We slept in the open air on the rocks so we were awake at 6 in the morning fresh as a sea cucumber. It was cloudy and damp; we could not dry the damp sleeping bags and clothes. Even if it did not rain, there was a heavy dew in the evening and even more at dawn. We were however fully compensated for he lack of sunshine by the calm sea. The sea felt like oil, the kayaks were gliding smoothly in it.
I could even take pictures underwater.
After a few hours of effortless paddling, we reached Balchik, a scenic historic town. It felt good to see something more historic than the hotels built in the communism or the period after that. The scene was peppered with Bulgaria’s current small entrepreneurs selling everything from ice cream, inflatable puppies, some private toilet time, shade of umbrellas in the sandy beach to sandwiches.
In Balchik there is a palace built in the 1930ies for Queen Marie of Romania, when this region was part of Romania. It draws huge crowds so we just checked it out from the water (see the palace above).
A side note on camping out in Bulgaria: you can set up camp practically anywhere, even on a golf course (we were spotted on the golf course, but nobody told us to move on). You can also go practically anywhere, nobody really cares. It is the freedom of a post-communist country not yet over-regulated and split up into parcels of guarded private property. It feels like freedom.
After Balchik we reached Albena, the first real resort in Bulgaria. It felt very touristy with the huge hotels, and the animator shouting in Bulgarian for some corporate event. Barni told me that kayaking here feels like a cowboy approaching a town on his horse in the wild west. Are we going in and grab’em by the…? Or just move on?
We headed for the last restaurant on this stretch of beach to be out of reach of the animator and his megaphone, and to meet people more down-to-earth or grounded as Barni put it. It was our strategy throughout the trip to search for places on the peripheries. It feels less formal and more adventurous.
We found out again that two beers are too much for efficient paddling, but it did not really matter. It started to rain anyway as we pushed closer to Varna, the first big city on the way with a lot of activity on the water. Huge hotels started popping up like the giant in the picture above. It felt like paddling in Dubai.
We did not check in here, but asked the workers renovating a small pub at the beach next to this one if they could give us some shelter against the rain. No problem, so we stayed overnight in a small shed.
We paddled for 35 km on this day at an average speed of 5.5 kmh. The result: