Excuse me, do you speak English? That was a phrase I definitely wanted to learn before going to Bulgaria this Summer. My friend had invited me to go on holiday with her to Pomorie in Bulgaria; we were going to stay in the hotel room her parents own for one week at the end of June (just after my second year A level exams). The thought of going on holiday was a great motivator for me throughout the highly stressful exam period. Both my friend and I had our ‘Bulgaria 2k18’ playlist on repeat whilst revising, as we told ourselves that in a couple of weeks we would be lounging by the pool, relaxing in the sun.
The morning we left to go to the airport was a blur; we woke up at 3am (I think) after going to bed around midnight, loaded our suitcases into the car and left for Luton airport. Filled with nerves and excitement we hung around the airport for a few hours, drinking coffee and eating sushi before boarding our flight. After only getting a couple of hours of sleep we were both in deep slumber for our 3 hour flight, waking up just as we landed.
My first day in Pomorie, I got the chance to meet some relatives of my friend, all of whom, despite not speaking much English, were lovely and very welcoming. Although the weather wasn’t the 40 degree heat we were hoping for, the beach and sea looked stunning (see photos), and that evening we joined some of my friend’s family in celebrating someone’s birthday. I even got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Bulgarian!
On one of the more hot days, we decided to go down to the pool and sunbathe in our bikinis. Completely consumed by the excitement of the swimming pool I forgot to apply any sunscreen, leading to me being very red and burnt on my legs, arms, stomach and shoulders. I think it’s safe to say that for the rest of the holiday I made sure I applied and re-applied my sunscreen frequently.
I was very fortunate to be travelling with someone who spoke the language, as my friend often translated menus and what people were saying for me. That being said, I tried my best to speak the language when I could, leading to me excitedly shouting “MERSI” at every waiter that brought us our food.
One night, we bought a bottle of vodka and some Fanta and decided to play ‘never have I ever’ on the hotel room balcony. After being asked to be quiet and go to bed, we came up with the bright idea of taking a dip in the sea at 2am. We giggled as we carried our towels past the hotel staff and out onto the beach. We waded through the shallow water, commenting on the full moon and the humid night air. 20 minutes later we decided to head back to the hotel room. As we walked our flip-flops squeaked and squelched, causing us to burst out laughing when we walked past the hotel staff, dripping wet.
We had quite a few storms throughout the week, but one evening there was a particularly bad one whilst we were on the beach. Due to our stubbornness and complete lack of sanity, we ended up staying out in the storm for about an hour, making King Lear references (read Act 3, Scene 2). Although we were freezing and completely soaked, it was definitely worth it for the looks the hotel staff gave us as we walked in from the storm, dripping wet- again.
On the 1st July we decided to wake up super early and head to the town centre for sunrise. Whilst watching the sun break through the early morning fog, my friend and I decided to recite some of John Donne’s poem ‘The Sunne Rising‘, as we thought this was a hilarious portrayal of our A level English Literature exam. After laughing at ourselves for a good 5 minutes we decided to grab some breakfast and head back to the hotel.
My friend and I seemed to get even closer whilst in Bulgaria (I mean, we were stuck with each other for an entire week). Because of this we ended up creating an odd tradition of watching documentaries on the history channel every night before falling asleep. The majority of these documentaries were Hitler ones, and despite seeing it being advertised multiple times we never did get to watch the documentary on Dubrovnik; The Republic.
On the last day, we packed up all of our stuff, gave the hotel room a quick clean and got a taxi to the airport. Whilst in the taxi my friend received a call from her dad, essentially letting her know that she wouldn’t be able to travel back to the UK. This is because of a Bulgarian law that prevents people under 18 being able to travel alone without written parental permission and, as my friend was under 18 with a Bulgarian passport she could not come back with me. We ended up saying goodbye to each other at the airport as my friend went back to the hotel and I stayed at the airport. The stress of leaving my friend behind in Bulgaria was intensified as I realised that my already late flight was delayed by 2 hours. This meant hanging around duty-free, drinking coffee and making phone calls to my parents, letting them know that although I was travelling back by myself I was safe and fine.
My friend travelled back a few days later after her parents had sent in written parental permission for her to travel.
I really enjoyed my holiday in Bulgaria and would love to go back one day, hopefully when I’ve learnt more of the language. I loved being able to try Bulgarian food and learn some Bulgarian customs, making the whole experience even more amazing. I would definitely recommend Bulgaria as a holiday, just make sure you can legally travel back before leaving the country!