Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pretending to be rich

I'm leaving Varna today, heading back Romania way as I make my way back to Budapest where I have a flight in a few days.

Varna's been fun - the hostel I've stayed at is one of the best I've ever patronized, the city is neat and the beaches are nice.

Beaches here are... organized we'll say, compared to the ones back home. There's bars and restaurants on the beachfront and they put out umbrellas and lounge chairs which they will charge you for using. But they will also serve you on the beach, of course. It's very different then the canteens you get at places like Cavendish beach.
You can be charged for a lot of things here. Going to the washroom - even if you're in a restaurant, there's often a little old lady ready to collect your 30 Stotinki (the Bulgarian cent, basically) for the privilege of using the facitilies. In the city's cathedral, I was admitted free but told that if I wanted to take photos I'd have to pay 5 Leva. Then there's the beach stuff as mentioned - an umbrella will run you 3 Leva I believe. That's under two bucks, but if you add up all the little bits it's not so cheap any more.

I hung out with some folks at one of the beachfront cocktail bars yesterday. It's expensive by Bulgarian standards but still cheap to any of the tourists. A swanky kind of place that none of us could afford in our own countries. The clientele, besides tourists, consisted of many bulky men with beer bellies and numerous tattoos, and their slim, attractive wives - the kind that only money can buy, I guess. The lounge had two swimming pools with pillows all around, which you had to pay to use, and then loads of white couches with pillows. So for a few hours I got to pretend to be a rich girl, which was alright.
Since everything is so cheap over here, there's loads of foreigners, mostly from the UK but now others from Germany and other European countries, who are buying property over here. Small houses needing work are going for 7,000 Euro even, and it seems that decent ones are in the 30,000 range going upward of course (from what I gathered from the displays of all the real estate agents in the city).

The building style is a little different over here as well - here's an example and then the cathedral exterior.

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