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  • Radu

When you leave for Albena in the middle of the night...

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

It all started with a Whatsapp message:

- What are you doing? Are you sleeping?

- No, why?

- I'm bored and I can't sleep... how about we run to the Bulgarians?

- Let’s go!

So we hit the road in the middle of the night to Albena, Bulgaria. It was a totally ordinary June evening that would turn into an "adventure" in the true sense of the word. Why? Read on and find out!

Sunrise at the beach in Albena

The dialogue above is a reproduction of the discussion between me and our friend George (who has his permanent residence about 60 km from us) and who, like us, had no sleep around the middle of the night and would have run away from home, only he lacked "motivation".

Fast forward about an hour and my boy is in front of our apartment building ready for a trip to the Bulgarians. We quickly throw a few clothes in our backpack and rush out of the building straight into George's car...destination? Albena!

The subwoofer and the Opel bumper

We don't even leave the neighborhood well and I remember that my friend has a big subwoofer in the trunk.

- Hey man, why don't we put on some music?

Said and done. We pull over, tie a couple of wires in the trunk and suddenly the tired music on the radio turns into the loudest concert.

Perfect! We have music, we're in the mood...on the Bulgarians, on their mother (it’s a Romanian saying, don’t ask)!

Or not...

In five hundred meters max, the police pulls us over:

- Good evening! Officer (whatever his name was), we have a report that an Opel bumper has been stolen in the area and that the suspects fled in a gray car with Călărași license plates.

We were in a gray car, with Călărași license plates and the music at full blast. Sure victims!

George gives the license and registration to the cop, opens his trunk, and we thought that was it...

- But what do you have in the back? (the cop opens the back door of the car) Aaaah, there's a young lady here (it was Vali, my girlfriend).

After a few more "routine" minutes, some verified paperwork and a negative breathalyzer test, we part ways with the policeman and we’re back on our way to Albena. And not long after, we arrive at Giurgiu-Ruse customs at around two o'clock in the morning.

The friendship bridge

Arriving at customs in Ruse, we have an unfortunate encounter with a speed limiter that shakes both us and the car (the gray car with Călărași license plates – an SUV, old, but prepared for hard roads) and then we sit politely in the queue at the crossing of the friendship bridge to the Bulgarian brothers (yes, it was past midnight and there was some congestion in customs).

While we were sitting quietly in line, a “thing” which resembled a car with Bulgarian license plates passed us by... I say resembled a car because, the poor thing looked as if it had met a release team it upset and came out of the confrontation pretty well crumpled. But that's how it is when you return home, you have priority...the “spicy pan” (again a Romanian saying, again don’t ask), which miraculously made it past that speed limiter without disintegrating, leaves us stunned in a cloud of exhaust fumes and disappears into the night.

The parking lots on the side of the road are public toilets too

After some time wandering on the Bulgarian plains and about two energizers each, George and I were hit by a physiological need that we could no longer control and, at the first parking lot on the side of the road, we stopped to...solve the case.

It must have been about four in the morning when mother nature hit us exactly where it hurts men most and some trash cans in that parking lot seemed ideal to "liberate" us without attracting too much attention (still, let's not make our country the laughing stock of our neighbors). What I didn't mention is that this parking lot was right on the edge of a ravine full of weeds, but before we could solve our problems, the ravine suddenly lights up...below was a house, and in the house a Bulgarian couple who had just woken up to drink their coffee before going to work. We quickly gave up on our crazy plans (I already told you that we didn't want to shame our country) and moved on until we found a place where we could resolve our issues without disturbing any Bulgarian brother who just woke up to go to work.

After party means the same thing to them as it does to us

We arrived in Albena! Hurray! After we stuffed about 10 leva (Bulgarian national currency) into a machine (no, not that kind of "machine"...another Romanian...oh just go with it) to pass a barrier blocking our way to the sea, money that guaranteed us a parking spot for the whole day (very civilized thing) and after wondering around in a well-thought-out, but still difficult to understand maze for humans who haven't slept for almost 24 hours, we saw it: the Bulgarian Black Sea!

Before we get to enjoy the view (it was dawn and the sun's rays were starting to light up our way to the beach), we suddenly wake up with a well "packaged" boy on the hood of the car, shouting something cheerful at us in a language only he understood, as if trying to convince us that Bulgarian after parties are better than ours. George confidently uses the horn and wipers to get rid of the unwanted "guest", and then leaves the car to rest in a parking lot near the seafront.

The happy end

My story ends where a wonderful summer day begins, on a beautiful clean beach with a proper toweling area (some people still like to stay on the sand you know!).

I think it's worth a run to Albena, at least to see what a well-thought-out and organized resort on the Black Sea shore looks like, or, why not, maybe even for a relaxing all-inclusive vacation without burning a hole in your pocket.

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