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Location - Eastern Europe; Capital - Sofia; Population - 7.1 million; Currency - Lev MORE BULGARIA

From Velika Tarovo there's a few buses south to Kazanlak, from where I took a taxi to the fantastic communist relic of Buzludzha, before heading to the Black Sea coast - May 2019.


bulgarianoteThe 10 Lev note










bulgaria143A first glimpse of the Buzludzha Monument was an exciting moment, somewhere I'd wanted to see since seeing photos like this - Buzludzha


bulgaria150It's a twisting and turning drive up the 1,441m peak to the UFO-style building - Buzludzha


bulgaria155Buzludzha was inaugurated in 1981 as an assembly hall, built to honour the creation of Bulgaria's first socialist party in 1891














bulgaria153Dark clouds above Buzludzha















bulgaria163'Workers - men and women of the world, unite! Ahead! Comrades, let's bravely build up our great cause! Let's work, let us create - the worker we need to enlighten!' reads the script on the near side. Apparently.. No idea about the translation of the far side - Buzludzha


bulgaria173From Veliko Tarnovo I was going to get off the bus at Shipka, slightly closer to Buzludzha, but the driver said there weren't any taxis. I couldn't see any and the bus didn't go into the centre, so I carried on to Kazanlak where he phoned a driver who took me for 40Lev return (or 50Lev? can't remember) with 30mins waiting


bulgaria170A red star, or what remains of it, adorns the top of the monument's concrete tower - Buzludzha




















bulgaria181Sadly the monument recently closed its doors to visitors, and there's several 'Entry Prohibited' signs. The building is crumbling and falling glass & debris is a genuine hazard - Buzludzha














bulgaria183... but some find their way in somehow. A security guard now patrols the area, and other visitors were talking about offering a bribe at an opportune moment (don't know if they got anywhere). Even if you do get in I'm not sure how straightforward it is to reach the hall and its fading mosaics. There's talk of it being transformed into a museum but there's nothing to show for it so far - Buzludzha


bulgaria177So I made do with these mosaics, of sorts, which include a 'Fuck USSR' scrawl - Buzludzha


bulgaria192The views of the plains below are superb, especially if the sun pierces the clouds like here - Buzludzha















bulgaria188Soon after this photo it started raining, and as you'd expect at the top of a mountain it was very windy. And in the winter this is all covered in snow - Buzludzha














bulgaria174Walk down this track to another small monument - Buzludzha


bulgaria146The Torch Monument lies below the UFO - Buzludzha


bulgaria193Some guy waiting at the train station at Kazanlak















bulgaria195It was just under 3hrs by train from Kazanlak to Bourgas, after which it's a short bus ride to the attractive Black Sea resort of Sozopol


bulgaria200The main town beach, which was very quiet in early May, with all sunbeds stacked away. These photos were from my maze-like hotel which very kindly opened one day before their season started, when I sneaked in the front door at 10pm - Sozopol


bulgaria205At the end of the beach is the old town peninsula - Sozopol















bulgaria209A restaurant with the perfect location - Sozopol
















bulgaria213Canoes on crystal clear waters head off to the nearby St Ivan's Island - Sozopol


bulgaria211The bay was beautifully calm and quiet - Sozopol


bulgaria212Drying out (or warming up?) on Black Sea rocks - Sozopol















bulgaria214 St Ivan's Island, a bird sanctuary and the Black Sea's largest island, is on the northern side of the peninsula - Sozopol















bulgaria221The fishing harbour was also chilled in May. You can hire boats to St Ivan's Island (out of nesting season) from here - Sozopol


bulgaria222A clipper moored in the harbour, probably waiting for the summer tourist season to kick into action - Sozopol


bulgaria219A 15min walk south of town is Harmanite Beach - Sozopol
















bulgaria224North of Sozopol and Bourgas is another old town peninsula next to Sunny Beach at Nesebar


bulgaria226Cross the isthmus, past a funny looking windmill, to Nesebar


bulgaria227Entrance to the old town is through the 5th century Town Gate - Nesebar















bulgaria228Nesebar is popular with day trippers from Sunny Beach, which is little more than 2km away















bulgaria230Walk between old wooden houses - Nesebar


bulgaria234There's several medieval churches in the old twown, including one adorned with swastikas, which represented the Sun in medieval times - Nesebar


bulgaria237Nesebar is lined with cafes and restaurants, plus loads of souvenir shops














bulgaria241On the opposite side of the bay from Nesebar is Sunny Beach















bulgaria246And the same picture in reverse, with the peninsula of Nesebar's old town seen from Sunny Beach


bulgaria256The beach view from Ina Golden Rainbow Hotel - Sunny Beach


bulgaria257Sunrise over the Black Sea - Sunny Beach















bulgaria263Sunny Beach, known as Slanchev Bryag in Bulgarian, covers several kilometres of sand meaning the resort stretches a long way















bulgaria260This was the general scene when I was in Sunny Beach. It was pretty much a ghost town with most shops, bars and restaurants closed or doing renovation work in preparation for the summer season


bulgaria265The Soviet Army Monument stands in Ploshtad Troikata - Bourgas















bulgaria268The Easter bunny's been in town - Bourgas
















bulgaria272An Armenian genocide memorial outside an Armenian Orthodox church - Bourgas


bulgaria274Well thanks very much - Bourgas


bulgaria276..I'm sure Jimi Hendrix would listen - Bourgas















bulgaria279The beach is long and pretty good for a port city - Bourgas
















Above the beach is Maritime Park, from where you can take in the pier and the waters of Bourgas Bay - Bourgas


bulgaria291Water sports in Bourgas Bay - Bourgas


bulgaria278And of course we have to have some Bulgarian street art - Bourgas















bulgaria285 A memorial honouring those 'who died for freedom' fighting against fascism - Bourgas















bulgaria284Maritime Park is a long stretch of gardens, cafes, sculptures and other attractions runnning alongside the beach - Bourgas


bulgaria282Snap! Haddaway! Dr Alban! Some blasts from the past playing a Bourgas festival



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LINKS - official Bulgarian tourism - Bulgarian trains website - and the buses site


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