Countries, Deals, Europe

Bulgar me that’s a deal

Plus ca change as they say around the Black Sea… or roughly translated Bulgar me that’s a deal.

It was the same 25 years ago when a work colleague pointed us eastwards to Bulgaria where she guaranteed the best budget holiday ever.

And for value TUI and Sunny Beach can’t be beaten with a family we met there revealing that they were on their second holiday there of the year.

It was a good time too to get out of Dodge, or Breakdown Britain as it was known then.

Tiara Ta-ra Princess Di: And a poignant year

In the wake of Princess Diana’s death.

Spend seven nights at the 2* Jupiter hotel. Fly from Dublin on 1st September with 15kg luggage, transfers and breakfast included each day.

Book online or visit your local TUI store/Agent from just €369pps.

Medieval days

For the ages: Sozopol

Now the sell on Sunny Beach is in the title and no harm here…

You deserve your break on a hot stretch of sand on the Black Sea.

But if you’re like us you’ll want to get a flavour of who the Bulgarians are and what they’re all about.

Deal us in: Our Bulgaria party

For us it was the old town of Sozopol where our taxi driver was waiting at the hotel.

He let us have our day and dinner in the medieval town before picking us up.

Personal chauffeur more like it.

For you it’ll be Nessebar.

Classic holiday

Dip your toe in: With The Son and Heir in Bulgaria

Just a 15-minute drive away from your resort, Nessebar is a UNESCO-listed town which was founded by the Thracians.

The Greeks and Romans then put up temples for Apollo and chunky fortress walls.

There’s also an Ottoman-style Medieval Basilica to see.

And it’s all jockeying for position on a tiny, near-circular peninsula.  

They’ve all been here

One of their own: Bulgarian kids and The Son and Heir

Of course the Ancients aren’t the only empire which found Bulgaria too irresistible to leave.

And whether the Russian writing on the old swimming changing rooms on the beaches is still there is doubtful.

Twenty-five years from when we visited.

But now that they’re being harried out of Crimea.

Russian sunworshippers are probably getting their brochures out for what was their Costa Del Pravda.

Wherever you’re from though you’re probably desperate for a holiday.

After two years of Covid and Bulgar me that’s a deal which TUI are offering.


Asia, Countries, Europe

Old Man Frost a gift to the world

I’ve been hearing it for years, my father-in-law Old Man Frost a gift to the world.

Only the truth is it’s not that it’s not him, the train enthusiast we know as Yorkshire’s Casey Jones.

No, this Old Man Frost is actually called Ded Moroz and he’s coming your way.

If you live in East Europe or South-East Europe that is.

Ded Moroz

Old Man Frost, Old Woman Frost… and Coolio J

I’m indebted to my buddy Peter for flagging up that Old Man Frost (no, not mine) is on the move.

Though I suspect he didn’t see him first hand on the Russian Metro.

Ded Moroz’s story does indeed start in Russia but long, long ago… before Christianity.

Frostie the Showman

Blue for you: Old Frostie

Ded (let’s just call him Frostie) lives in Veliky Ustyug, 500 miles north of Moscow.

And Russian families make pilgrimages there which is probably where we found him on the train.

And, yes, you can see for yourself, but this is the dress code for your Frostie.

His fur coat is ankle long and is embroidered with silvery stars and crosses.

And his hat should be red and embroidered with pearls.

Frostie wears mittens and a wide white belt. He has high boots with silver ornamentation, but on an exceptionally chilly day can opt for valenki!

And he carries a twisted pikestaff made of silver or crystal.

It is said to help the oul fella weave his way through the deep dark forest in the winter.

Kids often tease Ded Moroz calling him “Ded Moroz the Red Nose.”

And his young helper

Two for the price of one: And an Ice Maiden

Note here that our Frostie is not so easily teasable.

And who is Frostie’s young helper here?

Well, none other than Snegurochka, the Ice Maiden, his granddaughter.

And again we have one of them here who is the apple of her grandfather’s eye.

They travel wide and far

The new Old Frostie and his Little Helper

Frostie is a bit of a shape-shifter… I know all about them from the fjords.

And you can find versions of Frostie and his little helper across the former Soviet Union.

The real thing: Bandanaman and buddie

And in Bulgaria and in the Slavic countries in the Balkans.

I dare say if I were to go back to Bosnia & Herzegovina at this time of the year I’d see Old Frostie.

Old Man Frost on the move

Another West v East battle: Santa v Frostie

So with the bottom of our trees empty a thought on where the gifts are still waiting to be handed out.

Santie is having a well-deserved rest back in Lapland but Old Frostie is on the move.

Yes, that Old Man Frost a gift to the World.



Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Oh Diana! And she liked a Sunny Beach too

She was more Barbados than Bulgaria but Oh Diana, you did like a Sunny Beach.

And what does this possibly have to do with TUI?

And their Black Friday savings of €250 per booking, running from yesterday (my birthday, and thank you) with free amends on Black Friday bookings.

The BLK100 will save you €100 when you spend €1,000, BLK175 €175 when you fork out €2,500 and BLK259 for a spend of €3,500.

Great Aunt Bulgaria

Well, Bulgaria was where we, as a family, took refuge from the cloying, smothering public grief for Princess Diana back in 1997.

Little did we know when we booked our TUI holiday earlier in the summer, and every year then, we’d be leaving behind us a country in an emotional breakdown.

It could, of course, been any sunspot that gave us respite.

But this being Eastern Europe and only a few years after the Iron Curtain there was a sense that She wasn’t the saint here that she was in the West.


They had problems of their own trying to develop a more capitalist society out of state-controlled Socialism.

And it was all too evident on the Black Sea beaches where Russian writing was scrolled on the changing room doors.

And in the main square in Bulgaria’s second city, Varna,, where a customer in front of us in the bank handed over his gun on entry.

While outside old Eastern European women in shawls, baggy jumpers, grey skirts and brown shoes lined the square.

Scales of justice

All with weighing scales in front of them. All of which made me wonder how the old women in the middle ever made a living.

And why this was even a thing.

Happy as a sand boy

Money was tight, obviously, and the driver who took us to Sebastopol waited there all day to collect us.

And turned up at our hotel the next day early asking if he could take us back.

But while it was dear for the locals on Bulgarian wages it was great value for tourists.

Save for another day

And one British couple we met had saved so much on their previous Bulgarian holiday that year they had come back that September for more.

Water thrill: The Aquahotel

We returned, of course, to a Britain grieving vicariously for an idol most had never met.

Not Diana’s fault but an excess of self-indulgence all the same and one well captured in the latest Netflix series of The Crown.

Diana days

Diana’s death and funeral were times we, all of us who lived through them, can remember specifically where we were.

And should you feel the need to jump ship and get out from new madness in the UK then Bulgaria is still a haven and great value.

And particularly with TUI who are offering seven nights all-inclusive on July 5 at the 4* Aqua Hotel Nevis, Sunny Beach.

It’s a deal

Dublin to Bulgaria from 2+1 €2339, 2+2 €3199 (both prices include a free child place).

All part of my old friends‘ Black Friday package of deals for 2021 to signal next year’s bounce back.

Worth weighting for!