The Irony of Sunny Beach

Once we’d finally made it to Bulgaria we weren’t really too sure what to expect. We were relieved to finally be on holiday and keen to enjoy the scorching heat of a European summer holiday at Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. That was until we saw the weather. It was decidedly overcast, and we were ever hopeful that the skies would clear and we’d be blessed with sunshine.

Sadly it was a bit of a vain hope. Our first overcast day brought heat and humidity. If it had stayed that way we would have been happy enough however as the holiday sped by the weather got much worse. The first day and evening were the best of the holiday. We managed to lounge by the pool, explore the beachfront and once we’d reached the evening we even managed to discover a few bars and try out a few (many) cocktails.

By this time cocktails had become my favourite way to drink, so much so that at birthdays and Christmas the most sensible presents to get me were a decent set of cocktail glasses, all the jiggers, shakers and measures imaginable and if all else fails a cocktail recipe book. I favour vodka or tequila based concoctions since I’m not fond of gin or rum but I’ll pretty much give anything a try. In a bit of an aside, I find it really hard these days to understand anyone who says they don’t drink. Even though growing up I was that person, I solemnly swore off alcohol and claimed that I’d never enjoy it in a million years… now it’s my favourite hobby, second now only to writing I guess.

We armed ourself with a little local knowledge. Firstly that unlike other places throughout Europe it would be silly to expect the locals to have good English, if you stuck to the main touristy places you’d be Ok without the lingo and we got by just fine. Secondly the whole nodding and shaking of the head thing, which is a good thing to be aware of when you’re struggling with a language barrier. Left to right means Yes, up and down means No. You find you overthink this simple action when you’re there and end up smiling like a buffoon whenever you’re interacting with someone.

We had a grand total of four days since we missed our flight so we wanted to make sure we made the most of our time in Bulgaria. Out first day was the best of the holiday, the weather was acceptable and we managed to turn a little pink. We were staying at the Helena hotel which was right on the beach and a short walk from the main hustle and bustle of the resort.

The walk along the seafront was interesting, every couple hundred meters there would be a person with an animal of some kind waiting to ambush you and charge you to have your photo taken with them. This was Ok when the animal was a cute little monkey, or a tiny baby alligator we admired the creatures from a far not wanting to be parted from our cash for such an insignificant souvenir. Then we saw the Britney snakes… poor Heidi. My fear is spiders and I’m sure if any of the guys were sporting tarantulas I would have ran fast as I could past them, Heidi’s fear was snakes.

When we saw the first one it caught us off guard and by the time Heidi had noticed it was there we had already frogmarched her past it and it was no longer in sight. What we hadn’t realised is that this would repeat every few hundred meters down the road and the guys with them were pushy, they would almost chase you down the street with the snakes or attempt to drape them around your neck without any kind of encouragement. It was a bit of an annoyance after a while, possibly not helped by the shaking/nodding head confusion which you completely forget when you’re paralysed with fear.In the end every couple hundred meters we’d spot a snake in the distance and attempt to power walk past them. It was the only thing to be done.

On that first day we met with a rep at our hotel. Since our holiday had been shortened we had more money than really needed for a four day stay. So we looked at booking ourselves onto some excursions. Daryl and I booked ourselves onto a boat trip, it was a catamaran day out to go searching for dolphins, I was a little bit excited about the idea. Heidi and Lara booked themselves onto a jeep safari that would take them up into the mountains nearby. Our excursions were scheduled for the same day so we’d be reunited in the evening and go for dinner. At least we’d have something to write home about if our holiday were long enough to send a postcard and actually not arrive home before the post.

The first night there we went to explore the bars on the beach front. While we were out in the day we’d seen several places selling cocktails and I was happy to explore what was on offer. After just an hour out at the first bar we happened to find Lara was complaining of a headache and wanted to head back to our room. Now I had two options, first I could be the super-awesome girlfriend and go back to our room with her and dutifully look after her until she was feeling better or, I could stay out with Heidi and Daryl and continue drinking since the hours were ticking by at an alarming rate and I did want to miss a moment of this holiday.

Well, needless to say I aborted my habit of being the dutiful girlfriend, for the first time (maybe ever) I put myself first. I sent Lara back to our room and said to keep her phone by her since I’d need her to let me in when we got back and I wouldn’t want to wake everyone in the hotel by banging on the door. After we’d seen her back to the hotel I turned to the guys with a wicked smile on my face, the drinking could start now.

I’d made an effort to dress well, by well I simply mean better than usual. I was wearing a white and orange maxi dress that really showed off my boobs, some nice flip-flops and a shrug since it had gotten cooler in the evening. Getting your boobs out on holiday, or generally anywhere really is a great way to get served quickly at a bar, it’s like a universal language. The three of us didn’t get too far that night after about three bars down the coast we stopped for a while and had a few cocktails.

I ordered a ‘Screaming Orgasm’ from a cheeky barman who recommended it when I requested something fruity and full of vodka. What I was presented with was what looked suspiciously like sex on the beach with a tonne of whipped cream, a glazed cherry and the final garnish, a big veiny fleshy dildo. What the actual f*ck?! I cracked up at the sight of it, so did Heidi and Daryl and in no time the camera was whipped out to snap my puzzled expression as I pondered what to do with such a ‘wonderfully’ presented cocktail. Now is probably a good time to mention that I despise whipped cream, it was over to Daryl to dispose of the cream and remove the phallus to protect mine and Heidi’s innocence.

It wasn’t long afterwards that we called it a night, I wasn’t drunk and it didn’t quite feel right to be out all night if Lara was back in our room suffering with a headache. We planned to have a more raucous night out when the four of us could experience everything Sunny Beach had to offer together. When we got back to the hotel I did in fact have to bang on the door before Lara let me in, it seemed she’d fallen asleep far beyond the realms of being woken by a text message. I climbed into bed a little tipsy and thinking that this holiday would be quite fun after all.

Then we woke up the next day, all four of us eager to be going on our excursions only to find that it was raining. It was miserable and no sooner as we got to reception Daryl and I had discovered that our afternoon out on the catamaran had been cancelled. We got a full refund as the trip wouldn’t run again for the duration of our stay. Daryl and I instead thought we catch up on our reading and if the rain let up we’d try and make the most of the dry spells by going out locally to explore. Heidi and Lara were still on course for their jeep safari.

About an hour after they had departed on their jeep safari they returned, it seemed the weather was so bad that they couldn’t even get an off-road vehicle up a mountain. Rather than have their whole excursion cancelled the company that had attempted to take them out offered a second attempt the following day. Daryl and I considered joining them since ours had gone bust. It proved to be a vain hope, the weather was equally poor the following day and we were beginning to wonder if we were going to see the sun again the whole time we were there.

We did however see the sun again, on our fourth and last day. It dried up on our last night and we ventured into Sunny Beach and hopped from bar to bar enjoying many cocktails, gigantic pizza slices, sugared doughnuts and anything else you might feast on as you ambled up and down the shore. We found a karaoke bar, and despite my addiction I didn’t feel enticed to sing, mostly because there were only us four and another couple in the bar… we waited for a while to see if it was going to get busy but it never did and before too long we moved on.

We bought ourselves some souvenirs on the last day, I got my brother a penis shaped bottle opener since the last time Ryan went on holiday he bought me some amazing strawberry liqueur, which he knew I’d love, however it was in a penis shaped bottle, which he knew I’d hate. See, he has a wonderful sense of humour, so this was my pay back. I don’t usually buy souvenirs when I’m on holiday, I prefer to blow any left over money on alcohol.

All too soon it was time to go home again, the obvious irony of Sunny Beach was that for us, it hadn’t been sunny at all. We all left thinking that we hadn’t really seen the best that Bulgaria had to offer. If we’d been there the full week we all would have liked to take advantage of  the day trip to Sofia. I think it’s safe to say that not much more could have gone wrong throughout this holiday, it was a bit of a relief to get back to the UK without any further incidents to worry about. The drive back to Somerset was uneventful, once home of course we were informed of the delightful heat wave they had all experienced while we were away and that everyone in the UK seemed to have a better suntan than us four.

It was a great to know that the next holiday was already booked, than in just a few short months we’d be off to the Canaries. I began to think of this as an omen, the Bulgaria holiday went to pot because I was already looking forward to the next one too much. Ever since then I’ve been a bit suspicious about only booking one holiday at a time. Yet now with my current travel plans that superstition has proved to be short lived.

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