Hi guys! I'm writing this post on my phone from a cafe in Varna following a very emotional rollercoaster over the last 24 hours. What lead me to book a trip to Varna is almost as ridiculous as what has taken place since I've landed but hear me out.
You see, I went on an amazing trip recently to Greece with two awesome Greek pals and we had a whale of a time. I met lots of awesome new people during this trip, one of which I met at a beach bar. His job was to take orders from those of us living the life of luxury on the sun loungers (which George and I certainly were) and when I looked up from my book to see his upside down face above mine as he tried to discreetly slip a receipt on my table, I was like erm... What are you doing?!
We became friends after that. He hung out with us a couple times and then George and I left the island of Thassos.
Sakis and I stayed in touch for a while during which time I found out he was studying in Varna. So when a month or so later, he invited me to Bulgaria, I was all "well I've met this guy like twice, I don't really know him at all, but flights are cheap so, whatever!" I booked them... Yeah I know, I really shouldn't do these things.
So the running joke with my colleagues has been that I'll go to Varna and get trafficked by this guy who was clearly seeing an opportunity to nab a solo traveller - Taken style. And, though I've made many travel buddies in my time, I was kinda sorta starting to believe it myself! But I wasn't going to waste a flight, so even when we lost touch over the following weeks, I still set my mind to go. Because, why not?!
Fast forward to the day of the flight, I hadn't actually been in touch with Sakis for a while by this point and I realised, I hadn't really paid much thought to planning the trip. Like at all. I'd had so much else going on in my life that I didn't really have time to plan anything out. I was working during day and my flight was in the evening, so I packed a small rucksack to take in with me so I could head straight to the airport after work.
The whole drive to the airport I'm thinking, "why am I even going? It was just a silly whim, the flights were so cheap, I could totally just not go?" But the part of me that's clearly addicted to adventure was all like, "no, you're going!".
So I showed up at Luton airport casually an hour before my flight and my emotions switched quickly between severe anxiety of the unknown and excitement of exploring a new city. I kept thinking of things that I really should have thought about weeks ago.
"What is the Bulgarian currency?"
"What food do they eat in Bulgaria?"
"What language do they speak?"
"How much money will I need for the week?"
"What's the weather going to be like?"
Well I guess I was about to find out! XD
So taking off, the plane engine was making an unholy noise and I thought, "maybe I'll die before I even get a chance to be trafficked in Varna." It's strangely not a totally uncomfortable thought at the time!
I tried to sleep a little, no idea how long the flight would be. Next thing, I get a tap on my shoulder; I had to let someone out of their seat. Sleep was not an option, so I decided to do what I literally never do and speak to the person sitting next to me. Unheard of, speaking to the person you're going to be stuck next to for the best part of 3 hours!
He was a medical student from London but studying in Varna. He was a useful person to know as he hooked me up with the cheapest taxis and all the information I should have obtained about Varna in advance.
"There's a party at the university tomorrow night if you want to sneak in?" He invited.
I reminded myself that I look several years younger than I actually am and thought, heck, why not! So we exchanged details.
We played monopoly deal the rest of the flight (I'd like to say I kicked ass but I was owned really) and when we landed he escorted me literally to my hostel door, going out of his own way, before heading back to his.
The only problem was, my hostel didn't have a 24 hour reception. And at 3:30 in the morning, nothing was open! I was screwed!
I'm going to make a small confession here, and I hope you don't judge me, but imma just let you know that after looking for an open bar for a while and having no luck, I peed on the streets. What are you going to do about it?
As I was peeing, I was thinking, this is it. This is my life now. I live on the streets. It was a low point.
I had a selection of benches to choose from, it was dark, I'm going to say cold because it sounds dramatic, but it wasn't really, and there wasn't another human in sight (probably a good thing).
Before completely resigning to my bench for the night I sent out a last resort message to my new plane friend, fully realising I also don't know him and could also totally get trafficked that way. But I figured this was a low point for me anyway, lifelong slavery in prostitution seemed like a step up at this stage (joking obviously and please you guys, support the amazing charities that work hard to put a stop to modern day slavery like Stop the Traffick and Hope for Justice).
He replied offering me a very small and uncomfortable sofa that I am INCREDIBLY grateful for! Seriously, this guy is an actual hero!
I got in a good few hours sleep and the next morning after he head out for university, his girlfriend helped me find my route to the nearest mall and here I am.
You guys, I have no idea what the next seven days will have in store, but I've already made two friends, peed on the streets and crashed on a stranger's sofa- so I think it's going to be a good one!