Friday, April 26, 2013

Scenes from "Valley of Thracians": Varna

During the two years we lived in Bulgaria, my wife and I vacationed twice in Varna on the Black Sea. Varna is quite an ancient city, as the oldest golden treasure in the world was discovered there. Today it is a major tourist destination, with sandy beaches and hotels, including the nearby Golden Sands resorts.

In my suspense novel, Valley of Thracians, the Peace Corps volunteer at the center of the story is last seen at Golden Sands. “The wallet and passport of twenty-three-year-old Scott Matthews were discovered on a beach at a resort north of Varna three years ago. The Bulgarian police investigated, and your grandson was never found. Possibly he was washed out to sea; it’s not clear.”

Join me today on a virtual visit to Varna, with pictures of some of the locations where scenes from the book take place.

Professor Simon Matthews flies to Varna in a desperate effort to find his missing grandson. He walks along the Varna shoreline. "It seemed as if the entire population of Varna had flocked to the Black Sea to enjoy the weekend heat. All along the crowded beachfront, he observed, they were exposing as much skin to the summer elements as possible. Lying on their recliners and drinking beer under their colorful umbrellas, they talked happily amongst themselves."

I should point out that the beach the professor visited is described in the book as "rough gravel." As a Bulgarian reader of my novel correctly pointed out, most of the beaches on Bulgaria's Black Sea coastline are golden sands, like the name of the nearby resort area. It just happens that the professor visited one stretch of the coast where he was walking on gravel and not on sand.

One of the things that amuses the professor is that there are vendors selling hot corn on the cob on the beach.

Besides the beach, the main tourist attraction in Varna is the city's landmark Assumption Cathedral.

Separating the city from the beachfront are the Sea Gardens. The park is said to be the largest landscaped park in the Balkans. On our visit to Varna, we strolled through the park and saw local women selling their needlework and embroidery.

This is one of the statues in the park. You can't see from the pictures, but the statue was huge.


As we walked on Varna's main pedestrian street, not far from the Irish pub where Professor Mathews has a cool beer in Valley of Thracians, we saw a long line of people near a vendor's food stand. They were lining up for popcorn, as the stall reportedly had the best popcorn in Varna, if not in all of Bulgaria. We took our turn in line and bought two bags. It tasted like, well, popcorn.

We enjoyed our two trips to Varna and highly recommend making a visit. The beaches are great, and there's plenty to see in the city itself.

Please also read the other articles in this series, which will take you on visits to:

* Plovdiv
* Sofia
* Veliko Tarnovo
* Rila Monastery 
* Belogradchik


  1. Hi Ellis,

    I'm enjoying this series of posts. Sharing photos and cultural tidbits like this is a great way to give your readership some background info about your novel.

    Keep it up :)

  2. Thank you for sharing these photos and also giving an insight to your novel :o)

  3. Thanks for sharing this insightful material! Shared it on Facebook, Google+ and some of our Pinterest boards