November 28, 2008

A Taste of the Black Sea Coast
Varna, Bulgaria

Shumen to Varna for US$5/person

Some weeks ago I'd made contact with a Russian volunteer named Tanya who offered us a place in her Varna home. But only a few days before arriving, I leaned that she'd picked up a permanent roommate (another CouchSurfer in town), and wouldn't have a place for us. I quickly shot off more e-mails to Varna (which has quite a large CS community), but only received a single positive response out of the dozen or so people contacted (just about matching the same terrible reply rate from the near two dozen people approached from my prior attempt to secure a host/home in the city).

Our host, Nico

Nikolay (Nico), a 29-year-old Varna native, offered to host us for the weekend before leaving to do some personal business in Sofia (the capital) on Monday. I've pretty much got a three night minimum with the family in tow (as it takes a lot of energy to relocate us), and if the gray weather breaks I think these two days/three nights in town will be fairly enjoyable, and worth the detour to the coast.

Nico spends the warmer months of the year as a tour guide here in Vara. Cold weather generally means few tourists along the Black Sea and in Bulgaria's supposed beach and cultural capital, and Nico appears to travel or simply idle during the low season.

Nico's cute apartment

Our host doesn't cook for himself, is a vegetarian, seems to eat very little, speaks English quite well, and is certainly one of the most eccentric characters I think we've met CouchSurfing. Now settled into in his terribly cute split-level apartment, Tatiana and I both had him pegged as gay before he started talking about a girl he'd broken up with.

He appears to be the kind of guy that uses CS (and other venues) as a mechanism to meet women, but not in an overly creepy sort of way. I think he's the just the type of person that really needs the company of others, and in the winter months, when he's not dealing with tourists all day, gets very lonely. There seem to be some pretty high and low moods about him.

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