A Soul-Cleansing Journey to the Black Sea…part 1

24 November 2012

For the weekend of my late November trip in Europe I brought myself to the “summer capital” of Bulgaria, Varna. Now why would I go there in late November, in the middle of its dead season? It was a journey to cleanse my soul…

As my readers know, I have been struggling mightily with my emotions over losing the love of my life. She has moved on so successfully; I have not. But I decided I needed to visit her home town (no, she’s nowhere near) and just to have the brisk air from the Black Sea ensconce me, to fully permeate my soul.

I arrived on the only off-season direct flight from Vienna and was promptly transported to a very chic hotel near the seaside. If any of you go to this little gem by the Black Sea, do check out Hotel mOdus — it is a really cool and good little hotel. As we rode there, the part of town near the sea seems utterly abandoned…

I wandered around the charming but empty town, walking around carelessly-parked cars (one of many diseases afflicting Bulgarians) and ramshackle housing, and noticed immediately, unlike the stray dog infestation problem of Sofia and so many other Balkan cities, Varna is full of stray cats…

Now I love cats, and strays love me. I remember when I lived in Estonia. The day I moved into my flat on Adamsoni, my window was open and a stray cat came in. I fed it and it visited me once every few days through my open window (even in winter, when yes, my window was still open) for more food. Then suddenly after a year it disappeared. But on the day I moved out of Estonia a year later, the cat came back one last time to say goodbye, like it knew I was leaving — and didn’t eat my food (as if it was sad). I have a strange affinity with strays. They talk to me, and they like it when I talk back…

So after wandering around, I went to the beach…abandoned on a cool day of about 7C except for some fishermen, I just stood and thought, standing on the same beach that my ex had spent so much time in her life…and the few tears that appeared was just blown away by the sea breeze…

By then I needed some food, so I wandered down the beach and found one of the few beachside cafes that was open — Makalali. I stopped for a few beers in the rather empty place (this place, as you can see from their FB page, is hopping when in season), watching a local footie match. Then I ordered a plate of their meatballs…wow. I have to say, having had meatballs in some of the most celebrated places around the world, this was one of the best I have ever had…

meatball

I know it looks boring and plain and normal, but the taste was just perfect. The blend of meats, the seasoning, the breading and so forth… It was damn good!

I was thinking of staying to have some other dishes like chicken livers or grilled sausages, but I had a big dinner planned and it was approaching 3pm, and I was still jetlagged, so I headed out. I walked back to the hotel and had a kip. This is a really cool hotel…so utilitarian and functional, and comfortable…

I woke up in time and got myself ready. I had made a booking (just in case) for the only traditional restaurant that was open around the seaside part of town — Pri Monahinite (At the Nun’s Place). Many of the other places doing traditional local grub in this part of town were shut, much to my disappointment. It seemed I didn’t need a booking, as the only other table was a quiet set of tourists from Romania…

The service was attentive and the wine flowed nicely. Bulgarian wine is underrated (often due to consistency issues, especially with exported wines and its pricing), but delicious on the ground. I began my feasting with the veal tongue in butter…

vealtongue1

You ain’t kidding this is cooked in butter. If anything, it was swimming in butter. I had a flash in my head of having to massage my chest after a ghee-heavy Indian meal… But the tongue was delicious (though had to drain it a little), extremely tender but flavourful. It was seasoned well enough to not need the butter. A good (if unhealthy) start.

With more good local red wine, I awaited my main course, the pork mixed grill with a side of grilled veggies. Now this looked darn good when it arrived, as the pork included shish, grilled loin, meatballs, and the traditional Bulgarian kebabche.

pork

The nice assortment of grilled veg (tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, aubergines) helped balance a heavy dish…oh sorry, stray piece of pork on the dish! 🙂

veg

Mmm… This was a nice feast, and I was full and happy by now. Had more wine and then switched to sample some of the local rakia. Burned going down, as does its cousin the grappa, but was wonderful and soothing. I had perhaps too many before I departed this cute little place.

To be honest I wished the menu was a little less touristy and more adventurous like I have seen in Sofia (lots of offal), but it was good. I tipped the server well, as they don’t get much biz this time of year but I appreciate them staying open and staying good. I wanderd back to the hotel and perched down at the bar and chatted with the bartenders until closing over many more a rakia…

My first day on this emotional weekend ends in a zonk…

(to be continued…with a mighty hangover…)

Makalali [Макалали]
Плажна Алея, До Кални Бани [Plazhna Aleya, Do Kalin Bali]

Pri Monakhinite [При Монахините]
47 Приморски [Primorski]
Varna [Варна], Bulgaria [България]

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One thought on “A Soul-Cleansing Journey to the Black Sea…part 1

  1. Pingback: A Soul-Cleansing Journey to the Black Sea…part 2 | melhuang1972

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