Onwards to Bulgaria
Brasov - Bucharest (via train)
After two months in Brasov, we were absolutely ready to move on to a new location. We decided on Plovdiv, Bulgaria to be our next monthly stay, but wanted to make the trip there a little more interesting. Neither of us had really spent any time on the Black Sea, and we were curious to see just how black it actually is (answer: not so much. It's sea-coloured.). So, we created a route that would bring us to Varna, Bulgaria for a week before heading over to Plovdiv. Because Varna is not so close to Brasov, this meant a night in Constanta, Romania before crossing the border. There is also no direct train from Brasov to Constanta, so we had a quick stop over in Bucharest. Those thinking of taking a train trip in Romania should feel comforted that it is incredibly easy to search and book train trips on their official website.
Bucharest - Constanta (via train)
Because our train was 45 minutes late leaving Brasov, our layover in Bucharest was cut down from two hours to just over one, which was fine by us. Last year when we were travelling from Brasov to Chisnau, Moldova, we had a two hours to get from the train station on one side of Bucharest to a bus station on the complete opposite side of the city, and that was a nightmare to say the least. So we were very happy to have just enough time to grab a sandwich from Subway (ick) and get on our connecting train to Constanta.
Constanta - Varna (via mini bus)
We initially were concerned that one night in Constanta wouldn't be enough, but we were perfectly content with our 16 hours spent there. It's a nice beach town, where we were able to catch one of the most 80s-aesthetic sunsets I've experienced, and ate some incredible Lebanese food, but by the next morning, we were perfectly fine with moving on. Despite being only 150km (~93miles), it's actually not as straight forward to get from Constanta to Varna if you are without a car. We ended up going with a minibus (which seemed to be our only real option). When I tried to call to book it, they hung up on me because I couldn't speak Romanian, but we had an obliging Airbnb host in Brasov who booked it for us. When we arrived at the bus station 40 minutes before our scheduled departure time, it was desolate. After 15 minutes of mild freaking out, someone finally showed up and gave us our tickets. We were then squeezed into a small sprinter van with 5 other people (there are only 6 seats). So that was a nice and cosy 3 hour ride without any A/C.
Varna - Plovdiv (via train)
Arriving in Varna, we were met with insanely hot weather which we were not properly dressed for, my phone had stopped working despite being told by Vodafone that it would work without problem in Bulgaria. But, there was a perfectly legible map posted right by where we were dropped off, and we were able to successfully read it to get to our apartment for the week. Varna itself was what we call a pleasant surprise. There's a quartered off pedestrian area which leads to a large park bordering the beach. Food and drink is so cheap it's almost insulting (I'm talking $3 Lagavulin and $1 frozen margaritas. Yikes.) The architecture can only be described as mid-century beach town with a Soviet flare. Yes, please. In all its beauty, there is one dark part of Varna: the seagulls. Those little bastards were the most aggressive I've ever encountered - we even saw one snatch a slice of pizza right out of a man's hands then call all his little buddies to feast. Our neighbours had a pretty disconcerting scarecrow - scaregull? - posted up on their balcony which was an unsettling greeting each morning. We spent only a week in Varna overall, but would absolutely go back. On to Plovdiv!
Plovdiv (for 28 days)
After a pretty whirlwind week of travel and beach life, we have successfully made it to Plovdiv where we will be posted up until the first week of July. Our first few days here have been incredibly lovely. We've stumbled upon a live show in Plovdiv's First Century AD Roman amphitheatre, climbed a huge mountain to get to a large soviet statue reminiscent of Mother Motherland which we visited in Kiev last year, and have begun to explore the windy roads of the old town. I'm fairly confident that we've found a great place to spend the month - if not only because there's a walk up burrito window right outside our apartment.