Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 26: Varna, Bulagaria
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Day 22: Athens, Greece
Day 23: Athens, Greece
Day 24: Cruise Begins
Day 25: Cruise at Sea
Day 26: Varna, Bulagaria
Day 27: Odessa, Ukraine
Day 28: Constanta, Romania




MS Rotterdam


Mix of haze and sun  with a high of 24įC

Day 26: Saturday, September 30, 2006     Varna, Bulgaria

Beautiful Iron Curtain Country

Currency:   Bulgarian lev
Language:  Bulgarian

Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria with its population of 314,539 people.  The city of Varna is about thousand years old. In 1393 it was captured by the Turks, who made it an important military centre. It is widely called the seaside capital of Bulgaria as it is the biggest city at the Bulgarian coast. Varna is over 11 km long, while its width, including newly erected residential quarters, is nearly 9km. The city's structure resembles an amphitheatre as it follows the curves of the Bay of Varna. It is surrounded by gardens, vineyards and groves. Sailors on shore-leave in unfamiliar ceremonial uniforms, mingle with foreign tourists and locals as they promenade along shady boulevards, lined by dignified 19th and early 20th century buildings.

After breakfast we caught a tour bus from the ship into the Cathedral of the Assumption. The 19th century Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin is an imposing landmark, which contains a finely carved iconostasis and bishop's throne, some interesting murals and stained glass.  While we were at the church we had the good fortune to hear three priest tenors singing a beautiful song. I don't know if 

it was the acoustics in the church but it was the sweetest singing I have every heard.  We toured the church and took a few photos. 

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin

It was such a nice day that we decided to walk back to the ship.  We browsed through the local farmers' market in the Mitropolite Square and then continued on to the lovely Nezavjsimost Square with its huge coral-coloured Stoyan Bachvarov Dramatic Theatre  and Opera House and tiled pavement.  Although this part of Varna was very nice and modern, we saw other beautiful buildings that had fallen into neglect with chipped painting, etc.  A little further along we came across the ruins of the large Roman Baths or Thermae.  Not only are they the largest in Bulgaria but the third largest in the world. They were

Opera house and Nezavjsimost Square

built in the 2nd century AD and excavated between 1959 and í71. Their size acts as proof of the cities wealth and importance at the time.

We then headed east towards the water and found the huge Primorski Park.  Stretching along the coast for close to 5 miles itís said to be the biggest seaside park in Europe and itís a popular place to take a break from the city's historical attractions. Itís also really popular with families especially during the summer months.  We came across another road race in the park although this one

Ken dipping his toes in the Black Sea

wasn't as large as the Berlin marathon and appeared to be some kind of team event.  We walked back along the beach and Ken took off his shoes and walked in the Black Sea.  One possible explanation for its name comes from the colour of the Black Sea's deep waters. Being further north than the Mediterranean Sea and much less saline, the microalgae concentration is much more rich, hence the dark colour. Visibility in the Black Sea is on average approximately five m, as compared to up to thirty-five m in the Mediterranean.

We finished our walk back to the ship and spent the last part of the afternoon laying in the sun on by the Sea View pool on the ship before the ship sailed at 5:00 pm.  Dinner dress was casual and we went to the Queen's Lounge after to watch comedian Marty Brill perform. 

Click here for a slide show of Day 26 photos.

Day 27

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