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Ever wondered how is it like to work on one of the biggest cruise ships in the world? This is my experience, my life and my view as an employee on one of the many cruise ships sailing around the world.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Traveling to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach – Things to do
I recently traveled to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach resort, for my honeymoon and as I always like to do, I made notes about my experience there so I can share it with all of you and maybe be of help to the ones planning to see this beautiful country. This will be a series of articles about my experiences in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach, some good, some not so good, but as always, I will try and keep it objective and to the point. For all of you complainers out there, please keep in mind that I am not advertising this as an absolute truth, I am merely putting my personal experiences and opinions on virtual paper. I would also like to note that although most of the things I will write about in these articles are related to the Sunny Beach resort, a lot of the information is general and can be applied to other Bulgarian seaside resorts. So, here we go....

Traveling to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach – Things to do

This is a list of things you must do while you are vacationing in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. Take advantage of all this beautiful country has to offer and don't spend all your time there drinking and sleeping, once you got back home you might regret you haven't done it. So here it goes, in no particular order:
  1. Aqua Park
If you're vacationing with your kids, this is the perfect place to take them and spend the whole day.
  1. visit the old town of Nesebar
Pay 1 leva and take the bus to the old town of Nesebar where you can visit the old ruins, walk on the narrow streets and shop for beautiful souvenirs.
  1. have your portrait done
Bulgaria has amazing artists and for a small fee they will do your and your family portrait. You don't even have to be there, just leave a picture of you and other family members you want in the picture and the artist will put them together and make a family portrait. It's amazing. A portrait will cost you betwee 30 and 200 levas depending of how many people you want in the picture.
  1. live shows
You must go and see a Bulgarian fire dancer shows. There are lots of live concerts and shows around, but this one is a must see. Take a walk through the resort during the day to find out where it plays or, if you feel lazy, just as at the hotel reception.
  1. water sports
And least but not last, if you're by the sea side you must try the water sports. Bulgaria is affordable enough for you to try them all, don't miss the opportunity.

As always, I hope this was helpful to you all.

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posted by Ariana @ 6:22 PM   12 comments

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Traveling in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach – 10 tips on eating and drinking on a budget
I recently traveled to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach resort, for my honeymoon and as I always like to do, I made notes about my experience there so I can share it with all of you and maybe be of help to the ones planning to see this beautiful country. This will be a series of articles about my experiences in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach, some good, some not so good, but as always, I will try and keep it objective and to the point. For all of you complainers out there, please keep in mind that I am not advertising this as an absolute truth, I am merely putting my personal experiences and opinions on virtual paper. I would also like to note that although most of the things I will write about in these articles are related to the Sunny Beach resort, a lot of the information is general and can be applied to other Bulgarian seaside resorts. So, here we go....

Traveling in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach – 10 tips on eating and drinking on a budget

I love food and everywhere in the world I went i liked experiencing the local cuisine. I've met people in my travels who couldn't go outside their food habits and I've always felt sorry for them, they had no idea what they missed. Don't make the same mistake, if you're in a foreign country try and taste their local cuisine, you might be surprised how good it is, even if it's different that what you are used to.

Traveling to Bulgaria was no difference to me when it came to food and drink habits. I always go for the local restaurants, for the local food (working in hospitality i am kinda sick and tired of the restaurant food, turist food as we call it). I also have all sorts of tips on how you can make the most of your money and enjoy everything that Bulgarian resorts have to offer you, even on a small budgets.

So here they are, from 1 to 10:
  1. The most important rule of all, always ask the locals
I can emphasize more how helpful will be for you to just ask the locals for the best places to eat or drink. The locals know best where you should or shouldn't go for a meal or drinks.
  1. Local restaurants are always cheap and fresh
Since you're in a foreign country you should try their food. The local restaurants are always the best option for fresh and cheap food. You can distinguish local restaurants by the lack of flashy neon signs and annoying greeters.
  1. Go away from the main street bars and restaurant
There are a lot of good restaurants outside the main streets, you just have to explore your area during the day and locate them. The only difference between them and the main street ones are the price, mainly due to the lower rental fees and location. The service is great everywhere you go in Bulgarian sea side.
  1. Street food is always ready available and fresh
Nothing compares with a hot sandwich or kebab after a long night of drinking and dancing. The street food is always ready available, open 24 hours and the food is always fresh and inexpensive. Try it.

  1. Beachfront is the most expensive place of the Bulgarian resorts
Needless to say that you will get the same level of service and quality outside the beachfront area so don't waste your money thinking that if it's expensive it's the best. It's not really...
  1. Make use of the kitchenette and the 24 hours mini markets
If you stay in an apartment complex like we did you will have a small kitchenette and a 24 hours mini market next to your building so make good use of it. Food in markets in Bulgaria is extremely inexpensive (even for me as a Romanian) and it's always great to have breakfast in bed or just a snack without having to get all dressed up and go in a restaurant.
  1. ask bartenders for the daily happy hour
Almost every bar in Bulgarian resorts have a happy hours, it's just a matter of asking the bartenders or the servers when it is and which drinks are included. Few will be proactive and recommend you those, instead they will try to take as much of your money as they can so it's better to ask.
  1. There is happy hour for food as well in Bulgaria
I haven't seen this much in my travels, but I've seen it often in Bulgaria. A lot of the restaurants, trying to bring in more customers, will post happy hours for their food menu. Check them out in your morning walk and choose what you would like to eat.

  1. Daily offers
The restaurant business is very competitive and every restaurant tries to attract turists with their daily offers on food and drinks. The all have the menus posted outside so take a look around, I am sure you will find something that you like, I did.
  1. Bring water and snacks with you at the beach
There is one thing that is never missing from my purse wherever I go (besides my phone :-D ) and that's always a bottle of water. Bring your own water when you go to the beach, don't pay a fortune at the beack bars for a glass of water. The same works with the snacks.

This said I would like to remind you that your budget related decisions should enhance your vacation experience not ruin it and sometimes choosing cheap is not always smart. Sometimes is good to just take your significant other out to a fancy restaurant and make her or him feel special and don't worry about the check. We did exactly that with the money we saved eating and drinking the smart way.

I hope this was helpful to you all.

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posted by Ariana @ 6:25 PM   4 comments

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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Travelling in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach - 6 tips on cutting back your expenses Part II
I recently travelled to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach resort, for my honeymoon and as I always like to do, I made notes about my experience there so I can share it with all of you and maybe be of help to the ones planning to see this beautiful country. This will be a series of articles about my experiences in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach, some good, some not so good, but as always, I will try and keep it objective and to the point. For all of you complainers out there, please keep in mind that I am not advertising this as an absolute truth, I am merely putting my personal experiences and opinions on virtual paper. I would also like to note that although most of the things I will write about in these articles are related to the Sunny Beach resort, a lot of the information is general and can be applied to other Bulgarian seaside resorts.

So, here we go....

Travelling cheap in Bulgaria - Part II

This is the second part of a series of advices on how to have a great time in Bulgaria, particularly in Sunny Beach, without emptying your bank accounts. As I said on the part I, this is experience gathered from years of travelling around the world when I experienced both 5* way of living (while in Europe) and the backpacker's way of life (when I was in Thailand) adapted to the Bulgarian resorts.

So here we go, the last 6 tips:

1. How to use the 5* hotels beach facilities without staying there

I personally haven't tried this, but a lot of tourists told me that if you go to any 4 or 5* hotel, sit by the bar and have a drink you can then use their lounge chairs, pools and other facilities. I was pretty happy with the pool and bar I had at my apartment complex and didn't feel the need to go there, but if you are like my sister and like the glamour life, then that's a cheap way of getting it.

2. Lounge chairs versus beach towels

And again, want a sun lounge? Get a drink at any 4 or 5* hotel and you'll get it for free. Don't use the sun lounges on the beach they are extremely expensive, not worth it. Another option would be to just bring a large beach towel and sit on it, that's if you really really want to feel the sand under your feet and swim in the sea water.

3. The closer you are to the beach the more expensive it gets

I used to joke with my husband that there must be an equation that calculates how much more expensive things get the more you get closer to the beach front. It's true, drinks, food,everything gets so much more expensive when you reach the beach front. Go just 50 meters away and you'll pay half for your beer and food and get the same good service and quality.

4. Street food is always fresh, tasty and cheap

Nothing beats street food. Everywhere in the world I've been, street food is tasty, fresh and cheap. Choose the places where you see the locals eat or ask any locals for their favorite places. Bulgaria is no exception and you can have the most delicious pastry, pizza or kebabs at the local street food stalls. Mmmm, i am getting hungry now :-)

5. How to read your emails for free

If you are addicted to the virtual world of Internet like I am you will need to read your emails a few times per day, work or just check the latest news from your country. Instead of being stuck in a little room called Internet center or pay a fortune on roaming services, combine work with pleasure and choose to go to bars and restaurants who have free wi-fi. I used to bring my Ipad to the local corner bar, have a beer and check the news. Perfect!

6. Public transport

Yes, even in beach resorts exists a public transportation system. In Bulgaria it's well organized and clean and the prices are 3-4 sometimes 10 times cheaper. Taxis in Bulgaria are not one of my recommendation, the drivers charge you extra just because you're not a local.

All that said, would like to emphasize that choosing the cheaper option should not ruin your holiday experience so sometimes choosing the expensive option would be a better wiser choice. The above is how I chose to spend my holiday and be left with more money to buy gifts for my family and souvenirs for me.

As always, I hope this was helpful to you.

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posted by Ariana @ 9:19 PM   0 comments

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Travelling in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach - 6 tips on cutting back your expenses PART I
I recently traveled to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach resort, for my honeymoon and as I always like to do, I made notes about my experience there so I can share it with all of you and maybe be of help to the ones planning to see this beautiful country. This will be a series of articles about my experiences in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach, some good, some not so good, but as always, I will try and keep it objective and to the point. For all of you complainers out there, please keep in mind that I am not advertising this as an absolute truth, I am merely putting my personal experiences and opinions on virtual paper. I would also like to note that although most of the things I will write about in these articles are related to the Sunny Beach resort, a lot of the information is general and can be applied to other Bulgarian seaside resorts. So, here we go....

Traveling cheap in Bulgaria - Part I

I was lucky enough to have a comfortable life and never really be short of money, well, except during college when i would spend all of it partying :-). But even as it is, I never liked to throw money out of the window sort of speak and value for money was always important to me and now even more because I am married and with big plans for the future.

If you are planning to holiday in Bulgaria but your budget isn't unlimited, then read below my way of having a great time and not empty the bank accounts. This is experience gathered from years of travelling around the world when I experienced both 5* way of living (while in Europe) and the backpacker's way of life (when I was in Thailand) adapted to the Bulgarian resorts.

So lets get on with it:
  1. Take a walk during the day to locate the best places to go at night
Most of the bars and clubs advertise their night programs and sales starting from the morning so take a walk after breakfast and chose the best options for the night.
  1. Don't be shy to ask
The best advice I can give you is to ask the locals. I use to stay by the bar and chat to the bartenders asking them for the best places to visit, eat or even where is it better to go if I should need a doctor. Do the same.
  1. Back street shopping
For every main shopping street out there, there are a few back shopping streets adjacent to them. You'll be surprised how the same items, just because they are sold on a smaller street, are much cheaper.
  1. Choose an apartment complex instead of a hotel
Bulgarian seaside is a mix of hotels, all-inclusive compounds and apartment complexes. The best place where you can stay in my opinion are the apartment complexes, they are so much cheaper, you get to have a kitchenette, a pool, most of the times a restaurant and a bar at the first floor and they all have a 24 hours mini market near by.
  1. 24 Hours mini markets
And since I mentioned the 24 hours mini markets earlier, those are the best money savers. I didn't want to wake up and go out for breakfast anyways, not after a night of drinking and dancing, so I always made sure I buy my water, drinks and food when I came back from downtown and save on eating out. Besides, how nice is to have coffee on the balcony and admire the sunrise?
  1. Meet for drinks at your place before going to clubs or bars
We call it the warm-up and it's been going on in our circle of friends since college. We used to meet at someone's place, have a few drinks, get in a good mood, then go to clubs or pubs, get a drink and continue to have fun without having to pay too much money on overpriced drinks. Same goes for Bulgaria, in some clubs, drinks can be as expensive as the entire bottle in the supermarket.

All that said, would like to emphasize that choosing the cheaper option should not ruin your holiday experience so sometimes choosing the expensive option would be a better wiser choice. The above is how I chose to spend my holiday and be left with more money to buy gifts for my family and souvenirs for me. You can read more ideas and advices in the second part. 

As always, I hope this will be useful to you.

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posted by Ariana @ 1:53 PM   0 comments

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Travelling in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach - 5 tips on exchanging currency

I recently traveled to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach resort, for my honeymoon and as I always like to do, I made notes about my experience there so I can share it with all of you and maybe be of help to the ones planning to see this beautiful country. This will be a series of articles about my experiences in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach, some good, some not so good, but as always, I will try and keep it objective and to the point. For all of you complainers out there, please keep in mind that I am not advertising this as an absolute truth, I am merely putting my personal experiences and opinions on virtual paper. I would also like to note that although most of the things I will write about in these articles are related to the Sunny Beach resort, a lot of the information is general and can be applied to other Bulgarian seaside resorts. So, here we go....


Exchanging currency in Bulgaria, Sunny Beach

Most of the people nowadays use credit cards in their travels, but now and then you will find yourself with some cash you would like to exchange to the local currency. It happened the same to us and we had to learn the hard way what to do and what not to do when exchanging money in Bulgarian resorts.

So here are a few guidelines that will help you safely exchange your currency and avoid scammers:

  1. Ideally, you should exchange enough currency while still home

That's the best practice in my opinion although even I forgot about it and then I just procrastinated and left it for when I reach Bulgaria. Needles to say that until we got at the hotel we had no money to pay for drinks or food or even taxi and we ended up paying in euros at double the price ( the taxi driver didn't want to take euros so we had to negotiate). Learn from my mistakes.

  1. Use the local banks

The safest way to exchange currency in Bulgaria is to go to a local bank. If you can't find one, just ask at the reception clerks, they will guide you to the closest bank agency. Another plus is that the banks have the best exchange rate, well, they did in Sunny Beach anyways.

  1. Use your hotel exchange office

Sometimes you just find out you need more money in the evening before going out and the banks are closed. So what can you do? Easy, use your hotel's exchange desk, it's just as safe as the banks are and the rates are not bad at all. If your hotel doesn't have one you can go to other hotels, we found out that all 4 & 5 stars hotels have an exchange office.

  1. Never exchange currency at the people in the street

Not so often you will see people, mostly men, waiting at the corner street advertising currency exchange. This is a BIG no no, no matter in which country you are, 99.9% of the time you will find you were scammed and there is nothing you can do about it. You've been warned...

  1. Avoid the yellow exchange cabins found at every corner

Almost at every crossroad you will see these yellow cabins with an exchange panel outside stating the currency rate, not two like you're used to at the bank, one for selling and one for buying, just one, written in big print. You'll also see that the rates are way more than what you will get at the bank. But wait! Look closer...can you see that written in very small print it says that they are buying the currency at those rates and not selling it? Well not everybody sees that and falls for the big exchange rate and when you get the money and notice that it's less than you thought you will get there is nothing you can do. The won't give you the money back and one tourist told me that they even ask the police nearby to intervene and got no reaction. My advise to you is to just pass by and ignore the yellow exchange cabins.

  1. Only the major currencies are exchanged and sometimes the neighborhood countries' currency

Like in any country, the exchange offices will only exchange the major currencies. I would have expected for them to exchange the neighboring countries' currency as well, like Romanian currency, but i was surprised to find out not all of them did, well most of them didn't actually. Luckily we had some euros left we could exchange.

I hope this was helpful to you, safe travels.

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posted by Ariana @ 1:21 PM   11 comments
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About Me
Name: Ariana
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About Me: Born in a small town, ended up working around the world. I love to socialize, see places, make new friends. Always there to help, even when nobody is asking for it :-)And now I am learning graphic design as well, check out my other blogs.
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