Are you planning to go to Bulgaria for your holiday? To a summer resort near Burgas?
If you don’t want to remember only the way to the beach and evening promenade afterwards then you should explore the surroundings and go for a trip – here you have some tips.
If you like romantic trips
St. Anastasia Island
The island – which is located just 1,6 km off Burgas – is accessible via boat services running back and forth multiple times a day in the summer. If you walk through the beautiful park Sea Garden in Burgas you will get to the legendary bridge from 1936. At the end of the bridge is the boat station.
It is a volcanic rock island with a length of 120 meters only, a width of 60 and a height of 12 meters. Although the island is small there is a lighthouse built in 1914, a church, a monastery (today a modern multimedia museum), a small hotel, restaurant, café and a natural tea house.
The Christian saint and martyr St. Anastasia (3. C BC) has long been venerated as a healer. You can see several icons with her here. She is always holding some of her attributes in her hands: a palm branch, sword, scissors or a medicine pot.
Between 1959 and 1990 all Bulgarians knew this place as Bolshevik Island. During the difficult twenties of the 20th century, the monastery was turned into a prison, where 132 communists were exiled. It became the Bulgarian Alcatraz. In 1925, 43 prisoners managed to escape with two rowing boats and through Istanbul, they got to Odessa where they became victims of Stalin’s reprisals.
But the history of the island is much older. The first written document mentioning it is from 1553. There are also many legends, especially about pirates from the Caucasus who plundered rich towns on the Black Sea coast and attacked the island several times as well. According to one of those legends, the monks took out an icon of Saint Anastasia, prayed to her and saved themselves from the raid. A heavy storm started and the pirate ship turned in stone. The fossilized ship is still there, washed round by sea waves.
You will find also a fossilized dragon and mushroom. And of course, there must be a pirate treasure hidden somewhere on the island – a fictional one is a part of the museum exposition and the real one still has to be discovered. Your guide will helpfully show you a mysterious entrance to the underground…
On the island, you can sunbathe, make a picnic or have lunch in a restaurant where you can choose a meal from the traditional Bulgarian cuisine – e.g. the “shopska” salad or the cold summer soup tarator. You should definitely try the desert “Captain’s courage” with a green fig on its top (this kind of fruit preserve made of whole figs is very common in the region).
It is possible to spend the night on the island, there is a very nice renovated hotel. And you might meet the lighthouse keeper who could let you peep into his working place.
The romantic island is also famous for having hosted Rangel Valchanov’s film “On the Small Island” and Kamen Kalev’s “The Island”, also starring Laetitia Casta.
More info: here
If you like nature
Cruise on the Ropotamo river
According to a legend, there was a beautiful goddess Ro. Pirates were so much enchanted by her beauty and singing that they were persuaded to leave this territory without fighting. That’s how the name of the river was created – Ro means “to run” and potamo – “river”. The Ropotamo flows into the Black Sea between the two well-known summer resorts Primorsko and Dyuni.
The cruise on the river is a very pleasant diversification of hot summer days, especially if your back got already sunburnt and you need to take a short rest from the sun. There is always a refreshing breeze during the cruise. The lower section of the Ropotamo is a nature reserve and a tourist attraction because of the water lilies but never mind if they are not in blossom during your visit – you can see some other plants in this protected area as well as raptors and water birds looking for fish, frogs or some insects.
On the trunks of fallen trees, there are always some turtles warming their carapaces in the sun. You will not miss also the magnificent rock formation “Lion’s head” which reminds of an Egyptian sphinx and is visible from far away.
More info: here
Birds watching in the protected area Poda
In 1989 a group of enthusiastic ornithologists united themselves in the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and was provided with the Mandra lake area for management by the Department of the Environment.
The name of the site comes from the word “pod” meaning a wooden raft that was used here for sailing until the beginning of the 20th century. On its just 1 km² surface Poda shelters 273 bird species, which is more than one-third of all species recorded in Europe.
One of the main migration flyways in Europe, known as the Via Pontica (Via pontica was an ancient Roman road along the Black Sea coastline going through Thrace – today Bulgaria) passes over Burgas and the Poda Protected Site. Birds use the hot air flow and fly through the air corridor with a width of 40 km above this area. Some of them make a one day or one month stop, the other ones spend the entire summer here.
The birds find enough food in the swamps, rest on small artificial islands, nest and brood. After that, they continue on their flight to Africa. There are storks, herons, spoonbills, cormorants, pelicans from the Danube delta, ibises, buzzards, grebes, geese, ducks, Eastern imperial eagles, vultures, etc. The area is the only place in Bulgaria where the colony of the Great Cormorant is situated on abandoned high-voltage electric pillars. Inside the visitor’s center you can visit an ornithological exposition. Outside on the observation terrace, you can peep through a telescope and observe the birds without disturbing them.
Birds pass through this area at any time in the year but in August there is an extremely intensive bird migration (about 26th of August). In just a few hours more than 20,000 storks fly over! 75 % of all European white storks and 100 % – it means all 40,000 pink pelicans are flying over during the whole year. If you are lucky you can see also coypus, otters or some other animals besides birds.
More info: here