handed me the reins and encouraged me to let the horse gallop along. The horse had obviously been shut in the stable too long because she took the opportunity to let fly - much to my consternation - although everyone else seemed to think it was fun to be galloping along the road in a cart about to tip over at any moment!

I just kept wondering whether my insurance company would class this as a "dangerous sport"!
I was expecting the boat ride to be a serene experience as we watched for kingfishers dipping in and out of the Danube. It turned out to be a booze-cruise with kids running riot, Brits drinking glass after glass of beer and a demented accordianist playing live up and down the boat. Funny how the real thing just doesn't tally with expectations, hey?

If it had been a trip across the English channel, to Calais perhaps, I wouldn't have cared less; but to effectively ignore the local beauty of the Danube, with Romania on one side and Bulgaria on the other on a glorious sunny afternoon was a travesty. I wish I could have visited the Danube privately but it was just too far to travel by taxi from Golden Sands. If I ever return I will hire a car and do it properly!
Our Verdict

Marks: 5 out of 10

What we liked

Nice countryside.

Tasty cheese bread with salt.

What we hated
The boat ride: accordianist too loud, kids running riot
Other stuff
If you like the "salt" that you dip the bread into then you can buy the mixed spices in many of the stalls in Golden Sands for about 50p.