We're now in Bulgaria!

We awake this morning in Silistra, Bulgaria.  

The more energetic amongst us are encouraged to join a hike, which apparently turned into a drive up to the fort, a stroll around, and a walk downhill. No excuse to have coffee and cakes later! The Silistra Fortress has a hexagon shape. It was built between 1841 and 1853 based on plans of the German military engineer Helmuth von Moltke who also designed another fort near the town of Ruse, called Levent Tabia.

Dawn again chooses the half day tour, and travelled to the town of Alfatar, where guests were welcomed at the community centre with local bread and local apricot brandy. And its only 11am! The centre is also a museum showing the inside of a typical Bulgarian home.  Three women are dressed in traditional costume and there is a gentleman playing the accordion. Dancing follows! One of the ladies is the local mayor!

Across the road there are traditional costumes to try ourselves! One brave gentleman and four ladies from the Furlongs clan try the clothes on and go outside into the sunshine to be photographed by fellow guests. We have taken their names.

Next stop is a local school, where the headmistress, some of the teachers and a whole bunch of children have come along (on a Sunday) to perform a concert for us. The school building is dilapidated, and it is clear the school doesn’t have many resources, but the children enjoy performing traditional Bulgarian songs and dances, and some songs in English too. A moving and emotional visit.

Richard again opts for the full day excursion, setting off to the Black Sea Port of Varna. On route, the guides have slotted in a quick comfort stop with tea and coffee. The café is located adjacent to boating lake in a pretty park. Only one problem, there’s no water in the lake. When Richard arrives into the café, he notices a very long queue for the coffee urn. He decides to get involved and redesigns the layout and serves cups of coffee. The café owner seems happy and offers him a job.

One of the highlights of the visit to Varna is our walk along the sandy beach. We lunched in a restaurant set inside a Jolly Roger style pirate galleon, and then walked down steps onto the sand. Some clients took off their shoes and socks and paddled in the sea. No doubt they will claim they swam in the Black Sea, but we know better! One guest even collected some Black Sea water in a plastic bottle. Reason unknown!

Sadly, Richard was caught on camera walking along the beach with mobile phone in hand (presumably talking to Dawn?). The resultant photo features Richard walking quickly past a local lady partly clothed in a bikini. He claims not to have noticed the local sunbather.  

With everyone back board Scenic Jade, our cruise director Adrian decides to run an after-dinner music quiz. We split into small teams and hope for the best. Somehow, we survive the experience. Thank goodness the bar is still open!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock © Valentin Valkov