Join the Monkey on a slow meander down Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast toward Turkey, in these photos from 2002.
Sozopol is one of the prettiest towns in all of Bulgaria. Its old town, on a rocky peninsula extending into the Black Sea, is filled with narrow, cobblestone streets and beautiful Bulgarian National Revival houses featuring the thrusting wooden support beams for upper storeys that the Monkey is seen inspecting in this photo. Sozopol hosts the Apollonia festival, a music and theater extravaganza, at the start of each September. If you find yourself in Bulgaria then, the Monkey recommends heading to Sozopol for the festivities.
The Monkey rests on a bench on Sozopol’s Kyril i Metodi Street.
South of Sozopol there are innumerable small coves, fjords and rocky beaches where swimming, sunbathing and mussel-gathering are the preferred activities. Here a lone boat awaits its unmooring and the Monkey takes in the serene surroundings.
Near the Arkutino marshlands along the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, the Monkey encountered a bizarre symbol of the end of Communism. Championed by Cultural Minister Lyudmila Zhivkova, daughter of the longtime Bulgarian Communist Premier Todor Zhivkov, this massive, modern complex on the beach was intended to be an international Communist youth camp. But as the Communist regime crumbled in 1991, work on the project came to an abrupt halt.
As far as the Monkey can tell, no one has thought of a new use for the structure or put up the funds to complete the building. And so it stands empty and half-finished, boxes of rusting nails and concrete mix littering the interior. This concrete pile at Arkutino stands as an eerie monument to the unforeseen end of the Communist era.
Maimunka looks back from Arkutino’s sand dunes at the Communists’ abandoned project. The construction crane left in place is particularly symbolic of the rapidity with which Communist rule evaporated in 1991.
The Monkey poses from inside Lyudmila Zhivkova’s bizarre beachfront development (seen above). Behind him is the still unspoilt (and always uncrowded) beach at Arkutino. The trees in the distance form part of the Ropotamo nature reserve, a riverine system feeding into the Black Sea.
Rezovo is the last coastal town in Bulgaria before Turkey. Someone decided to build a small chapel, to which these bells the Monkey is admiring belong, on the seafront cliffs above the crescent-shaped beach that forms the border with Turkey. It’s all a bit of fun, really, as relations between the Turks and the Bulgarians are about the best they’ve ever been. Bulgaria aspires to NATOdom, which the Turks already have, and Turkey aspires to be in the European Union, which Bulgaria has already joined. Belatedly, these Balkan neighbors are realizing how they may be of mutual benefit to each other.
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