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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Day 8, Last Day of our Family Vacation -- Our Day in a Resort Town


On Monday we flew back from Bulgaria, to an airport relatively far from my house and quite near a resort town. I had never been to this resort town before, other than once in the middle of the night on the way to the airport on my way to Belgium. It's a decently long way from my home- by bus it is 3 buses and between 5 and 6 hours of travel, and I was told by many that it is ridiculously overpriced, too touristy, and cheaper to go abroad.

So I've never been there as a tourist. But then we were flying back from Bulgaria and landing at around 4 pm, and I figured instead of making the journey home and getting back late at night, I'd extend the trip and take my family to this resort town for the first time. But, of course, try to do it on the cheap.


I found a cheap place for our family to stay, but as I wrote in my previous post, it was far from high end, and after 7 days "in the lap of luxury" in Bulgaria, it was quite the let down for myself and my kids. I had some ideas about what I wanted to do in that city, since it is known for its beaches with coral reefs and beautiful fish. I had the kids pack their bathing suits, hoping that it might be warm enough to swim (as it often is in December) but while we were there it was too chilly to swim.


I did, however, want to view the marine life there. There is a unique aquarium with good views of the corals and marine life, and I thought that that would be something great to go to, and put it on my potential to do list, but to be honest, I didn't even bother checking out the prices, but just checked now, and it would have been $120 for the family.




I posted in a local group asking for suggestions of things to do there as a tourist that were bus accessible and on a budget, and people suggested taking a ride in a glass bottomed boat. I went on a glass bottomed boat in Greece and it was lovely, even if the "glass" portion of it wasn't so big, and there wasn't so much to see under the water. The people in the group mentioned that groupon had tickets for cheaper rides on glass bottom boats, and I saw that it was only $11.15 per person for a 2 hour ride, so $55.75 for the 5 of us for 2 hours. I decided that this would be the one thing I'd spend money on, and the rest we'd just sight see.

We walked to the marina, giving us plenty of time along the way to have fun and snap pictures, and oh boy did we do that.


Along the boardwalk there was a person with a bunch of bubble making equipment. I told my children at first that we weren't going to do that, as that wasn't where I was spending my money, but the guy running it told me it was free, that the municupality was paying for it, so then I told them to go ahead.


The kids all had a great time making huge bubbles...


I took so many pictures of them at it, but it's so hard to snap pictures right as the bubbles are being made, and to see them in pictures.


Every kid enjoyed it...


And to be honest, so did I!


Totally glad we came early so we had enough time to spend there.


We snapped some more pictures along the beach. Some people were swimming, but I don't know how they weren't too cold.


Eventually we got to the marina.


The glass bottomed boat was named the Galaxy, so if you know where I live and where I vacationed, I recommend them. They were great priced through Groupon, and we all got some free lemonade from a store nearby while we waited, as part of our deal.


The boat had three levels, the top deck, the middle deck, and the under water deck.

We stayed on the top deck most of the time, as we had a boat tour of the area, and an explanation of everything that was nearby.


Then we went down below when we floated over the coral reefs.


Pictures are blurry, because it is hard to photograph through glass and then through water, while moving.


But though the pictures hardly showed it, we did see a great amount of fish. Most of them were a blue silver, swimming by in schools. We saw some black fish with yellow fins. We saw one that I think was a parrotfish.


We saw lots of jellyfish.


I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the colors of the corals, as many of them seemed just brown, some yellow and green, no vibrant colors. But I do remember that corals around the world are dying and we should just be happy that these corals are alive, and not complain about the colors.


Find Dory!


It was cool to finally see corals in real life.

The boat's captain gave the kids each a chance to "steer" for a photo op.


So of course all the kids did it...


Who wore it best? Hahaha...


The kids complained that they couldn't really steer, because he was holding the wheel the whole time. Oh well.


We had a nice time relaxing on the top deck, snacking, listening to music...


A great way to spend 2 hours...


But wait- it's not over yet!


The captain told us to go again below deck because there were dolphins swimming along with the ship.


Most of the time these dolphins were swimming right at the very bow of the boat so we were only able to see their tails...


We saw as many as three dolphins swimming with us!


These were the best two I took, as well as the last!


It was awesome to see them swimming like that in their natural habitat!

We came up on the deck and then saw the dolphins flipping in the air. We were told that they do this not because they're trained, but to help relieve itchiness. I have no idea if that's true or not.


And then we were back on shore.

2 hours well spent! We bumped into a friend right before we went on our boat ride, she and her family had booked a different boat ride, and our captain told us to compare. Apparently the dolphins come this close only to our boat, which made me glad we went with this one.

After that, we had some extra time before it got dark, so I decided to see if we could go to this other area where I heard you could come up close to dolphins.

We took the bus there, and I saw how ridiculously expensive it was to even go inside. And I saw what else they had on offer.

[They basically have 4 captive dolphins that they let you do things with. Swim with them, snorkel with them, pet them. And I realized that even if I had all the money in the world, I wasn't comfortable with this exploitation of animals. If I felt they were doing it for conservation, like zoos do, that would be different. This seemed just like a way to make money off these animals, and I ended up being really glad that the dolphins we saw, the ones that were playing with our boat, were free, and able to come and go as they please.] ETA: Apparently I was wrong about this, these dolphins are free and come there by choice. Glad to know that. Keeping this here because I'm not dirty deleting. But I do maintain that the price is ridiculous.

So then we went back to the apartment. I considered going out again that night, but by that point, we were on day 8 of our vacation and the kids were getting cranky and I was getting tired, and I said we got to do the best of what this city has to offer- a boat ride, corals, fish, dolphins, and a tour of the area. That is more than enough. We can go home.

And honestly, I don't think I'll be back, other than as a stop on the way to the airport. It was ok, but you get so much more for your money when going to places like Bulgaria, that I'd rather do that than spend money in a tourist trap like this.

The next day, instead of going out and doing more touring, I decided enough was enough, and as soon as we packed up, we headed back home.

It was a great trip overall, and I'm glad we did this glass bottom boat, and I'm glad I can say we checked out this city... and I will continuing doing my vacationing abroad.

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