The Black Sea

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BURGAS: GEMS OF MARITIME GARDEN INSPIRE MODERN FICTION

This is the biggest town in the Southeast. It is connected to Sofia via one of Bulgaria's two completed motorways and has an airport that usually needs a second wind in summertime. Burgas itself has few particular sites of interest, but bestselling author Elizabeth Kostova singled one out in her latest novel, The Shadow Land (2017). This is the old Maritime Garden casino, or just The Casino, as everyone in Burgas refers to it.

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:47
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LAST DAYS OF BOLATA

With the exception of some pockets of overdevelopment, the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast remains a place of relatively unspoiled nature, picturesque beaches and cliffs, historical sites and landscapes to remember. It is the home of rare ecosystems, like the easternmost edges of the great Eurasian steppes. Its location on the Via Pontica migratory route is why in spring and autumn its skies are full with birds, many of them endangered species.

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 11:39
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GREEN BLACK SEA

The result of centuries of violent storms embedded in the consciousness of seafaring nations, the name of the Black Sea should not be taken literally. Its waters are not black, but mainly dark blue or lead grey, depending on the weather and the season.

Yet in June the Black Sea turns a vivid green, a colour you'd expect to see at an exotic tropical beach. Last year the change was so dramatic that it was visible from space. A NASA composite satellite photo showed the Black Sea's deep blue heart covered with swirls of turquoise.

How does this happen?

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:23
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BYGONE NESEBAR

Zillions of stalls selling kitschy souvenirs, beach towels, jeans and conveyor-belt-produced marine landscapes cover the walls of the medieval churches and 200-year old houses.

Many tourists are actually wondering what they are doing in Nesebar.

The obvious answer is they are visiting what is probably Bulgaria's best known and most visited UNESCO World Heritage site.

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 13:30
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ST ANASTASIA ISLAND

To the British, He gave mastership over the seas, while the Swiss received the mountains, the Russians got the great plains, and the Germans took possession of the thick forests. When God ran out of gifts, He noticed that there was a people who were still empty-handed: the humble Bulgarians, languishing at the end of the queue of nations. Baffled, God soon realised what had happened: the Devil had stolen all the best pieces of the earth. The Almighty took everything back, and gave it to the Bulgarians.

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:51
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AMAZING SINEMORETS

Sinemorets, one of the last Bulgarian villages before the border with Turkey, is one of those places.

The village has its fair share of ugly hotels destroying the view and the tranquility, but as it is far from the main hubs of tourist activities on the coast, these abominations are small in scale and leave enough space for true nature to survive, and for you to enjoy it.

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 12:13
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BLOOMS OF YAYLATA

This corner of Bulgaria is a protected area where wildlife cohabits with ancient ruins, and the southernmost corner of the great Eurasian steppes reaches a rugged seacoast full of coves and caves. Located about a couple of kilometres from the nondescript village of Kamen Bryag, Yaylata remains one of the last refuges of nature, history and landscape undisturbed by human presence in Bulgaria. Most tourists come here to take photos, and then rush away to more comfortable places.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:01
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SOZOPOL'S PRIME GHOST

She sips her white wine, which we are enjoying in the best of Sozopol's restaurants, on the rocky shore of the old town, and adds: "Being a fisherman is not something you are taught in school, it is a trade that generally runs in the family."

The place she is talking about is difficult to miss. In modern Sozopol, a resort of brash new overdevelopment and manicured traditional architecture, the deliciously ghostly ruins on St Kirik island, just by the harbour, stand out. The beauty of the original building is still visible, deteriorating under the elements.

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 13:05
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SOZOPOL

This, however, does not mean you have to avoid this former fishing settlement and current tourist trap. You just have to plan your visit wisely, avoiding the high summer season. September is the perfect time to enjoy Sozopol for the first or the tenth time. Most of the crowds have gone, and the old town with its meandering lanes, traditional wooden houses and rocks pounded by the sea is calmer. The other visitors are mainly actors, musicians, authors and the like who are here for their annual gathering, the Apollonia Arts Festival.

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:19
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BEGLIKTASH, A MEGALITH IN WINTER

The ancient Thracian sanctuary known with the Turkish word Begliktash stands in a meadow that opens up dramatically before you after a 40-minute walk along an overgrown path through the oak forest of the Strandzha. Anticipation builds even before you start on the path because just where it begins is the Dragon's Houses, a Thracian dolmen hidden by a canopy of tree branches.

Scattered seemingly at random, like the abandoned building blocks of a giant baby, some of the rocks which make up Begliktash weigh up to 150 tonnes.

Wed, 08/03/2016 - 11:25
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AHTOPOL

The similarities between the two are not only in their names. Both are located on rocky peninsulas that have provided security for their inhabitants since Antiquity. Both were founded by Greeks well millennia ago. Both were until the early 20th century Greek-populated and both have been fishing communities for centuries. Both have a combination of ancient fortifications and traditional architecture. Intrigued? Find out more.

Wed, 08/03/2016 - 11:20
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HAIL TO THE SUN

Bulgaria, however, is also the home of a feast that is unique to it yet in the best case scenario is no older than 35 years.

On the night of 30 June and 1 July, people gather by the sea. They spend the night drinking and listening to music, and when the sun begins to rise, they play Uriah Heep's song July Morning. Everyone is happy.

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 12:37
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AT LAND'S END

In 1808, a German geographer, August Zeune, erroneously referred to southeastern Europe as "The Balkans" because he thought the Balkan range ran all the way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. It doesn't. It exists entirely in Bulgarian territory: from the border with Serbia to the Black Sea coast at Cape Emine (Emine being a pretty common female Turkish proper name). The Bulgarians themselves refer to the mountain as "The Balkans" only in a poetic context. In everyday speech, The Balkans is just Stara Planina, or Old Mountain.

Sat, 04/09/2016 - 13:21
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