Visiting Primorsko With a Dog – Bulgaria
“One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” — Edith Wharton
Our adventures on the Black Sea coast started with setting down our pied-a-terre in the humble “resort town” of Primorsko. It’s history goes so far back that vessels from the Stone Age and remains of Neolithic navigation have been found. A nearby site called Beglik Tash dates back to the early Bronze Age and medieval amphora’s and pottery have been discovered on the banks of the Ropotamo River. Basically, humans have been enjoying this wonderful location for a long time. And what is not to love? Rolling hills and rivers give way to sand dunes, magnificent beaches and the sea. And the climate is moderate all year.
Of course this means that humans being what they are; they have also fought over this stretch of land… forever. Most notably the Turkish invasion has remained impregnated in the Bulgarian psyche and although the influence is visible everywhere, from architecture, to language, to food and folklore… The Bulgarians will deny it firmly.
Known at first by the name of Kyupria, “Primorsko” was founded in 1879 by four families who cleared the forest along the sandy beach and built their homes. In the vicinity there were two abandoned Circassian villages; but the inhabitants had fled back to Turkey fearing retribution. Although some Bulgarians did briefly populate these villages, they quickly decided that Kyupriya’s and its new pier was a better place to live. Fishing and trade were more realistic there and so, even with the danger of malaria from the Dyavolsko blato (Devil’s Swamp), Primosko was born.
Today it’s a modern town with a strong ecological agenda. The 10 kilometer long strip of beach is perfect with protected sandy hills; some amazing wild plants that grow in protected areas and on clear, sunny days with calm seas — small pink dolphins can be seen. North of Primosrko there is another famous beach – Perla (meaning Pearl) – that has unique dunes, silky soft sand and amazing surrounding nature with lovely forest trails. It’s also where those that enjoy camping can set down their stakes.
Visited mostly by Polish, Russian and Czech tourists with a smattering of German and French, Primorsko has a lot of Youth Camps. As such, the streets and sometimes beach can be temporarily over run with children of all ages in large groups. They swarm in and out like locusts. They do leave the beaches for good before noon making way for families and lovers to relax in the sun and surf. The beaches are well equipped with sun umbrellas, life guards, Café’s and bars. There are quiet stretches for those that want peace and then there is the younger party section.
But all the beaches had one sad thing in common. In the last 3-5 years they have all adopted a “no pets” policy.
All but one.
Like all the other sections of the beach, the dog friendly spot has fine and golden sand. The sea is shallow, warm, with a sandy bottom. To access it, you have to follow the wooden path in front of the Prestige City II that takes you through the beautiful dunes. These dunes actually cover 500 000 square meters and are under state protection and the plants that grow there are as well. So stay on that wooden path!
Now it’s important to note that there is only ONE reason this dog friendly beach exists. His name is “Old Ben”; a cigarette smoking, beer drinking, animal loving life guard that is fighting tooth and nail to keep one section of the beach open to dogs.
Why? Because he really wants to be able to take his own dog to work. How sweet is that?
So how does this work?
Although Ben can’t bring his own dog to work without losing his job; he has decided that he is simply not going to enforce the “No Pets” policy on “his” stretch of beach. A huge risk for him but one he is willing to take. So far they have left him alone. We are ever so grateful to Ben for going to bat for beloved canines and their owners. He’s right. There is no reason why there can’t be a single section that does allow pets; when so many others do not. This is a problem I have seen over and over again and find infuriating.
So thank you “Old Ben” for speaking up and for holding your ground. For fighting the good fight. We hope they hear you. With foreigners travelling more and more with their pets, and the large number of pets we met downtown on vacation in Primorsko – I would argue that a pet friendly beach is a must.
What was a day in Priomosko on the Black Sea like?
Our days were enchanting. We would wake up and after getting dressed, splashing our faces with water and brushing our teeth (yes me too!); the bipeds and I would walk up the street to find one of many local breakfast treasures.
- Choice #1 was often the HUGE French style crepes filled with banana and chocolate spread.
- Choice #2 was the divine apple filled filo pastries.
- And Dad would have his first espresso of the day from the automated machines. A little ritual that always made him smile.
You see this was a weird and wonderful discovery. Automated coffee is usually disgusting and Dad is a coffee snob so he wasn’t even going to try it. But one day our hostess Radmila insisted and bought him an espresso. To be polite he drank it. And … wouldn’t you know it? The espresso was (and I quote) “Freakin’ EXCELLENT!” … So for the equivalent of 25 cents, Dad could indulge in his habit as often as he liked. And trust me … he did.
We would then head back to where our B&B (dog friendly and costing about $10 per person a night) was and across the street from it we would wait at a Café that served a great breakfast (Dad always needed more “real” food), had free Wi-Fi, illy coffee and the best fresh juice slushies’ Mom had ever tasted. Her favorites were: cantaloupe and apricot. There the bipeds would turn on their iPhones, update friends, family and FB while enjoying the first warm rays of sun while waiting for our hosts to rise and shine.
Eventually we would hear Pepi, and we’d see them crossing the street to join us and we’d discuss possible plans. The discussion was often relatively short. Dad unfortunately, had the flu and needed to recover. The desire to relax and sit on the beach was overwhelming. Other times, a day trip to a nearby site or town would be agreed upon. It was very much a “go with the flow” itinerary. We had accepted that we would not see it all and we were ok with that. This was a vacation!
In the evening, after a day on the beach or site seeing nearby, we’d always return to Primorsko and our host Slavko would park the car in the parking lot conveniently located near our B&B. We’d all freshen up and head out to find some dinner. Primorsko has a large variety of restaurants and we always found one we liked. Our favorite was a seafood place up the street from “our” Café that served fresh fish, ice cold beer, a kick-ass coleslaw salad and the most amazing fish soup you’ve ever tasted. We tried to get the recipe for you Dear Reader, but the chef wouldn’t let us have it. I tried. I did. I even begged.
Primosrko’s main stretch really comes alive at night as tons of locals and tourists go for a post dinner walk nearly turning the street into a pedestrian area. The shops stay open late as a result. If you like bargains you’ll love it! Mom found a cute pair of shoes for about $9, postcards were 10 cents and souvenirs were often under $2. The best thing we found was a candy shop called Don Bonbon that had authentic Turkish delight. Not the Americanized stuff you find in Canada and the USA. No… The REAL thing! Mom got so excited she bought some… And the next day went back and bought 3 rolls to bring home! She had not tasted the authentic stuff since she had been a small child living in Turkey. This was really special for her.
Some restaurants had folklore singers and musicians, some places had fire walkers others had … Mmmmm how shall I put this… “Girls”… dancing on the bar (dressed mind you!) all of this usually outside under the stars. Best of all, I was welcome anywhere.
So it’s true, the town itself is certainly nothing spectacular. There are no beautiful buildings, there is no astonishing architecture. There are no castles, or Churches to blow your mind. But … The beaches are truly stellar and there is much to do if you wish. Boat cruises, sailing, diving, picnicking, hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, trekking in the mountains, visiting bronze age sites, going to restaurants to try local foods or clubs for those that want to dance the night away. And Primorsko is close to many other small towns worth a visit.
You will not get bored.
People there are just … really nice.