Friday, 30 June 2017

Bulgaria, June 2017 Part 5 The Grand Tour

For once the weather forecast proved accurate. Well not quite accurate but they had the right idea. The rain had other thoughts and it was 10 times heavier than expected. We watched the downpour from the bedroom balcony and it reminded me of when our home town got flooded twenty or so years ago it was that heavy. To make matters worse it was announced on the news that North Wales and the whole of the UK was in the middle of a heat wave.
At least we'd reserved the car so off we went after breakfast ( what no music? no conditioning today? As it happened the animation team get a day off it seems. They'd be cursing their luck too!)
First we headed south to the Turkish border which is only a few kilometres away and on passing through a two man checkpoint they appeared surprised to see anyone the rain was coming down that heavily. They waved us through and we continued on to the border village of Rezevo where the road comes to an end. Apparently there is a wildlife park in the vicinity but a) I had left my gear at the hotel deliberately as this was a trip for Claire as well as me and b) there was a sign up saying no photography.
Rezovo, the Turkish Border
We sat for 20 minutes looking at the biggest flag I have ever seen whilst the rain eased off. Of course this shot wasn't taken by me using my pocket camera, it's one I found on the internet.
Heading back north were waved through the checkpoint without the two smiling guards bothering to come out of the sentry hut and who would blame them. It was raining again and our car was too small to put anyone in the boot.
We decided to head to Tsarevo further up the coast from Sinemoretz. It proved to be a decent sized town but a quick look was enough to convince us to continue on to Sozopol which is an old seaside town and tourist magnet. Very quaint it is too. 
We ignored the first huge parking area which appeared to be extremely busy, particularly with coaches off loading tour groups heading up the cobbled streets in to town. Instead we continued along the waterfront. At the end there was a circular turning area to head back again but there was also a small street heading up the hill. A policewoman on duty made no attempt to stop us so we headed up that direction.
Although there were other vehicles parked we were the only one moving and we were soon driving through narrow cobbled streets that were full of pedestrians.
We edged our way through the masses and after passing through the main square we thought we had found a way out of the place only to find that pillars in the road prevented traffic entering... and worse still, us getting out!
I had to return through the masses and back in to the square only to find to my horror the road we had entered town on was a one way street . Well it had to be I suppose it was very narrow. We took one of two alternatives and despite all the people, prams, pushchairs and other obstacles, got splendid views of all the old buildings and famous wooden houses. It must have taken 15 minutes driving various streets when Claire announced we were actually heading back down to the square on the street we had entered on.
People dining in the pavement cafes were giving us that look which suggests all isn't quite what's expected.
i.e Who are these idiots?!
We were even more embarrassed now but after another 10 minutes we found a car that was reversing before taking a left turn.
Instinct told me to "follow that car" and it proved right. Taking turns we would never have found we followed him out of the old town breathing a sigh of relief having done so.
We never did set foot in the place though nor take a single photo which was a shame.
Instead we headed back home as the weather had improved and the sun was out again.
More food, more drinks, more sleep and it was day two of the hire car.
I wanted to check out the countryside heading in to the mountains  hoping to show Claire some similar beautiful scenes to ones I had witnessed on previous visits .
It was incredibly hot now and the road was flanked by deep forest with little to see other than trees. We abandoned the idea and headed back to the hotel returning the car at lunchtime.
The manager told me had he known I was a birdwatcher he could have told me where to go. Burgas!
I know all about Burgas and the possibilities  having been there and I also explained that, at 90kms, it was too far away to enjoy the best light of the day. Besides, Claire would not have been amused to find herself watching me taking endless photos!
Instead I took another walk along the back of the beach to see what was lurking!
The wind was quite strong so the sea was choppy but it was also looking quite muddy as a result of the rains the day before.
The Black Sea    Bulgaria
The sun however was beaming down once more.
One butterfly I always recognise was enjoying it too.
Peacock Butterfly
The pools in the track had grown substantially and in places difficult to get past due to the way the track cut through the undergrowth but onwards I went. I had hardly taken a photo in 48 hours so I had withdrawal symptoms.
I'd settle for anything again.
649A8906you name it
Flowers, Bees,unknown Damselfly like creatures.
There was certainly lots of insect life around as there usually is when it's been raining.
There were  Grasshoppers everywhere providing a feast for the birds.
Red-backed Shrike   Lanius collurio
and this Shrike had had it's attention drawn elsewhere enabling me to get a bit closer than my previous visit here.
The birds I was really after though were the Golden Orioles I had seen flitting around distant tree tops  when I had been here before. After some searching I located a tree that held at least two pairs but they insisted on staying way up high.
My best effort of the male.
Eurasian Golden Oriole    Oriolus oriolus
The female possibly slightly better but neither will win a competition. By now the insects had turned the tables and i was the victim. I was being attacked by mosquitos so I abandoned what I perceived to be a fairly hopeless mission.
Eurasian Golden Oriole    Oriolus oriolus
Orioles have a reputation for being difficult to photograph so with hindsight this one I got on my visit in 2015 wasn't as disappointing as I thought at the time!
Golden Oriole   Bulgaria
Hey, the birding was secondary really. It was a sunshine break for Claire that mattered.
With the weather much warmer than it had been on previous evenings we ventured out to sit by the pool for drinks both before and after dinner. Sadly in a smoke filled atmosphere on the outside dining area eating was confined to indoors.
That however put me closer to the buffet area and temptation.
A huge range of salad, cooked meats and cheese to start, pasta , pizza and burgers for the kids and 3 or 4 hot dishes to choose from for mains.
Then there were the sweets. Those delicious filo pasty and honey delicacies, cream cakes, ice cream.
It was all too much to resist.
The only thing that helped me restrain myself was looking around at some of the people loading their plates.
There were more Hippo's in here than you'd ever see on safari. 
Claire assured me I had a long way to go to catch up.... so I continued eating everything that took my fancy promising a diet when I got home.

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