A STORY OF SEARCHING FOR NIRVANA IN NESSEBAR, BULGARIA
The Pearl of the Black Sea. Here was somewhere where she could forget about all the troubles in the world, and all the troubles in her world too.
This was about as far east as she could go in the European Union. Across the Black Sea, Russia was carving the Crimea away from the Ukraine, civil war was continuing to rip Syria apart beyond Turkey and further south refugees were pouring across the Mediterranean Sea into Greece. The world around her was in turmoil, mirroring her own current state.
Nina looked out over the pure blue water. Across the bay she could see the crowded golden beaches, crammed with tourists soaking up the sun rays. If Louise had been with her they would have been there too, lounging around, splashing in the water. All very romantic. But then Ines had arrived on the scene.
That was in the past, Nina brushed it off, determined to forget them. The holiday was already booked, so why not make the most of it, she thought. The empty seat next to her on the plane was a painful reminder, but once she had arrived in Nessebar it felt like she was in a different world.
The Old Town sat on an island, joined to the mainland by a man-made isthmus. Narrow cobbled streets meandered in crooked lines, old brick buildings packed onto every spare inch of the land. There was evidence of civilisations occupying the area from ancient Thrace, Greek, Roman and Byzantine times. Nina could smell the musty history in the air.
This is what she needed. Some time alone to think about bigger things than her own pitiful love life. That was partly why she was avoiding the beach. She wasn’t interested in the flirtatious looks and chat up lines from the men, or the women for that matter, although away from the capital, Sofia, same-sex relationships were still kept hidden in much of Bulgaria.
She passed church after church. She’d read in one of the guidebooks that Nessebar had the highest number of churches per capita in the world. Wandering around she could believe it. It was a reminder of the importance of religion that still held sway here, and another reminder that if her sexual preferences were known, they would be frowned upon. Such a shame for such a beautiful part of the world to still be mired in repression.
A small shop caught her attention, selling local clothes and cloths. She walked over and started browsing the garments outside. Through the open store front she could see an elderly lady sat behind a till. She was talking away to someone, who was hidden from view. Nina couldn’t understand the language, but it was clear whoever it was was in trouble with the matriarch.
The back of a person came into view. The woman at the till handed them some money and shooed them out the door, sending them on some errand. As the girl turned, Nina felt something in her stir. The dark eyes, dark hair and olive skin, the petite frame and toned legs, the denim shorts and the crop top revealing smooth shoulders.
As she came towards Nina their eyes met. The girl gave her a smile, a shrug of acknowledgement for the row that Nina had just witnessed. There gaze held for a second longer than necessary. As they passed each other the narrow gap between the racks of clothes meant their shoulders rubbed together briefly. Nina caught the intoxicating scent of sun cream and perfume.
Nina turned to watch the girl walk away. Well, she thought, I am on holiday and there’s nothing against admiring a view. She took a few steps after the girl.
The girl turned and looked back. Nina was caught in the act of stepping onto the street to follow her. She had nowhere else to look. You idiot, Nina thought. But the girl only smiled, turned and carried on walking. Nina decided to follow for a bit longer. After all, wasn’t she entitled to a bit of an adventure, even if was to lead nowhere.
Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.
Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today its Nessebar on the Black Sea in Bulgaria – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.
Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.
For a full list of stories and places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.