Displaying items by tag: The Black Sea
London has Camden Passage (Portobello is so upmarket nowadays), Paris has the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, Rome has Porta Portese, Athens has Monastiraki and Tbilisi has the Dry Bridge Flea Market: local flea markets are one of the most delightful experiences in capitals across Europe. Once they were the haunt of those who did not have enough disposable income to buy new stuff. They also attracted collectors, fringe cultures, and optimists believing that they would find a lost Rembrandt among all the knick-knacks. With the advent of cheap, disposable fashion (thanks, China), mass travel and mass hipsterisation, however, those with little cash moved to the malls, and the joy of finding some vintage clothing, or a 1960s piece of furniture that would look great in the living room went mainstream. This trend ruined Portobello, and put all the other flea markets solidly on the tourist map.
"Today I went to see that sort of an island with the ruins, but it was closed. I read that it used to be a school for fishermen," a British friend says, incredulously. 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."
Crowds have ruined Sozopol, we have told you time and again, as recently as our previous issue. 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.
A short drive north of Primorsko, a resort town on the southern Bulgaria Black Sea coast, you will find a site that challenges the imagination.
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.
Ah, Sozopol, it used to be so quiet/picturesque/authentic/artistic!... If you are fed up with Bulgarian friends mourning the over-touristification of this southern Black Sea (former) gem, there is an answer. Anyone tired of the madding crowds in summertime Sozopol should go farther south, to Ahtopol.
Bulgarians love to boast the real or imaginary uniqueness of their feasts, from the Kukeri dances to the Nestinari firewalking, and from vine pruning during St Trifon Zarezan's feast to picking of oil bearing roses. What unites these is their long history, spanning centuries and probably millennia.
"Prince Carol pointed the gun at his brother, Prince Nicholas. The Queen jumped at him. The gun went off and wounded her fatally," recounted Georgeta Caloianu, a lady-in-waiting.
The official biographers kept silent about this shocking incident which led to the death of Queen Marie of Romania several months later on 18 July 1938. Before she died, the fairhaired, blue-eyed darling of Europe's high society expressed the wish to be buried in her favourite palace at Balchik in Bulgaria.