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Rest of Europe

Balchik by the Black Sea: Bulgaria

One of the aims of traveling for me has been to discover and experience sights and cultures hitherto unseen! Being in Europe gives one the privilege of doing it without leaving the continent, especially in the case of East Europe which is accessible by flights and yet offers something totally different from what we have perceived around us living in Germany. These were the same motivations that drove the three travel musketeers, Subha, Sayon & myself, to book the trip to 🇧🇬Bulgaria and explore its myriad sights.

✈️ At the outset it was very clear that we wanted to balance our sightseeing with both the beach and city landscapes. As such our 4-day trip to Bulgaria was split into two days in Sofia, the capital city in the interior and west of the country, and Varna, the coastal city in the east along the Black sea.

One of the highlights of our two-day juncture in Varna was the day trip to the nearby Balchik Palace. The palace is based in the coastal town of Balchik, some 42 km away from the city of Varna.

It’s time for a brief history lesson. This palace was built between 1926 and 1937 during the Romanian control of the region, to meet the needs of Queen Marie of Romania. When the queen visited Balchik in 1921, she liked the location of the summer residence along the coast and ordered the sprawling vineyards, gardens and water mills to be bought from the locals.

On a bright sunny morning we departed for the town of Balchik. The minibus took a scenic route along the coast of the Black sea, the views dipping in and out of patches of greenery. My fellow travel mates utilised the time and gave me an orientation to Instagram stories! 😃 On arrival to the city centre in Balchik , we discovered that the palace was situated at one corner of the town, which led us to take a local bus to get to the entrance of the palace.

The highlights of this place are the botanical gardens and the palace villas and buildings. Separate tickets must be purchased for the above. We stepped into the botanical gardens which lies closer to the entrance and is on an elevation and came across an abundance of blooming flowers. The jewel in the crown were the rose plants and its variations. An interesting discussion into our hobbies was started, given Sayon’s fascination with botany, his father being a rose plant aficionado. The pebbled paths led us further into the area, where given the seasonal aspects of gardens, work was in progress for planting that would bloom later in summer.

📷 All glory on lookout for compositions I would like! Moments captured by Subha!
🌿🍃 Favourite spot in the Balchik Garden: Humongous collection Cactus! 🌵 The 16 acre Botanical garden is the second one of its kinds in Europe after the one in Monaco with more than 3000 exotic plants such as Candy tree, Caper tree, Ginkgo Biloba, Glyptostroboides, Sand lily, Olives, etc!

A little while later we came upon a greenhouse filled with cactuses, some of which even had flowers! Scores of cactus plants of all shapes and sizes greeted us. We also marvelled at the resilience of such plants to grow in some of the harshest environmental conditions on earth.

🇧🇬 Дворец в Балчик: Botanical garden of the Quiet Nest Palace: Always been a fan of Cactus! And this place offered such mindblowing variety! 🌵
🍷Local wine tasting in the Queen’s Winery House: What amazing and unique sweet wines from Rose petals!

Close by, a cellar offered a free tasting experience of wines from the local vineyards. The presence of the rose petals in the delicate flavours of the wines was much felt, along with some local Rakija and other assorted sweet wines.

🌹No wonder they call Bulgaria the land of Roses!

Taking the steps down towards the coast we came across more structured gardens. According to the lore, the queen had a florist from Switzerland to arrange the botanical park.

Little did I know that this East European country is the world’s number 1 producer of rose oil from the rare rose type Rosa Damascena. The oil extracted from Rosa Damascena is used as a base element in cosmetics and perfumery all over the world and ever since the middle ages! 🥀
By far the coast of Black sea is beautiful in this part with the valley of blooming roses! 🌹
🚢Far away across the horizon of the Black Sea.. along the Atlantic Ocean between the BalkansEastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia.
One could stay by the coast and literally meditate into the horizon! 🚢
🦞🦐 Ofcourse when I am by the sea, sea food is a must. And thus we decided to get into the restaurant closes by the rocks!

Given that it was just past midday, we felt it was the right time to have a lunch break. We found a restaurant situated perfectly next to the coastline, with tables facing the open sea. For seafood lovers like myself & Sayon, it was like being in heaven. We ordered platters of fresh seafood with mussels, shrimps, squids and fried local fish to go along with some cold lemonade. To feast on such a spread while watching the sea waves as the seagulls flew by was sublime.

Can highly recommend the Koron Restaurant there. Didn’t regret a bit having variety sea food the whole afternoon with that view and lemonade! 🦑🦀🍤
Those walkways protruding into the sea would not let you get away without absorbing into the mood. 🌊

That brought us near the edge of the cliff where the view of the sea was so beautiful, it warranted a photo shoot. Our resident photography expert Sayon gave us a brief introduction in framing and taking photographs to great success.

🌊 The view from the coastal garden had colours fading in and out along the horizon.

After our lengthy lunch (who can complain when you had such a view 😉) we decided to head over to the main palace building- the Quiet Nest Palace.

The walk across the palace from the garden had some art galleries that would make you stop by and appreciate the beauty of what humans can do when it comes to creativity! 🎭
🏰 Quiet Nest Palace or the Balchik Palace in the Bulgarian coastal town from the early 90s: Home to the Queen Marie of Romania!

According to the lore, Balkan & Turkish motifs were used in the construction by Italian architects Augustino & Americo. We stepped into the cool interiors of the palace and basked in its regal splendor. There were only two floors to explore, as we did not have access to the balconies with its minarets.

Sneak-peak into the palace interiors!
🖌🎨 The coastal garden of Balchik is thriving with innumerable art pieces that one could not skip.

We made our way back across the botanical garden towards the church which was our last stop for the day. We came across a lot of souvenir shops which displayed works of art from the locals. Along the way were the exquisite baths with the pillars adorned with leaves. It was the perfect frame for some quality photo shoots.

Often did I notice girls in 💃🏻 colourful gown and 👒 pretty hats come and pose by such majestic view across the beautiful coast. Why not me, let’s give it a shot, thanks Subha!
🇧🇬The Bulgarian coastal town of Balchik along the 🌊 Black Sea will be etched in memory for a while.. one of the most stunningly beautiful village I have walked along till date! 🌿🍃

Even though we wanted to stay longer in this paradise of nature and history, the limited bus connections back to Varna and our subsequent travels led to us wrapping up this day trip to the Balchik Palace. We trekked back to the entrance and caught our connection to Varna in good time. We left, slightly tired from the walks of the day, yet our minds full of memories and sights of a lifetime!!

In the photo: Sayon, Subha & Srinivas at Varna the day before!

— Guest write-up by Srinivas!
Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂