Europe, Travel

So far, Bulgaria has been a dream… Around every corner a surprise. Unfortunatly, the same can’t be said for our time in Sunny Beach. Don’t get me wrong, this place has it’s market – It’s great for the 18 – 30’s & great for affordable family holidays. However having spend almost two weeks in Bulgaria I won’t go back to Sunny Beach and here’s why;

It’s Expensive

Bulgaria is CRAZY CHEAP. However, compared to the rest of Bulgaria, Sunny Beach is expensive. Which makes sense because of it’s high tourism levels. However, compared to other coastal resorts in Bulgaria you’re likely to be paying twice, maybe even three times as much on absolutely everything!

Even in the neighbouring town of Nessebar prices tend to be more inline with the rest of Bulgaria. However, it’s worth mentioning here they are targeting the older end of the market with high end hotels, restaurants and cafés.

An hour or so north of Sunny Beach in Varna you’ll find prices similar to the other major cities of Bulgaria such as Sofia and Plovdiv.

It’s Inauthentic

Being the target of the tourism market meant it was really inauthentic. Again, I think having spent two weeks in the rest of Bulgaria the difference was really ‘in our faces’.

We’d gone from seeing Bulgarian signs and using Google Translate for everything to English signs EVERYWHERE. In fact there was not a Bulgarian word in sight. You’d think this would be to our delight, but actually the opposite. In fact, after 4 days the phrase ‘Happy Hour’ had well and truly lost all meaning – every hour is Happy Hour in Sunny Beach!


We also struggled to get any authentic Bulgarian dishes or traditional Bulgarian food in any bars, cafés or restaurants. Instead the market was flooded with Irish and English pub grub, McDonalds (we counted four), Subway and KFC.

Sunny Beach


Finally, in typical European fashion this was the first place in Bulgaria where we were faced with an astonishing amount of people (90% of which British 18 – 22) asking us if “we were looking for a good time?” or “Somewhere to eat”.

It’s Run Down

I’ve not seen so many huge empty buildings anywhere in Bulgaria. However, around every corner in Sunny Beach you found either a half built construction, or the remains of a nightclub bordered up.

Sunny Beach
We even found some abandoned, run down bars / restaurants on the beach.

If you’ve never been to Bulgaria, you probably think ‘well isn’t it all like that’ and honestly, yes and no. In the city the run down buildings have a sort of charm to them. Here they we’re building sites, construction zones, they stuck out like a sore thumb.


There we have it. My 3 reasons for not going back to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. As I mentioned, I know Sunny Beach has it’s place. I know plenty of people who love it – and rightly so. Five years ago, I’d have been the one out partying until 4am and would have no doubt written a post on how Sunny Beach is the party capitol of Europe etc.

It’s just unfortunate that five years later, I was looking for something else here and I really struggled to find it.

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Europe, Travel

It’s no secret that I’ve unexpectedly fallen in love with Bulgaria. During our short stay in Sunny Beach, we decided to walk to somewhere we’d heard so much about – Nessebar.

This UNESCO world heritage site is a magnet of history & culture. You don’t need to be a fan of architecture, history or religion to appreciate this place. It’s so exquisite I really believe that anyone could see it’s perfect beauty.

While you are able to stay in Nessebar, on this occasion it was out of our price range. Instead, here’s an idea of the things you can do in a trip of six hours or so;


Archaeological Museum

There’s a number of museums in Nessebar. The most predominant of which is the Archaeological museum. Set back on your right as you walk into the old town. Here you’re able to learn more about the history of the religions here. 

Entrance is 3lv for children and 6lv for adults. Audio guides are availableat an additional cost. If museums are you’re thing then you’re able to get a museum combined ticket from any of the museums that allows you to visit a number of, or all of the museums in Nessebar for one set price.



The Old Windmill

You’ll struggle to miss this old windmill at the side of the road as you head into Nessebar from Bugras or Sunny Beach. While this particular windmill is a reconstruction it was origionally designed to harvest the strong wind from the Black Sea.

 

Eco Bar

It’s pretty easy to walk past this place without realising. From the outside it simply looks like a cave, however inside is a whole different story. This modern bar offers a range of beverages and the greatest atmosphere in Nessebar.

Visit The Churches

I simply can’t write a post about Nessebar without mentioning it’s many churches. All of which are absolutely beautiful. Even if you’re not religions or ‘really into that kind of thing’ I’d suggest stopping by at least one of these places;
St Stephens Church
Church of Saint Sofia
Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel
Church of Christ Pantocrator
Church of the Assumption
Church of St. John the Baptist
Holy Savior Church
The Church of St. John Aliturgetos
Church of St. Paraskeva
Church of St. Theodore


Don’t get me wrong. Nessebar hasn’t escaped the mass of ‘tat’ shops you’ll find in it’s neighbouring sunny beach. However, I feel that even that isn’t enough to take away from the charm of this place. Have you been to Nessebar? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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Europe, Travel

Before our trip to Bulgaria, I knew nothing about the city of Plovdiv. However, it came to surprise us. The oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe is beautiful and charming – a must visit when coming to Bulgaria. 

European capital of the culture 2019 the city has undergone major investments within it’s tourism market – and it shows. Which is why I’ve put together my ultimate guide as to the 4 things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. These four things can be done over the space of two full days, however to really experience this city I’d suggest spending up to four days here. 

We stayed in Studio 18, outside of the city it was the cheapest private apartment we could find with fantastic transport links


Walking Tour

Plovdiv is steeped in 6,000 years of history. Which is why we loved the free Plovdiv tour. Run by the same company who runs the tour in Sofia this 2.5 hr tour takes you around the city and shares the history that you would otherwise struggle to realise. 

The tour happens daily (regardless of the weather) at 11am and 6pm and meets outside the Municipality building.

 

Did I mention how much I adore the beautiful architecture of Bulgaria. Check out the Municipality building in Plovdiv.

A post shared by Cora Harrison – TMM (@theminimillionaire) on

Ethnographic Museum

In the old town you’ll find the Ethnographic Museum, this beautiful, beautiful building provides displays collections of artefacts with ethnographic character on the territory of Plovdiv and the region. As well as permanent displays there’s also specialist exhibitions featuring; national traditional costumes, textiles and carpets, musical instruments and ritual properties.

The museum is open daily – except for Mondays. For more information visit the Ethnographic Museum website.

 

Ancient Theatre of Philipoppol

One of the greatest things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria has to be a trip to the Ancient Theatre of Philipoppol. Situated in the old town this is one of the best preserved ancient theatres in the world.

What I found particularly fascinating about this particular sight in Plovdiv is that it wasn’t rediscovered until the 1970’s – and subsequently reconstructed in the 1980’s.

The theatre was constructed in the 90’s of the first century AD. Used for gladiatorial and hunting games the theatre seated approximately 6,000 spectators. It was used until the end of the IV century. Now, it plays host to concerts and performances by opera singers and rock bands.

Nebet Tepe 

The name Plovdiv comes from the seven hills surrounding the city. The easiest to get to is Nebet Tepe. It provides the most beautiful panoramic view of Plovdiv and the surrounding hills. 

When you make it to the top of the hill you’re likely to see some scatter stones, and some bits of old wall. These are the remains of the earliest settlement in Plovdiv. Evidence has been found that the site was settled as early as 12th century BC.


There we have it. My favourite four things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. As always, I’d love to know what you’ve been doing in Plovdiv. Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add the very best to this guide. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out our daily vlog ‘Exploring Plovdiv, Bulgaria’

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Europe, Travel
We recently spent four wonderful days in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. This was our first stop on our digital nomad journey. To help others who are either visiting the city for tourism, or planning on spending some time here as a digital nomad. I’ve put together a short guide of the places to eat, drink & work in Sofia.

Barista Coffee & More

Without a doubt top of the list of places to eat, drink & work in Sofia has to be Barista Coffee & More. It isn’t by any means the cheapest place with coffees starting from 1.90 lev (£0.85). However, the amazing co-working environment with access to a printer and multiple plug sockets as well as an amazing atmosphere makes it all the more worthwhile.

Places to eat, drink & work in sofia bulgaria

Relax

Outside of the city centre of Sofia you have Relax. We opted to both eat, drink and work here on more than one occasion due to it’s close proximity to our hostel. Being outside of the city centre the prices are much more reasonable with drinks starting from 1.75 lev (£0.78) and lunch from 5 lev (£2.24). 

This isn’t the greatest place to work, the atmosphere although rather chilled has nightclub style music playing from as early as 10am. In contrast the vast amount of seating and outside terrace area makes this the perfect place to grab a cocktail and chill with friends. 



Spaghetti Kitchen

In a rush to upload the vlog whilst out and about in the city we called into Spaghetti Kitchen. This beautiful restaurant comes well recommended on TripAdvisor. While the restaurant is modern, spacious and open the place is rather dark. 

I certainly wouldn’t recommend sitting here and using your laptop while you lunch for any extended period of time. Again, much like Barista Coffee & More being in the city centre, and being popular with tourists this place isn’t the cheapest with two cokes costing the equivalent of £2.40.



I’ve put together a small map outlining the location of the different places mentioned in this post. As always if you’ve somewhere to add to this list feel free to contact me via email or on any of the social media platforms.

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Europe, Travel, Travel
Despite being one of the most affordable destinations in Europe. Sofia, Bulgaria is still packed with completely free activities. In fact, I think the vast majority of the very best things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria are actually completely free. 

Which is why I’ve put together this guide of my four favourite free things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Walking Tour

What better way to see the city of Sofia, than on a completely free walking tour. The tour departs from the courthouse in the city centre daily at 10am, 11am and 6pm – every day of the year, regardless of the weather!

The tour takes around two hours and is filled with photo ops, culture and history. If you’re only here for one day and manage to do one thing only. I’d make it this! Check out the Free Sofia Tour website to learn more

Balkan Bites

Balkan Bites is the very first free food tour in the world!

The tour starts at 2pm daily (excluding national holidays), it lasts around 2 hours and leaves from Park Crystal in front of the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The tour is very, very popular and only has a limited number of spaces available so try and arrive around 15 minutes before it’s due to leave to guarantee your spot.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia. Opened in 1912 the cathedral is free to enter.

Named after St. Alexander Nevski, a Russian Tsar who saved Russia from invading Swedish troops in 1240 and the patron saint of Tsar Alexander II, who was also referred to as Bulgaria’s Tsar Osvoboditel (Liberator), since it was his troops that finally brought about Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule. The foundation stone of Sofia’s biggest church was laid in 1882.

The Vitosha Mountain

Last on my list of free things to do in Sofia, but by no means least is Vitosha mountain. In the winter this can be a great place to ski and in the summer, a great place to hike.

Public transport is available to the summit of the mountain is available. Firstly, take the 9TM from the National Palace of Culture – get off at the last stop Hladilnika. Then you’ve got two options;

Bus 66: This will take you to Aleko. Just below the highest peak of the mountain this is the highest you’re able to get with public transport.

Bus 64: This will take you to nearby Boyana Church. From there you can choose the hiking paths to Boyana lake or Boyana waterfall.

While transport to get to the site is free, hiking the mountain itself costs nothing and is well worth a visit. 


There we have it. My favourite four free things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria. As always, I’d love to know what free things you’ve been doing in Sofia. Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add the very best to this guide. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out our daily vlog ‘The best of FREE in Sofia, Bulgaria’…

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Europe, Travel
We’ve recently started our digital nomad adventure. We caught the cheapest flight from the UK we could and ended up in the Balkans. More specifically, Bulgaria’s capitol of Sofia. 

This was our first time in the Balkans, and the start of what is set to be a complete lifestyle change for us. Budget was more essential than anything else. Which is why we opted for the cheapest accommodation we could find, this was 10 Coins Hostel. 

 

Trip Details

Dates: 6th June 2017 – 10th June 2017
Nights:
 4
Price We Paid Per Night: £13.14 (in lev at the time of conversion)
Room Type:
2 Beds in a 6 Bed Mixed Dorm
Booking Platform: 
Booking.com

Location

10 Coins Hostel is located a five minute walk from the metro station Han Kubrat. From there you can get to transport links such as the central station and bus station in less than 5 minutes and the centre of Sofia via Serdika II in 10 minutes. 


Each trip on the metro costs 1.60 lev no matter how far you’re going. So if you’re on a tight budget and think you might be heading into the city a lot it might be worth taking that into consideration and looking to see if you can get a hostel / hotel in walking distance from the city at a similar price. 

The hostel is based just outside of a small village, filled with a supermarket, some local restaurants and shops. Certainly a benefit of this is that eating out in the village compared to the city is much cheaper. 

The Room

We stayed in the six bed mixed dorm on the ground floor. The room was clean, but it was old and tired. The mattresses and bedding felt like it hadn’t been replaced in years. 

10 coins hostel sofia bulgaria

The room was functional. It had plug sockets, and a small table that was great for us to work at. My real bug about the hostel there was nowhere to lock away your belongings. All of the hostels I’ve previously stayed at had lockers (in one form or another) unfortunatly 10 coins had none.

At this point I think it comes down to what you want the hostel for. Somewhere to rest for one night? Then I really think this does the job. If you’re looking to explore the city over a few days, then maybe not… 

Facilities

Each floor of the hostel had one bathroom and one kitchen. On the ground floor the majority of our space was taken up with the reception and the dorms for the volunteers who work to ensure the hostel check-in is available 24/7. This meant we had a much smaller kitchen. 

The kitchen did however have the basics; a microwave, fridge and one hot plate. Again all of these features were highly outdated. As a guest of the hostel you’re welcome to use any of the kitchen / bathroom facilities on the other floors but we didn’t see a need to do so.

The hostel also came with complimentary wifi. The internet speed in Bulgaria is fantastic and the hostel was no exception.



In conclusion 10 Coins Hostel, Sofia is a great place for a couple of nights. Certainly if you plan to spend the majority of your time out exploring the city. 

However, it has the potential to be a GREAT hostel. With a few small investments into new modern appliances and beds. 
 
For the time being I’m going to say that I wouldn’t stay here again. I’d like to see what other hostels in Sofia have to offer in comparison to really see how great this place is.

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Europe, Travel

Earlier this year I decided to surprise Helen for her birthday with a four night getaway to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. This is the fifth time I’d been to Gran Canaria, and the second time Helen and I have been together. In fact it was our first ever holiday destination as a couple two and a half years earlier.

While the flights were super cheap the cost of accommodation in the area in which we like to visit (Playa Del Ingles) seemed to be higher than usual. All this forced me to think outside of the box and find the best possible deal I could. I do love a challenge.

In the end we ended up visiting The Anamar Suites. This was without a doubt the best place we have ever stayed while in Gran Canaria, and still well within budget – so it seemed only fitting to dedicate a complete review to the hotel. 



Trip Details

Dates: 22nd January 2017 – 26th January 2017
Nights:
 4
Price We Paid Per Night: £73.51
Room Type:
Double
Booking Platform:
Expedia


Location

The Anamar Suites had the most perfect location for us personally. This wasn’t a sightseeing holiday. Instead we just wanted to sit by the pool and relax. It was a five minute walk to the beach for that midday stroll.

A five minute walk in the other direction and you’ll arrive at The Yumbo Centre. Filled with bars, restaurants, clubs and that holiday essential… Mini Golf.

The airport’s a thirty minute drive, so you’re going to want to arrange a transfer, hire car or a taxi. 

 

The Room

To save money on food we opted to stay in one of the self-catering apartments. Our room was on the fourth floor and was a great size.

Despite booking a double the beds were two singles – I don’t mind pushing them together and it allows for greater flexibility on the hotels part. The room came with a really large balcony, and a fully equipped kitchen. 

You can view more of the room we had at The Anamar Suites from our Youtube videos during our time in Gran Canaria.

 

Facilities

Wifi at this hotel was extra. It cost €16 for 4 days, and was just ‘okay’. I mean what more can you expect from a tiny island right? It was enough to reply to emails and check Facebook. Unfortunatly, it couldn’t upload videos to Youtube or anything like that.

The swimming pool had been recently refurbished. It’s a little on the small side but I never saw more than two people using it at any one time whilst we were there. Things might be different during the school holiday’s though…

On the other side of the accommodation there was also two Jacuzzi’s. There was also plenty of sun beds at either side. All of which were clean, modern and sturdy. Although we opted for some double style pool four poster beds. 

The hotel also offered complimentary towels. As many of us now only travel with hand luggage this can be a real bonus!




In conclusion, you’ll struggle to find much better value for money. Even writing this article almost six months post our stay and I’m struggling to find a four star hotel for the same price. That said, I wouldn’t want to pay any more than what we did. 

The Anamar Suites, Gran Canaria Review
It’s also worth baring in mind that depending on your personal requirements you can get two and three star apartments in the same area for around £160 – £220 (based on four nights). However the difference in quality between a two, three and four star resort especially in the Spanish resorts can be huge.

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Europe, Travel, Travel

We have recently come back from our first trip to Amsterdam and wow, what a fabulous place. I was quick to see why this continues to be the up and coming European destination. While the main focus of our trip
was to attend the video conference event VidCon we had some time to explore the city. 

It therefore seemed only fitting that we put together our guide of how to visit Amsterdam on a budget;

Travel Insurance – £10

Before you go anywhere you’re going to need travel insurance. Travel insurance covers you for small things such as loss of baggage or larger things such as illness of death abroad.

Whilst it isn’t compulsory I personally wouldn’t go anywhere outside of the UK without it. I have travel insurance as part of a service with my bank. If you don’t have travel insurance already then I recommend using a comparison service such as Go Compare to find the cheapest / most suitable insurance policy for your needs.

For the purposes of this study let’s say that you don’t have travel insurance but you manage to pick up an annual worldwide travel insurance policy for £10.

 

Airport Parking – £7.50

The cost of airport parking, or any parking for that matter usually frustrates me. However, our three nights of parking at Manchester Airport that we booked through APH parking didn’t seem that bad at all. In fact it came in at just £15.00 – which made it £7.50 each for the two of us.

How To Visit Amsterdam on a budget


Flight – £85.48

We was rather specific as to when we wanted to visit Amsterdam, due to the reason in which we was travelling – VidCon. Which meant that despite booking four months in advance, the cost of travel was still rather high at £85.48 return each.

If you’re more flexible as to when you visit then return flights can be purchased for more than half that price.

 

Internal Travel – €26 / £22.04

We purchased this ticket from the rail ticketing desk inside the airport that gave us three days of unlimited travel on all trams, buses, metros and ferries within a vast number of stations within the city. 

This cost €26 euro per person, and we certainly got our money’s worth. The public transport in Amsterdam is second-to-none and by far the easiest, cheapest, and best way to get around the city. 



Hotel – €220.82 / £187.20

We splashed out on accommodation in Amsterdam. Being our first trip and us both doing different things, we wanted to be sure that we both benefited from easy access to the places which we would be visiting.

While the hotel was fantastic, it’s unlikely we’d stay somewhere quite so pricy in the future.


Attractions – €73.15 / £70.90 (Includes Transport!)

Purchasing an I Amsterdam card provides you with all of the following. This also covers your public transport which means you only need one or the other… 


At the time of writing the card currently costs the following;


This in my opinion is an absolute steal, just be sure the free museums that are on offer are the ones you actually want to visit. Otherwise, maybe it’s not so much of a steal…

Food – £50

Despite shopping at the supermarket for the majority of the time Amsterdam certainly wasn’t the cheapest place to eat. I made a video highlight how much some common items cost. 


Souvenirs – £0

As always we opt not to purchase souvenirs. Our trip to Amsterdam on a budget was no different. As with all of our budget trips we instead put the money we would have spent on another trip, and the chance to make even more memories.


An so, there we have it, my complete guide to how to visit Amsterdam on a budget. If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, or have recently come back then be sure to let me know in the comments where you stayed, what you did, and if you feel comfortable enough, how much it cost you.

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