Sunday, September 15, 2013

Varna, seaside playground for Eastern Europe

Varna is a small coastal city located on the Black Sea and offers an affordable beach getaway for many Bulgarians as well as tourists from Romania,  Ukraine and Russia.The beaches weren't as crowded as other places and there are bars and restaurants for almost any taste.

Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic alphabet and not many people speak English, making it a little more difficult to get around than normal. However, many people are friendly and a good attitude with a little effort usually got us results.

The food is delicious and by far the least expensive so far on this trip. Lunch at the Happy Beach Bar (Trip Advisor 4.5 star) was $20 for two and a three course meal with a bottle of wine at the elegant White House Restaurant set us back $35.

Bottom line, I will definitely return to Varna again. The country side is lovely, people are friendly and the prices, for now, are very low compared to the rest of Europe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Brasov, gateway to Dracula's castle

Brasov (pronounced Brashov) is the nearest train stop to visit Bran Castle, home of the legendary Vlad the Impaler in Transylvania, Romania. Brasov is the capital of the region and surprised us by having rock concerts in the council square. It felt as if he whole population attended the concert and had the cheapest beer In Romania. 
The Festival 39 restaurant was a hidden gem found in the center of Brasov. Stepping inside transported us back to the 1920's with luxurious silk and leather seats, blues and jazz music playing and the best service received in any of the restaurants during this trip. The food was a eccentric fusion of Mexican, Chine and traditional Romanian dishes that was delicious and affordable.

Bran Castle is one hour by bus from Brasov. The crowds and souvenir shops reminded me of the ending of the cartoon movie "Hotel Transylvania" where the monsters greeted were by tourists. The castle is cute and there was a cultural festival at the bottom of the castle where we had some of the delicious local sausages and pork chops. 

This castle may or may not have been the inspiration for Dracula but it certainly is worthe visiting 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fine dining in Bucharest

Bucuresti, the capital of Romania, has an interesting mix of grand old buildings and communist era construction. Some of the buildings are enormous like the Parliament building which is second only to the Pentagon in office capacity. Others are classic like the Athenaeunul where classical concerts are performed.

There is an excellent area next to the university full of charming and quite affordable restaurants and bars. Our favorites were the Caru Cu Bere and Hanul Manuc