So we’re back in Bulgaria. Not quite the same place as last year, actually it’s next door to last year’s hotel and a bit nicer too. Okay, so it’s still full of Germans — as is the resort itself — and you’re certain to be addressed first as “Mein Herr”, but the order of the day is still plenty of hot sun and even more cheap beer. The first, being the proverbial pasty white Anglo-Saxon, I try to steer clear of, smothering myself in Factor Gazillion sunscreen and hiding under a beach umbrella. The second … well, let’s just say I’m keeping up the points on my CAMRA card.
But it’s not quite the same place as last year. The weather is better, sure. And the plants look greener: I guess Bulgaria’s been getting at least some of the rain that Old Blighty’s had all year. But it’s a lot busier than at the same time last year. That’s probably the Global Economic Meltdown: part people wanting to find a bit of a bargain in a country that’s as likely to descend into unrest and terrorism as the Isles of Scilly and part in seeking a refuge from the constant barrage of over-hyped bad news stories that you find everywhere. That could explain why there are so many Germans here: it must be the only place in Greater Europe they haven’t had to bail out yet.
Or could it be a folk memory? Wanting to visit all the places that Urgrossvater Heinrich spent his summers (and winters) back in 41-44? Heaven knows the Bulgarians seem ambivalent to their European patrons; after all, between 41 and 44 they were allies of Germany until the Red Army marched in to “liberate” them in September 1944. Judging by the respect that the average Bulgarian gives to the monstrous war memorials erected to that liberation in almost every big city here I wouldn’t take up offers of a bunting franchise in time for the 70th anniversary in 2014.
We’re again in Sunny Beach, the sprawling resort created by the Soviets after the war for the “trusted” few to take a “foreign” holiday in a place where they could be “trusted” not to flee to the West. For a long time now, however, the Black Sea coast resorts have been as western as any Mediterranean town and the hotels are as good as any you’ll find on the Costas (at a lot less costa, geddit!?)
The Russians are still here but the apparatchiks have been replaced by the St Petersburg chicks roaming the beach topless (I see boobies … everywhere!) on a girls-only holiday out to top up such a tan as to make those left in the office feel green. There aren’t many lobster-people here — as I said, the Brits are in a minority — but there are enough mahogany-coloured folks to make David Dickinson feel a bit anaemic. At least when they die, riddled with secondary cancers brought on by malignant melanomas (SCCs – this detail is on the insistence of my better third @berberis), they can feel appropriately smug as they donate their bodies to DFS to appear as a rather nice Chesterfield in the latest sale event.
My wife is also trying to top up her tan but as she works as a medical secretary dealing with dermatology cases she is perhaps over-cautious about sun exposure, however, that didn’t stop her overdoing it a bit yesterday leaving a little pink patch on the small of her back (in the bit she couldn’t reach). She is now happily wearing bikinis she wouldn’t have dared to a year ago — and sometimes only the bottom half. This is partly because in the intervening 12 months she has joined a gym and partly because last year we saw so many examples of women wearing bikinis who just shouldn’t, that she now has greater confidence that she won’t be pointed out as some sort of freak. After all what size 12/14 woman doesn’t feel like that?
As I said, I’m hiding under sunscreen and parasols watching the boobies, and not all of them on women which makes me feel less of a freak. And I’m back writing this blog, partly because it’s the first free time I’ve had in months what with all this business travel: Washington one week, Singapore the next. It’s almost like I don’t know my Witchita from my Wolverhampton.
The other reason is that there is much here to record and comment about which doesn’t include bounce rates (apart from the obvious pun), drop-off (that one too) and entry and exit points (this is getting silly).
If you’re interested, watch this space.