Report on Bulgaria 2004
Trip to Balchik and Cape Kaliakra
I suppose I could have included this trip into the "Real Bulgaria" page but it was different inasmuch that we didn't meet any "real" Bulgarian people so I've added it as an extra excursion page.
The half-day, £15 per head trip started going north from Golden Sands, via Albena. Incidentally, Albena resort may appeal to you if Golden Sands is just too much "in your face" seaside tat. Just be aware that it is much more expensive (in Bulgarian terms) than Golden Sands or Sunny Beach.
We headed straight for Balchik, the summer retreat of one-time Queen Marie of Romania. The border between Romania and Bulgaria has wobbled back and forth quite a bit over the last century, so whether the retreat was built in what was then Romania, or whether she just liked Bulgaria, is difficult to fathom. No doubt the tour guide will put you right.
The retreat is dominated by the botanical gardens which are still maintained (no doubt to continue to attract the tourists). In the cactus gardens is a reptile/insect house also known as a Terrarium. Unlike the abomination found in Varna this one gets our (qualified) thumbs up, as it was bright, clean and animals had sufficient room to move around.
As we entered there was a large iguana running loose (well, quietly sitting on a cage) and who just loved having his ears rubbed.
It was pretty clear he was used to all the attention and was happy and content, as were all the animals there apart from those obviously being bred as food for the reptiles.
It would, however, probably benefit the owners to move the rates and mice in their breeding cages to bigger cages in order to give all the animals the same quality of life.
Onwards to Cape Kaliakra, a bird watchers' paradise yet enjoyable by everyone. From this cape you can apparently see pods of dolphins and even whales although we were not so lucky. Actually we skipped the tour here, quite deliberately as we felt we were being rushed along. We just wanted to look out over the sea for a bit so we did.
We caught up with our group in the one-and-only covered restaurant where we were given the treat of a drink and hot pancakes which were delicious - unlike some others we had on one of our "real bulgaria" trips as a dessert which were stone cold and totally inedible!
A quick walk past some ladies making lace (everything from tablecloths to coasters) to the furthest point and back again to the coach.
A full 5 hour half day lets you see the natural beauty of Bulgaria in the northwest.
Our rating: 8 out of 10
What we liked
The natural beauty.