Sometimes you arrive somewhere and all you can think is “I’ve fucked up, I’ve fucked up so bad.” This is a story that makes you pay attention to the words ‘off season’.
The trip to Sunny Beach should have been a pretty good indicator for how the rest of the time there was going to be. The train journey should have been simple enough but it turned out that every railway (or what seemed like) in Romania was getting upgrades at the same time. Around of a quarter of the way there we were transferred onto a crappy old bus for the rest of the journey.
When were arrived in Sunny Beach we were met with a scene out of every post-apocalyptic movie you have ever seen. No traffic, no people, traffic lights flashing yellow and roads flooded with water due to drainage being blocked. So we got off our bus and started the walk to the hotel we’d booked. Along the way our impression only got worse. Now we were passing boarded up buildings, half finished constructions and stray dogs and cats. Finally we reached an open supermarket. Civilisation! Maybe not so much. The old men sitting out the front could have been sitting there with shotguns in rocking chairs for all the warmness they were giving off. So we continued along the half flooded streets towards where our hotel should be.
Right on nightfall we arrived at the hotel, and fuck yes it existed! But, reception didn’t. We were greeted by a couple of confused security guards who let us know that reception didn’t exist in broken English and they weren’t too good at hiding they fact they thought it was hilarious we were visiting Sunny Beach in the middle of winter. Apparently even if it’s a nice looking place, if you can’t swim it’s not worth visiting. After showing them our reservation and a quick phone call they produced a set of keys from their office and led us into the complex. The only way to describe it was eerie. Small speakers disguised as rocks in the gardens played this unsettling elevator music and the swimming pools were abandoned green ponds full of leaves and other detritus. We were the only apartment in use in around 600, which was more obvious that night when we had the only lights turned on.
Now came the time to venture out to try and find some food. I wouldn’t say it was scary but it would have been much more comfortable if I was carrying a machete or some other kind of weapon. Maybe I’ve watched too many movies, it was probably more safe than a functioning city, but there is something truly unsettling wondering around a city that’s almost completely dark, with even street lights out and no light from the sky due to heavy cloud. The only illumination was the neon hotel signs.
Eventually by walking down the main road we finally found an open restaurant and they looked as surprised to see us as we were to find them. The food was great as well which was a good success considering the situation.
We really lorded it up for the next couple of days, having a beach to yourself can really make you feel a lot richer than reality. Exploring the UNESCO town of Nessebar was beautiful and in between the drizzly depressing weather we managed to catch a spectacular sunset over the ocean.