Thursday, June 19, 2008

Washington State

is bigger than many of the world’s countries. Yet, by western American standards it is a small state – 68.139 square miles to be exact. And therein lays the magic. It’s hard to imagine such a diversity of geography, geology, climate, history, ethnic groups, or population densities in such a relatively small space.
One easy way to get a handle on the diversity of Washington is to think of the state as two parts of unequal size, with the Cascade Range serving as the line of demarcation. The damp, lusciously green west side of the line is smaller in size, but big in population. The I-5 corridor is home to the majority of the state’s residents. The west side is big in natural splendor. This is a land of ancient rain forest with huge, mossy trees and miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. From Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula, to Ilwaco on the southern end of Long Beach Peninsula, you’ll discover awe-inspiring, pristine ocean views and some of the most picturesque, historic seaside communities in the nation. The east side of the Cascades is traditionally sunny and dry, a land of big skies and wide open spaces. Its population centers are handsome small cities like Yakima, The Tri-Cities, and Spokane, and the vast stretches of land around them are sprinkled with enchanting little towns and family ranches. It’s here that the traveler finds the true west so deeply engrained in everyone’s fantasies and the Hollywood dream machine. On both sides, natural and man-made wonders are on a gigantic scale. On the west, Seattle’s gleaming canyons of steel and glass a wonderful counterpoint to the east side’s Snake and Yakima River canyons, as well as its magnificent glacier-carved gorges. Grand Coulee Dam is a mighty tribute to man’s engineering skills and as dizzying in its mass and power as the Space Needle is in its height and delicacy.
Five mountain passes and the Columbia Gorge link the state’s two parts, all cutting their way through the rugged and magnificent Cascade Mountains. These passes offer the quickest way to immerse you in Washington’s startling diversity. State Highway 20 climbs up and over Washington Pass through North Cascades National Park and on to the authentically old western town of Winthrop. US Highway 2 crosses Stevens Pass, then drops down in the delightfully Bavarian town of Leavenworth and stretches on to Wenatchee. The broad cut and easy incline of Interstate 90 tops out at Snoqualmie Pass, then carries the traveler past the quaint settlements of Roslyn, Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and into Yakima. State Highway 410 wraps around the north side of Mount Rainier and begins to descend at Chinook Pass. The views of Rainier are stunners. US Highway 12 follows the south side of Mount Rainier then heads over White Pass.
No matter which pass you choose, the transition is similar. You leave the I-5 Corridor, ascend slopes covered with Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and big-leaf maple and carpeted with salal, ferns, and huckleberry. Near the summits the craggy snowcapped peaks surround you and you’ll feel cradled in the planet’s very birthplace.
As you begin the descent, the forests turn into pine. And as the roads flatten out, spectacular rocky outcroppings stand out against bright blue skies, brown hills roll off in the distance, the air is redolent with the scent of sage, and tumbleweeds tumble along.
And if you think going up and over the Cascades is all there is, try cutting through them via the Columbia Gorge. Following the same route as Lewis and Clark, State Highway 14 flanks the Columbia River through the gorge from Vancouver to Plymouth. Moss and fern-clad cliffs punctuated with waterfalls give way to rolling, grassy hills that look like gold velvet. T’s a starting metamorphosis. Washington’s amazing differences don’t end with landforms and vegetation. From the bustle and chatter in the streets of Seattle’s Chinatown and International District, to the intoxicating rhythms of an Indian Pow Wow, and on to comforting clip-clop of horses, mounted by real cowboys from Kittitas to Colfax, this is a state of many faces. And how do they mix together? There’s an easy test to answer that question. Just say “hello” to anyone, anywhere. The smile and twinkle will tell the tale.
As you explore the state’s cities and meander the back roads, knocking around the little towns, take time to look at the architecture. Some utilitarian some established with the gingerbread of opulent days gone by; these structures are a lesson in state history. Weathered barns in the Skagit Valley bespeak rich grazing lands and a climate so wet that the siding never dried out enough to paint and the handsome patina of weathered cedar changed the way immigrant farmers perceived beauty. In the hamlet of Coupeville, on Whidbey Island, there are enough shingles and clapboard, steeply pitched roofs and stone foundations, to convince you that you’ve stepped into a New England whaling village. Ellensburg flaunts the spunk and promise of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in brick and granite, all within the spirit of the old west. And the prosperity of Walla Walla’s pioneer days is manifested in its sophisticated downtown buildings, its wonderful old city park, complete with a bandstand, and the dignified elegance along the streets of its residential districts. Throughout Washington you can literally reach out and touch pieces of the last century as it unfolded.
To avail yourself of Washington’s magic, you don’t need a wand, a secret incantation, or even lots of money. The old adage “the best things in life are free” was never more true. All you need to do is put on some walking shoes, get on your bike, hop a ferry or a train, or fill a van with kids or friends and a picnic – don’t forget the dog. Off you go and the adventures begin. The state is peppered with great campgrounds, charming bed and breakfast inns, mom and pop motels, big hotels, and top quality resorts. And whether you’re buying smoked salmon in Pike Place Market or apples and peaches in Selah or Prosser, it’s a good idea to shop for food as you go. Washington offers a veritable cornucopia of fresh wholesome things to eat. And our wines are world-class and our wineries are fascinating stops where you’ll learn about viniculture and be able to sample the wines. Who needs to go to Provence?
But be forewarned. Once you’ve basket in the bright skies and fragrant air of the Palouse or walked a stormy beach or visited a lighthouse near Seaview, you can be certain you’ll want to do more. Traveling Washington is addictive. But then, what better habit could you start?
Whether you are visiting from out-of-state, or a Washingtonian anxious to explore your own backyard, this Travel Planner cannot fully describe every activity you can enjoy here. Rather, it should be interpreted as a tiny glimpse of the dynamic range of beauty and culture that await you. For the purposes of helping you choose your next Washington destination, we have divided the state into ten tourism regions.
1. The Islands
Protecting the northern entrance of Puget Sound, the San Juan archipelago, Whidbey and Fidalgo Island are ideal get-away havens. Here you’ll discover tiny villages and picturesque art communities. Isolated coves enable complete quiet for total relaxation and rejuvenation.
2. Kitsap & Olympic Peninsulas
Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and Hood Canal, this wonderland contains the Olympic Rain Forest and, surprisingly, the driest region in western Washington. Thousands of miles of scenic waterfront, vibrant cultural art centers and historic districts await your exploration.
3. The Coasts
Very few sounds in the world are as soothing and meditative as ocean waves rolling onto a Pacific Northwest shore. The Coast region provides a host of opportunities for you to enjoy the ocean, marinas, historic communities, and lighthouses that line our western most boundaries.
4. North Cascades
From the shores of Puget Sound and Bellingham Bay, you’ll head over the Cascades on one of the world’s most scenic driving loops through old-west and Bavarian-theme communities. Wind along the banks of the Columbia to Lake Chelan, bountiful apple orchards, cowboys, and historic mining towns.
5. Seattle / King County
Seattle offers world-class amenities with flair and distinction. Pioneer Square, the Pike Place market, and Seattle Center are just a few of the “don’t miss” attractions. Yet, just minutes from the metropolitan core, throughout King County you’ll discover beautiful lakes, mountains, farmland and bustling, neighborly communities.
6. Volcano County
Explore waterfront communities on southern Puget Sound and the Columbia River. Or launch into the towering Cascades. The grande dame, Mount Rainier and her temperamental sister Mount St Helens are easily accessible from the small communities that line the route and present wonderfully entertaining adventure opportunities.
7. Columbia River Plateau
High plains desert gouged and rutted by centuries of cataclysmic ice age floods have created this surreal and splendid Washington destination. The majestic Grand Coulee Dam and hundreds of isolated lakes at the base of ancient waterfalls will rewards visitors with many unique and memorable recreation options.
8. Wine County
Rich volcanic soil combined with hot summers, cold winters, and very little rainfall have created some of the finest wine grape and fresh fruit growing conditions in the world. Visit the wineries and farm tours and enjoy the hospitality of the independent souls who will welcome you with open arms.
9. Rocky Mountain Gateway
On Washington’s northeastern boundary, you’ll encounter a land of constant wonder. From the renovated historic downtown and riverfront park of Spokane to the hundreds of lakes, raging rivers and lush, deep forests of the Pend Oreille and Colville, virtually every bend in the road reveals a new and delightful surprise.
10. The Palouse
The spectacular Palouse Falls and scenic Hells Canyon on the Snake River provide perfect bookends for the rolling hills and beauty that lie within this remarkably picturesque destination. Tiny farming communities with rich historic roots surround the home of the Washington State Cougars in Pullman and the quaint back roads that connect them, present their own rewards.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Malta

Malta has often been referred to as the island of sunshine and history and with good reason. For, throughout your stay in Malta you will find a surfeit of both. Malta’s history was, in a sense, pre-destined for it by excellent natural harbor and strategic location. The harbor provided a sheltered base for naval fleets whilst the island itself, situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, enabled its colonizing power to exercise control over shipping in this vast and turbulent sea. Hardly surprising therefore, that Malta has always exerted an irresistible attraction to the would-be military powers of successive epochs. Control over Malta was a prerequisite to domination of the Mediterranean and for this reason all the various powers that, at one time or other, held sway over the Mediterranean at that same time exercised control over Malta. The long list of Malta’s colonizers, the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Castilians, Knights of St. John, the French, and finally, the British is indicative of the important role Malta played in the molding of European and Mediterranean history. The list of important visitors to the island, from the Apostle Paul to Napoleon and Nelson is equally impressive. It is no exaggeration therefore, that Malta’s history is a good starting point for a study of the history of the region. If you want to enjoy Malta soak up its history. History, in Malta, stares you in the face and you cannot escape from it. The good thing is that you will enjoy its captivating intensity.
The intelligent visitor is never satisfied with just skimming the surface of his holiday destination. His appetite for learning urges him to delve deeper into the origins and history of the country and the people he is visiting. In this respect few other countries provide as much satisfaction as Malta, for the island is steeped in history. Every square inch of its land and its temples and monuments bear witness to a civilization which, in May ways, is unparalleled. In spite of its small size Malta’s strategic location, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, has meant that, over the centuries, the island has played a very important role in the vicissitudes of the region, right from the early days of civilization up to the present times.
All the various periods of Malta’s history make fascinating reading, but there are two particular periods – the Neolithic period and the period of the Knights of St. John – which stand out from the rest because they are unique to Malta. On their own the remains of these two periods constitute a good enough reason to visit Malta.
Until recently, the Egyptian pyramids were thought to be the oldest architectural monuments in existence. Recent archaeological research however, has shown that the earliest Neolithic temples on Malta are about 1.000 years older than the famous pyramids of Giza. Huge rocks, several tons in weight were used in the construction of these temples. Even with modern techniques and tools this would not be an easy task today. How these enormous loads were moved, or even lifted, 5.000 or 6.000 years ago remains a mystery.
The earliest temples, such as the one at Ggantija on Gozo, were built by the piling of huge rocks on top of each other. They did not have any carving or decoration. Later temples, such as the one at Hagar Qim, in Malta were made of huge stones fitting very closely together and ornately decorated. Carving was done with only very primitive flint and obsidian tools. No archaeological remains made of metal from this period have been discovered on Malta. One theory is that this prehistoric people did not use metal because they foresaw, in its use, their own future destruction.
The subterranean burial place at Malta’s Hal Saflieni, the so-called Hypogeum, is an even more astonishing relic and its accidental discovery in 1902 caused quite a sensation in world archaeological circles. The temple must have been literally carved into the rocks over hundreds of years with simple tools made from flint and obsidian. Starting at ground level the Hypogeum descends several storeys below ground and covers an area of more than 500 square meters. The Hypogeum was certainly a place of worship and burial – the bones of over 7000 people have been found – and could also have been used as a place for the training of priestesses. A number of relics support this hypothesis.
All trace of the mysterious people who built the Hypogeum disappeared suddenly around 2.000 BC – at the height of their culture. How this peaceful people disappeared we will never know. It remains pure speculation as to whether conquerors with modern metal weapons wiped out this unarmed, unfortified people, or weather a sudden epidemic destroyed all human life on Malta for centuries. Equally strange and mysterious are the cart ruts found on many of the rocky ridges in Malta. The most popular theory is that these were made by primitive slide-carts used before the invention of the wheel.
Many hundreds of years after the Neolithic period and precisely in 1530, the Knights of the Order of St John brought about another epoch of great cultural significance to the island. This is not to say that between the sudden disappearance of the Neolithic culture and the arrival of the Knights nothing had happened. Quite the contrary. Many relics and remains bear witness to important historical events in this period. However, no unique or individual culture had originated from the many peoples – the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Castilians – who colonized the island in this prolonged interval.
The history of the Knights of St John begins in the middle of the eleventh century in the Holly Land. The Order’s original duties were to care for the sick and wounded Christian pilgrims to the Holly Land and to help the poor. But very soon their duties expanded; the fight against the “infidels” became of equal or even greater importance. The Knights became “Soldiers of Christ”. They acquired and maintained huge estates and castles in the Holly Land and finally owned a large fleet.
With the loss of Acre to the Moslems in 1291, however, the fate of the Knights was sealed. They withdrew to Rhodes and acted as a shield against the Turks for two centuries until 1522 when Suleiman the Magnificent ousted the Knights from Rhodes. They now needed a new homeland and, in 1530, moved to Malta to which they were given tenure by Emperor Charles V.
The Knights quickly improved trade and commerce on the island, built new hospitals and, most important, erected new strong fortifications. But Suleiman wanted to destroy the Order completely and use Malta as a base from which to attack Southern Europe. In 1565 he set out with a strong fleet to drive the Knights out of Malta. The siege which his navy laid on Malta, referred to by the Maltese as the Great Siege of 1565, lasted four months with fighting of almost unimaginable ferocity. Although heavily outnumbered, the Knights stood firm and finally won, assisted by the Maltese people and by last minute reinforcements from Sicily. The Turks had no alternative but to beat retreat leaving behind them an impressive number of dead amongst whom the feared corsair Dragut. The Knights of St John had successfully protected Southern Europe and Christendom. After their victory against the Turks, the Knights turned enthusiastically to the further development of Malta and Gozo. A golden era in culture, architecture and the arts followed. Many of Malta’s most attractive buildings were built during this period. A new fortress city, Valletta, was built and named in honor of the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette under whose inspired guidance the knights and the Maltese had defied Turkish onslaught. Valletta is one of the earliest examples of a planned city built on the grid system. The Knights of St John, coming as they did from the richest families in Europe, could afford to hire the best talent available and the buildings of Valletta, its fortifications and the art treasures in its museums and churches are the work of the best European engineers and artist of the time. It was the magnificence of its palaces and other treasures that led Sir Walter Scott to describe Valletta as “The city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”.
The fall of the Ottoman Empire marked the beginning of the end of the military vocation of the Order. The absence of a serious military threat to the Order’s existence, increasing wealth, arrogance, lack of discipline and debauchery ate into the moral fabric of the Order. Thus when, in 1798, Napoleon, on his way to Egypt, dropped anchor outside Grand Harbor on the pretext that his expedition needed fresh water supplies, he found an Order which had lost its morale. Not surprisingly, the French Navy did not have to fire a single shot to secure Malta’s surrender from the Knights. On the 12th June, Napoleon entered Valletta bringing to an end 268 years of rule by the Knights of St John. Napoleon spent six eventful days in Malta during which, through numerous edicts, he tried to transform the island into a typical “Department” of France.
However, French rule in Malta was short-lived. By 1800 the Maltese, with the help of Nelson, managed to drive the French garrison out of Malta and sought the protection of the British throne. That was to mark the beginning of a close association between Malta and Britain lasting over 160 years; Malta became independent in 1964 and adopted a Republican Constitution in 1974.

The Maltese People – friendly and relaxed

Visitors to Malta are invariably struck by the rare sense of hospitality and friendliness of the Maltese people. The Apostle Paul, who was shipwrecked off Malta in AD 60, was probably the first long-stay winter visitor to the Island and the hospitality shown him by the locals is well recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Two thousand years later Maltese hospitality remains as warm and as unaffected as it was then. The Maltese welcome the company of foreigners and being helpful to them comes naturally. Also, they take great interest in what is happening in the rest of the world, and, with their flair for languages, communication with visitors is easy. They have an admirable sense of humor and like most Mediterranean people, tend to be rather jovial. These qualities endear the Maltese to the foreign visitors. It is generally said that foreigners are tourists in Malta only on their first visit; on their second and subsequent visits they return to Malta as their friends. The pace of life in Malta is very relaxed by European standards. The Maltese enjoy life and their broad smiles tell you that they are a happy people. They find great strength and unity in their common language, religion and strong family ties.

Folklore and festivals

The Maltese love festivals and the warm Maltese climate make it possible to enjoy these colorful events throughout the whole year. Between May and October every town and village in Malta and Gozo celebrates the feast day or “festa” of its patron saint. The festa is the most important event in each village’s annual calendar and the villagers eagerly look forward to this very special day.
Considerable preparation goes into these celebrations. The village church, which is the pride of every villager, is draped with red damask and decorated with beautiful flowers. All it’s gold and silver treasures, as well as the crystal chandeliers, are put on display thus creating a fitting setting for the statue of the patron saint which is placed in a prominent position in the Church. The church fa├žade is illuminated with hundreds of multicolored bulbs, as also are the streets, across which are suspended massive and colorful drapes. Hundreds of flags are flown on roof tops whilst drapes and light bulbs are hung across the width of the covered balconies which are typical of Maltese traditional houses. The houses on the main streets, through which the religious procession passes, are generally given a fresh coat of paint for the occasion, and on festa day are lit up and adorned so that they look their best.
There is a three-day build-up to the feast and the atmosphere throughout is one of gaiety and merriment. On the festa day, as the statue of the saint is carried shoulder- high along the streets of the village the church bells ring and several massed bands play marches. Children throw confetti from balconies on to the passing procession. The nougat and candy-floss stands make excellent business whilst the crowds walk up and down the village streets stopping every now and than for a drink or to greet an old friend. The noise becomes quite deafening as the statue is about to re-enter the church; at this stage noisy but colorful fireworks are let off in abundant quantities. The Maltese specialize in the manufacture of fireworks and, in Maltese inter-village rivalry; fireworks often constitute the bench mark for comparing the success of the various festas. During the summer season there is a festa practically every weekend and no holidaymaker to Malta should leave the Island without experiencing one.
Besides the local parochial “festas”, there are others which are celebrated on a national scale. The “Imnarja”, a Harvest festival which is celebrated on June 29, is characterized by a night-long picnic at Buskett Gardens, Rabat on the eve of which the native dish, stewed rabbit, is consumed in large quantities, accompanied by equally large volumes of wine. Exhibits of local agricultural produce, band marches, decorated carts and folklore singing competitions enliven the night-long proceedings. The following day, the festivities reach a climax when bare-back donkey and horse races are held in the street leading to Rabat. The prizes awarded for these races are brocaded banners which the winners traditionally donate to their village church.
The 8th September Regatta held in Grand Harbor, celebrates Malta’s victories during the Great Siege of 1565 and the Second World War. The magnificent Fort St Angelo provides an imposing backdrop to the sleek and colorful Maltese boats. Rowing teams from the cities bordering Grand Harbor take part in a number of very exciting races, marked by extreme rivalry between the participating teams and their respective supporters. The Maltese really let their hair down in the revelry of Carnival in mid-February. The main defile takes place in the capital, Valletta, but in every town and village children dress up in colorful clothes and cover their faces in masks or make-up to camouflage their identity. The Valletta defile is very spectacular containing as it does many floats of a high professional standard.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bulgaria – Black Sea Coast

Bulgaria has a unique geographical position. It is situated in the remote southeast corner of Europe – the Balkan Peninsula. The territory of the country is comparatively small – only 111.000sq m yet it is the crossing point of three bio-geographical regions. These are the Middle European forest, the Eurasia steppe and the Mediterranean lands. The geographical position of the country, as well as the great variety of relief and landscapes – vast lowlands and steppes, rivers and lakes, valleys and woods, hills and mountains, descending to the waters of the Black Sea – is a guarantee for multifarious having its own atmosphere and unique charm.
Proud of its unique heritage, Bulgaria is a splendid combination of wonderful nature, interesting history and matchless culture. This is the land of sunny mountains, clear waters, unique folk music and crafts. The modern beach resorts, situated on the golden sands of the Black Sea offer the visitors nature beauty, ancient history and modern architecture. In winter you will spend unforgettable time skiing or snowboarding in Bansko, Borovets, Pamporovo and many other mountain resorts. Mountain ranges offer unique views. Fragrant woods, volcanic rocky formation, dramatic canyons and a great number of caves contribute for the magnificent panorama. The peoples that inhabited the Bulgarian lands in different periods created our rich history and culture. Folklore tradition is living in the villages and the Bulgarian songs and dances are the only one of their kind. The Orthodox monasteries with their churches with mural paintings are places for pilgrimage and refinement. Bulgaria is becoming a leading world destination for tourist travels all year long because the country is unforgettable in every single season.
For decades the Black Sea Coast has rightfully been the most popular, the most preferred and the most visited Bulgarian destination, owing to the remarkable qualities of the region: 380 km of beaches, 240-300 hours of sunshine in the summer season, average daily temperature of the air 23-25 C and of the water 23-25 C, 70-75% atmospheric humidity, varied relief, uncountable cultural and historical sights, resorts for any taste and pocket…

North Black Sea

Rousalka

The Bulgarian traditions in respect to the hospitality industry developed in the Black Sea resort areas unveiled incredible sea resorts compatible at world level. The national Black Sea resorts attract holidaymakers and tourists with recreation and rest adequate to the requirements and expectations of present day tourists through a great combination of their natural beauties, well-preserved and up-to-date architecture, tourist attraction and entertainments, good service and compatible prices.
Rousalka Holiday Village is one of the most attractive sea resorts for seaside recreational tourism. Nestling in a picturesque natural and historical reserve area – the Birds Bay, in the thick of a venerable oak wood, 20 km northeast of the city of Kavarna, Rousalka Holiday Village offers an unforgettable vacation in ecologically pure surroundings letting you escape from the mass tourist flow. Rousalka Holiday Village is the perfect blend of unspoilt nature and original architecture. Rocky coast and a nice sandy beach… Small cottages built in clusters, one next to the other or one above the other… Hot mineral water and perfect accommodation services… The club village was built in the mid 1970’s in partnership with the French company Club Mediterrane. Sport and recreational facilities available to guests: 600 self-contained two-beds bungalows scattered along the beach area, some of which are interlinked, making them particularly suitable for large families; well-designed and furnished, equipped with TV, air conditioning and telephone facilities; all day kindergarten and sports and animation services for the children; open area bar; mini bar and baby-club; boutiques; secretary and administrative services; rental car services; water sport activities and horseback riding in a modern horse riding club; tennis courts; fitness equipment and sauna, mini-football, volleyball, basketball and archery; jogging area; swimming pool area for families and small kids; curative mineral water showers in the former location of old Roman thermal baths; wonderful beach areas, exotic caves and curative spa. If you are lucky enough you may have the chance to watch the dance of the dolphins playing not too far away from the seacoast. The underwater divers’ club became an integral part of the Rousalka Holiday Village in 1998 – a member club in both the World Sub aquatics Federation and the Bulgarian Association of Submarine Activities.

Albena

The Albena seaside resort with its 5 km long beach lies in a picturesque bay only 32 km away from Varna and 502 km northeast of the city of Sofia.
The rare combination of fine golden sand, fresh air, crystal clear sea and mineral water, medicinal herbs, various natural products and perfectly organized Medical and Spa Centre make Albena a perfect location for family holidays and a most preferred tourist resort area both locally and in Europe.
One of the most marvelous resort on the Black Sea Coast with a good location, ideal for high quality accommodation and with variety of amenities, Albena is the place where the sea meets the sand. Hotels right on the beach – Albena offers a total of 14.900 beds in 43 hotels. They are located right on the beach or on the nearby hill with breathtaking sea and forest views. The hotels of Albena provide various services, such as 20 international TV programs, paid TV channel, a radio studio, phone card telephone facilities, information about transport timetables and air/sea temperatures, the opening and closing hours of shops, restaurants, entertainment clubs, advance booking for excursions, restaurants, taxis, laundry and medical assistance, rental car services and convention halls, internet rooms and medical care. Most of the hotels have a terrace line structure with well-projected storeys. The concept behind this architecture is to get more sun in summer days.
The resort offers great opportunities for housing tourist and holidaymakers. The area hosts 8 football fields; 17 tennis courts; 25 swimming pools with mineral water; 12-alley bowling halls; 9 beach volleyball grounds; a modern horse riding club; a modern multifunctional sports hall, where 11 different sports can be exercised at one and the same time. Albena has excellent off-season sports and recreational programs, which are very competitive to the sport ground properties in the foreign resort areas at the level of Antalya, Cyprus and Western Europe.

Golden Sands

The Golden Sands resort is located 17 km from the city of Varna, in the north part of the Bulgarian Black Sea Riviera. It is a unique combination of a calm and warm sea, wooded slopes descending to a beach covered with fine golden sand after which the resort area is named. All these natural conditions and the mineral springs favors bathing and basking, jet sports, surfing, water skiing and many other water sports.
The small bay areas scattered in this resort welcome children and amateur swimmers. The gems of the resort are the curative mineral spring waters and all holidaymakers may combine their holidays with healthcare programs – year-round spa treatment offering a wide range of services and programs.
Golden Sands resort area is developing every single minute and you may notice the new tourist properties rising every year that attract holidaymakers and tourist with the luxury and comfort typical for the world famous resort hotels. Every hotel is equipped with restaurants, fitness halls and offers lots of services and conveniences.
Restaurants serve Bulgarian, European and exotic cuisine, as well as superb, world-famous Bulgarian wines. Night time entertainment is also well developed: night clubs, discotheques, attractive folklore programs and exciting floor shows, casino and roulette tables. To keep you fit – sport facilities in the dry and wet: tennis courts, riding ground, mini-golf, bicycles, bowling, fitness centers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and many other facilities.
Riviera Holiday Club is located in the immediate vicinity of Golden Sands resort, amid a natural park of centuries-old trees at the water’s edge and on a beautiful beach.
Riviera is a wonderful combination of mild sea climate and modern spa treatment opportunities. The former governmental residence, situated right on the shore, with its own beaches and park with fine old trees, nowadays offers 493 hotel rooms with 1000 beds in 5 hotels of different category
Riviera Holiday Club is a renowned exclusive centre of business tourism, with a capacity to satisfy any convention and business meeting requirements.
Riviera Holiday Club is a prestigious holiday club combining the tranquility of nature with modern comforts and health procedures.

St. St. Konstantin and Elena

In 1897 the municipality of Varna undertook to build tourist properties in the ancient area of the monarchical cloister “St. St. Konstantin and Elena”. Construction works began almost a century ago and the resort is named after the nearby St. St. Konstantin and Elena Monastery, built at the beginning of the 18th century. Bulgaria’s oldest Black Sea resort, located 9 km north of Varna and 479 km east of the capital of Bulgaria, the city of Sofia, is an elegant holiday destination which prides itself on a long tradition of hospitality.
Situated in a fine old park with cypresses, lilies and fig trees, quiet bays, sand beaches and curative mineral springs, the resort offers comfortable hotels, villa-settlements and holiday houses, dominated by the Grand Hotel Varna (one of the best Bulgarian sea hotels), modern restaurants serving national and European cuisine, sports and entertainment for any age and excursions.

Saint Elias

The most fashionable and representative hotel in this complex of tourist properties is the tourist area of St. Elias, comprising the Grand Hotel Varna and a couple of renewed 4-star hotels scattered in an oasis of greenery, sea and curative mineral water. Holidaymakers can take some rest and enjoy their stay in the sea centre, inside and outside swimming pool areas, and have fun in the wide variety of restaurants and pubs as well as in one of the biggest casinos in the area.

Sunny Day

Sunny Day Tourist Complex – A luxury tourist complex with elegant hotels situated right on the shore 10 km north of the city of Varna, in the immediate vicinity of St. St. Konstantin and Elena resort. Sunny Day is a peaceful green oasis in a sheltered bay with one kilometer of coastal area, a lovely natural park, clean sea, and golden sand and mineral springs.
The tourist attractions and entertainment are catered through 6 restaurants offering Bulgarian and European cuisine, day and night bars, discos, pools, and bowling rooms. Sunny Day also has two fully equipped spa centers offering over 100 different kinds of medical treatment procedures and beauty care, highly qualified medical personnel. Sunny Day offers excellent conditions and facilities for conventions, conferences and receptions in six halls with full audio-visual equipment, seating from 20 to 230 persons.

Elenite

Elenite Holiday Village is situated at the foot of the Balkan Range, right next to the shore, 45 km away from the city of Bourgas and 10 km from Sunny Beach resort, with a whole range of two and three storey villas, cobbled narrow streets, and sport and entertainment facilities. The holiday village is equipped with a conference hall with over 200 seats, a trade centre, and offers rooms with excellent conditions for family holidays, a multitude of restaurants, bars, cafes, games halls, discos, a shopping centre with post office and polyclinic, an outdoor sea water swimming pool, a kindergarten with children’s pool, tennis courts, and lots of live show programs.
The hotel beds number 1026, divided in three zones. Eremite Holiday Village offers many sport facilities – fitness, aerobics, pool, shooting, trampoline and almost all activities are in the package tour – the so called “all inclusive” program.

Sunny Beach

Sunny Beach – this holiday village lies only 42 km north of the city of Bourgas, featuring wide and warm sea with gently sloping sand bottom. The resort is famous for the combination of sunshine and fresh breeze, and for the varied cultural program. The Golden Orpheus International Festival of Bulgarian Pop Songs, taking place in Sunny Beach is long established.
Stretching along a beautiful semi-circular bay facing east, Sunny Beach was established in the early sixties of the past century. It is the biggest resort, with the longest and widest beach strip, with hotels spread along the beach and among the dunes.
What can be found in Sunny Beach? A wide semi-circular bay facing east over an 8 km long beach strip, with fine golden sand, natural dunes, a clean and gently sloping sea. Conditions for water sports are excellent indeed. Hundreds of restaurants, taverns and entertainment places are open till early morning to satisfy any taste and preferences. Water sports are a great pleasure and an irresistible temptation in Sunny Beach as a very up-to-date resort area. There is a great abundance of bathing pools, some of them naturally mineralized. Sunny Beach has lots of hotels, campsites and amazing catering establishments: restaurants, taverns with folklore shows, bars with floor shows, night clubs, casinos, discos and cafes, providing culinary pleasures and a good mood for tourists.

Varna

The Black Seaside capital of Bulgaria is the title awarded to the city of Varna – the third biggest city in that country. Bourgas, which comes right after Varna in the ranking, is the largest city in this South Black Sea region and is not less worth of such recognition. Both big cities of Varna and Bourgas, municipality and governing region centers nowadays, have preserved a great history and culture and become very flourishing business and trade centers. Varna and Bourgas have been tourist regions since early times. It is easy to see why, when having a look at all these grand hotels, motels and tourist properties, which welcome domestic tourist and international visitors all year round.
Varna, which the ancient Greeks called Odessos, is a city with an incredible historical heritage. The oldest processed gold in the history of the world is found in the Varna necropolis dating from the 5th century BC.
Varna became a very famous tourist attraction and resort area in the 20th century. Nowadays Varna is the centre of the North Black Sea coastline, its port is the second largest after the Bourgas one. There is an international airport and a railroad station – active transport communication facilities connecting Varna with the inland parts of the country. Symbols of the Bulgarian sea capital are: the Seaside Garden with its unique and picturesque trees, the great amount of ancient monasteries and cultural properties, the Congress and Festival Centre, the Palace of Sports and Culture and the various preserved buildings dating from 19th and 20th century, built in Wiener style. The Seaside Garden – the biggest park of Varna, situated along the beach offers a golden and fine sand strip, water sliding facilities, flower gardens and water basins, welcoming cafeterias, aquarium, and dolphinarium. The Planetarium – the first to be established in Bulgaria of its kind is also located here. The Tower of the planetarium is equipped with a Foucault pendulum that shows the movement of the Earth. It is the only one of that type on the Balkan Peninsula. Within the sea park area one can find the Seaside Baths, the Navy Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Aquarium (unique exposition of water organisms – Black Sea, freshwater, tropical fishes), the Astronomical Observatory and the Planetarium which organizes viewings for visitors, the Dolphinarium with an amusing show, etc. The Roman thermal baths, 2nd or 3rd century BC, are the largest vestiges of such thermal baths in our land. The ethnographic museum, the Clock Tower built in 1880, as well as the Church of the Assumption are also worth visiting. Varna is an all-year holiday destination. Beyond the high season its balneotherapy facilities can help you unwind and enjoy the many sights and sounds in peace.

South Black Sea
Bourgas

Bourgas – the city is the fourth largest in Bulgaria, situated in the most western part of the Bourgas Bay, spreading on a peninsula surrounded by the three famous lakes – Bourgasko, Atanaskovo and Mandrensko. The city of Bourgas is turning to be the most vivid and busy centre in the South Black Sea coastline and has the biggest port area in Bulgaria with well-developed industry and flourishing trade relations. The Port of Bourgas is the biggest seaport in the country. The Airport of Bourgas is the one where the international flights land in summer. It’s not famous as a beach resort (although you can find a few beaches), but rather as a starting point for the big southern Black Sea resorts in Bulgaria with its railway station facilities and busy bus station.
The favorable geographical location and advanced transport infrastructure of Bourgas are good prerequisites for development of tourism and trade. Bourgas is not only an important industrial centre in the country, it also has considerable resources for tourism. What mostly attracts people here is undoubtedly the sea. The Sea Garden which rivals the one in Varna, the Cathedral of St. St. Cyril & Methodius with lavish decorations of mural paintings and frescos, the Armenian Church, the catholic cathedral, the churches of St. Deva Maria and St. Ivan Rilski, the Natural Science Museum, the Philharmonic orchestra and the Art Gallery. The city beach in the proximity of the Sea Garden is a very busy and visited place. There is a whole range of bars, restaurants, cafeterias, entertainments and sport facilities on one side and the natural tourist attraction – the golden sand, on the other. The dark color of the sand on the seacoast of Bourgas is due the tinge of magnetic alloys which have a very curative effect.

Duni

Forty kilometers south of the city of Bourgas, sheltered in the northern slopes of Strandzha mountain is the very attractive holiday resort Duni (Dunes) with its sand strip of 4.5 km. If you pay attention to the name you will find out for yourself how the place came to be called in this way. The picturesque and unique sea bay area of this vacation holiday resort is a real paradise to holidaymakers attracted by the opportunities for sport and sunbathing. There is no other spot in Bulgaria so close to the sea and to its romantic atmosphere as Duni. The area is a natural reserve where you may also notice the migration route Via Pontica. The holiday resort Duni is comprised of three separate areas of excellently grouped architecture: Pelican, Marina and Panorama. The basic idea of the architects is to reproduce the romantic side of a small Bulgarian village with narrow cobbled streets, sunny areas and flower gardens, to feel a different ambience and charm. The ecological balance, well preserved through all these years, is awarded with the Blue Flag eco-label award.