28/4/17 – All the Canadians

For some reason, the oldies decided not to knock on for us for breakfast, so we ended up going down by ourselves and catching them just as they were leaving. Had the usual quesadilla, bacon, sausage, sauteed potatoes and nachos. I do love their nachos. We took up some prime positions by the pool – still in the shade, because it really is blistering hot here; I know, I’m ashamed of myself too – and I got my writing game on. Bust out three pages before getting highly distracted watching three girls playing Marco Polo in the pool with some little kids. We’ve only ever seen this game played in American movies, so it was highly entertaining to us.

One of the girls then expertly saved her drink whilst rolling out of the pool, so I told her it’s always a success as long as you haven’t spilt the drink. We then got talking to them, which lasted all afternoon. They were friends from Canada called Danielle, Daria and Gelisa. They were very funny and apparently very happy to have made new friends, as they posted on Snapchat. We got so carried away chatting that we missed the lunch slot entirely. Inconceivable! We hit the snack bar instead and I had some pulled chicken, chicken nuggets and chips. Very sophisticated, of course.

We opted out of more drinks for the afternoon, because we knew we had a heavy night ahead of us. The girls all sat in the pool for a while, so I sat on the edge with them with my notebook so that I could half write and half chat, which ended up being mostly chatting. Managed to get a little more done on the sunbeds before me and Kel conceded we should go back to the room to start showering, as we had to have an early tea before Coco Bongos. Said goodbye to the girls and went back to the room. Did the usual of squeezing in some writing between getting ready, so that I was only a page behind where I wanted to be.

We went back to the Mexican restaurant this time, since it only had scheduled sittings and going down earlier meant we were right on time for the first one. I had some oddly multi coloured nachos with their hot sauce, taco rolls, refried beans and beef tostadas. Still need to try their tortilla soul at some point, but I kept filling up on everything else. I had chicken fajitas for my main. Super yummy! We had a look at the pudding buffet, but weren’t too enamoured by it, so we decided to go over to the other restaurant and look at theirs. We spotted the oldies in there, so we sat with them whilst we had ice cream with strawberry sauce. Much better.

Kel had left her phone on charge and I didn’t want to take my phone out with my, so we went back to the room for a little bit before our bus was due so that we could switch. I also squeezed in that last page I wanted before we had to go down. I am never going on holiday during a NaNoWriMo event again. It makes it feel so much more like a chore to get the pages done, when sometimes I just want to read or sunbathe or watch Clannad instead. We got on the most air conditioned bus ever. In my tiny, pineapple playsuit, it was bloody freezing. We also had to sit on there for ages in the hotel drive, because there was a faff with a mother and daughter pair who had bought their tickets, but the daughter wasn’t old enough. Expensive tickets to not get refunded, but what did they really expect from a club? You need ID. That’s just how it works.

The first stop on our special little bar crawl was Senor Frog’s – one that amused me, as it had been on Impractical Jokers. Really nice, fun little bar with a live band playing and everything froggy themed. It was beach side too. Just a shame it was so damn windy – I spent the entire time having to push my hair out of my face. We got free cocktails and free shots there, as it was all-inclusive with our tickets. No idea what either of them were, but they were both drinkable. We then had some odd margarita/mojito mash-ups and made friends with a Canadian couple called Andrew and Alisha. Seriously, there are so many Canadians here. They tried out the oxygen bar where they plug tubes up your nose, so the oxygen helps the alcohol into your blood stream faster and gives you a natural high; plus it’s meant to make your hangover a lot better the next day. Safe to say, me and Kel were happy to just tackle all that the old fashioned way. Shoving anything up my nose didn’t sound like much fun. One of our rep people then had us standing up on our chairs to a very fast forwarded version of Macarena and then some House of Pain (what a tune). I’m all for dancing on chairs and tables, but it’s a little more terrifying in heels.

We then walked round to our next coach stop, chatting to Andrew and Alisha on the way. They rent a property with forty-one acres of land and apparently get deer and porcupines in their back yard, wow! Though apparently not so wow for their pitbull that just wants to eat everything. The coach took us to the next place, Salsanero. I was given a vile cocktail upon going in – tasted like soda water and a lot of alcohol. I quickly ditched that and got us some better margaritas instead. The music in here was a lot more Spanish. As the name suggests, clearly somewhere where you learn the proper dances, rather than just going to a club. We took our own entertainment in watching a guy in pink shorts, who was dancing around all goofily and totally looked like Murr from the back.

We didn’t seem to be in there long before being moved onto Coco Bongos, which was just across the road. We were given more cocktails as we went in. These ones tasted quite medicine-y, but were at least better than the weird soda water one. They suddenly became a lot more drinkable when we were given shots to down on the go as we were directed through, which turned out to be pure tequila. My gag reflex was certainly strong with that one and I had to glug a fair bit of my weird cocktail to recover. Those of us on the specific Coco Bongo tour had our own level, which the reps were trying very hard to lead us all too. Difficult when there’s so many of you in the group and the club is completely rammed, especially when I managed to lose sight of the guy in front. Thankfully, whilst I was looking all lost, one guy turned round and asked if I was on the tour too. When I said yes, he just grabbed my hand and dragged us both through all the people, right up until we got to our designated level. Bless. It was more hilarious when I spotted the pink shorts and realised it was non-Murr.

All of the little balconies overlooked the main stage and dance floor, with step-like levels so that more people could fit and still be able to see over everyone else. We couldn’t get onto one of the steps straight away, so we couldn’t really see anything, but then they suddenly released lots of sausage balloons and me and Kel entertained ourselves with those for a while, like the children that we are. Whilst Kel was then getting up on one of the steps that had become free, I was watching her and didn’t realise I was hitting non-Murr on the head with the end of my balloon. Thankfully, he found it funny and just gave it a shake.

Once we were on the steps, we decided to launch our balloons off the balcony like javelins. Well, Kel did. I tried to do the same and managed to hit one of the overhead speakers, so that it bounced back and landed in some guy’s face, who was clearly like ‘where the fuck did this just come from?’ He tried to javelin it too and hilariously, also bounced it off the speaker and it came right back to me, so I got another shot at it. On my second try, I finally managed to launch it off the balcony and into the crowd. The whole time, we had reps going round asking for our drink orders and delivering them right to us. We chose to stick to the margaritas all night.

Our visibility of the stage had been pretty limited until that point, but as the crowd started to thin out, we finally got to see what was going on. The crowd was huge – looked like what I imagine New Year’s Eve to be at a hugely televised American event. It was basically like being in a night club that stages a pop culture themed Cirque du Soleil. They had full dance performances of medleys from artists like Bruno Mars, LMFAO and Pitbull. Real choreographed dances too. Then they had staged fights and aerial acts between Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, Spiderman and Green Goblin, The Mask, and the guys from Tron. Tron acts always look so good because of the light-up suits, but their aerial work was something else. Serious highlight for us was when Satine came out n her trapeze to Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, going into a whole little Moulin Rouge segment. Far too much love for that movie.

Our reps started directing us back outside before the club closed at three, so we headed back to a congregation point where we were all directed towards the right coaches. We got stuck with an insanely noisy group of Colombian girls. Now I’m all for appreciating Colombians, because they hella pretty, but these were just damn annoying. Two of them were from our hotel and trying to ask us what our room number was. Dodgy or what? Safe to say, we didn’t tell them anything. I was prepared to make up a fake number if we had to.

There was no question that we weren’t doing anything when we got back, other than going to bed. Personally, I was just glad to get rid of the heels, because it had been a very standing-only kind of night. Maybe next time, I’ll just stick to flats.

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This is not your average night club.

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26/4/17 – Living in the shadows

Woke up at a much more acceptable eight o”clock today. Got ready to go down to breakfast. Sausage, bacon, cheese quesadilla, nachos with habanero sauce and a ham and cheese mini burrito. Followed it up with a pancake and waffle quarter, both covered in Nutella, mmm. And a glass of pineapple juice, of course. We popped back up to the room to get sun creamed up and I discovered just how badly I’d sunburnt yesterday. Shoulders, chest, legs, belly and feet. Ow. That was on double the factor I’d usually use too. There’s clearly something deadly about Mexican sun.

So deadly, in fact, that when we got down to the pool, we immediately picked out sunbeds in the shade. Never have I ever taken to the shade on just the second day of a holiday before. But even in the shade, it was just so hot. Kel had burnt even worse than me, so she stayed with me in the shade and we stayed there all day, bar moving to other sunbeds that were even more in the shade. It really was one of those days.

Started the day off with margaritas once the bar opened at ten. A tour guide called Enzo was chatting and joking with us for a while. Some of his trips sounded really interesting – like swimming with manatees and whale sharks! – but his leaflets were very heavy with photos and sparse with any information, so that wasn’t too handy. Not to mention we hadn’t actually brought many pesos with us, what with the whole all-inclusive thing, so we had to be a bit sparing with them. Did some writing and reading, then the next rep person to come round was called Joshua and was taking reservations for Coco Bongos. As this was something we’d already wanted to do, we happily signed up for the higher tier package, which is basically an all-inclusive, glorified bar crawl. Score.

After more writing, as well as a Mai Tai and a strawberry daiquiri, we had a little dip in the pool to cool off. It was only somewhat refreshing, as absolutely no part of the pool was in the shade, so it wasn’t as cool as we would have liked. The oldies came back from their shopping, so we went for lunch in the main buffet restaurant. Mash, spicy potato wedges, more nachos with some cheese sauce, cheese and onion pizza and of course, rice. The rice I’d picked turned out to not be the spesh rice that I like, so I went back up to get the proper rice and had more mash and potato wedges whilst I was at it, mmm.

After lunch, it was back to holing up in the shade, but not before grabbing another margarita. Cue the usual more writing and more reading. One of the guys who was collecting empty glasses came round and I told him he couldn’t have my full one, so later on when my half full glass was the only one on the table, he purposely came and asked if he could take it. Not happening; take anything but my drink! We also had one of the rep girls come round and tell us to catch the show on the entertainment stage tonight, which she would only describe as ‘crazy’. Sounds intriguing.

We went back up to the apartment around five to shower. Thanks to my stupid lack of straighteners, I had to attempt to dry my hair as straight as possible. It didn’t work too great, mostly due to the fact of my fringe drying so that it looked like a helmet. Since my straighteners had been working for a few minutes before cutting out yesterday, I decided to try using them to at least do my fringe before they started beeping at me. Semi happy. Did a little more writing in the room before going for food. Usual kind of rice, mash and potato mixes, as well as stewed chickpeas and a very rich pulled lamb stew.

We moved to the bar afterwards, where I had a tequila sunrise. We were then treated to the ‘crazy’ show that we’d been told about. Oh my god, they weren’t kidding. It started off just playing Nature Boy from Moulin Rouge, which had me and Kel all giddy. It then went into Lady Marmalade and four men came out dressed to the nines as Pink, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliot and Lil Kim, lip syncing and getting very into their dancing to it. Freaking hilarious! It then basically turned into lip sync extreme. Dozens of short ‘sketches’ of the different entertainment guys lip syncing and dancing to different songs whilst dressed as the relevant performer. Some were hilarious and some actually had seriously good choreography; not to mention all the crazy fast costume changes it entailed between songs. Clearly so much time and effort went into it and it was so worth it. Brilliant show. Highlights included four different looks of Bruno Mars doing Uptown Funk together, the Blues Brothers and one of the guys wearing tights on his head to look like Pitbull. The star performer was easily ┬áchunky guy who dressed as all the women, like Cher, Nicole Kidman and Gloria Gaynor.

We had another drink afterwards – I had a mango daiquiri, mmm – and hen we came back to the rooms. We put some music on and I did more writing before bed. Gotta be a good little writer if I’m so determined to get my word counts done before the end of the month!

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Diamonds are a man’s best friend, apparently!

9/5/15 – Exploring Sofia

Woke up at about four o’clock with a migraine, urgh. Why do my holidays abroad always seem to start out this way? You suck sometimes, head. Thankfully the meds cleared it up and I managed to sleep off most of their usual side effects. Tone: 1, Migraine: 0. We got up and dressed lazily to go down and check out breakfast. I do love the whole complimentary thing – I felt like I was back in America! Sadly no waffle iron though. Instead I had toast, scrambled eggs, cold cuts and cheese and some delicious pieces of frankfurta. They even supplied us with pudding type options – the best thing being that they had tinned strawberries in syrup. I used to have that at my Nan and Grandad’s all the time as a kid. Nan used to give me the whole tin in a giant fruit bowl and I’d eat the entire thing myself. Didn’t think I could have got away with just picking up the whole bowl here though, so I had to make do with a small portion. Sad times.

Slowly showered and got ready after that. The shower’s nice and powerful, but it tends to spray around the whole room as the flimsy shower curtain doesn’t reach all the way to the floor. I hate shower curtains anyway. They always stick to you and feel really gross. But then maybe my ass is just too big for the dimensions of the shower… Decided to suncream my arms up a little for the possibility of good weather – here’s hoping – and just take the bottle with me. Emi messaged Kel bang on eleven and told us to meet her just a bit down the road. It was lovely and sunny, so I was happy to be in shorts and a flimsy pineapple top.

Emi took us on the subway into Sofia city centre – only one lev per ticket (that equates to about 50p; take note, Travel West Midlands!) She took us through the main town and pointed out her apartment block, where she went to school and where her sister used to work, as well as some typical Bulgarian statues and architectures – all of which she reckoned were fugly anyway. Whilst we were walking I thought some Bulgarian man had tried to go for my bag. He hadn’t; instead he’d had the cheek to grab my ass. I couldn’t exactly rave at him because he wouldn’t have understood and I wasn’t sure if slapping a very tall Bulgarian man would be a good idea or not, so I had to settle for just giving him a dirty look. As you do. Sadly I don’t think it had the same effect when I was wearing giant sunglasses. Not only was he a chauvinistic, presumptuous dick, he also interrupted me mid happy Impractical Jokers rant. Screw you, tall guy.

We stopped to sit down a little further up and had a good natter. Nearly two years is a long time to build the need for a serious catch-up. We talked about work and stupid dramas and various silly things before heading back out for food. I have no idea what any of these places are called because even Bulgarian letters make no sense to me. Thankfully the menu had English translations so I ordered a cloudy lemonade and what was described as a baked potato with cheese, bacon, onion and parsley. What I actually got was what looked more like a lasagne. It was a tray of mushed up potato with all the described ingredients and a thick layer of melted cheese covering the whole thing. Not that I was disappointed though – it was lovely; albeit the oddest baked potato I’ve ever had!

We walked back through town afterwards and stopped again, this time for ice cream at a place Emi described only as the best. She wasn’t lying. Genuinely the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They had a very unique variety of flavours too – I had a forest fruits type of frozen yoghurt, blueberry ice cream with jam and mango ice cream. They were all delicious, but the mango especially was to die for. I will happily trust Emi’s judgement for the rest of my life.

We had another sit down in a little mini park type area whilst we – and by we, I mean Emi – finished eating. Bulgaria really is a strange but pretty place. It reminds me of Greece only with much bigger buildings and big, very American-like roads. What’s even stranger is if you look one way you can see the snow on top of the mountains. It just doesn’t feel right when it’s as warm as it is where we are! We got the subway back to by Emi’s place and checked into the supermarket opposite to invest in drinks and things for our room. Apparently if you spend fifteen lev you get a free Frozen glass, so of course we made sure we spent at least fifteen lev by getting a variety of Red Bull, alcohol, pop, crisps and popcorn. It’s surprisingly hard to spend fifteen lev here.

Emi walked us back to our hotel so that she could pick up the makeup that Kel had technically personally imported for her so she wouldn’t have to pay the outrageous shipping prices. On the way she pointed out several cars that had lots of big dents in the bonnets, apparently caused by a crazy hailstorm with golf ball sized chunks of hail! Maybe I won’t be complaining about the British rain so much anymore. We showed her the dresses we were planning to wear later so she could pre-plan what makeup to do on us. It’s an unwritten law that when we’re with Emi she has to do both our nails and also our makeup if we go clubbing. We have no choice. Not that we’re complaining of course.

She went back to her place so we could meet up again later. Had a bit of downtime – I did some writing and started reading my next Cassie Palmer book whilst Kel had a little snooze, then we went down to the restaurant to get some grub. The English in the menu wasn’t laid out particularly well so I played it safe and just ordered a margarita pizza. It was alright, I guess. Just a bit samey. Like any plain pizza would be. Came back up to the room after to finish getting ready – bar the eye makeup of course – then headed over to Emi’s again.

She met us halfway, this time with her friend Daisy who’d come to visit. We all hung out in her room for a few hours whilst she did each of our eye makeup in turn. As always, she did it flawlessly! We got carried away having a natter – at one point I went off on a happy little Ralph Macchio tangent, which amazingly was instigated by Emi, not me – so we didn’t get out till coming up to midnight. We’d originally been meaning to go to a cocktail bar first, but since it was later than we’d intended we decided to get a cab straight to the club. One of the things I’ve learnt about Bulgaria is that their drivers are absolutely batshit crazy. Another is that all Bulgarian doors open outwards (I never even realised most British doors open inwards until now).

We got to Morgan’s Bar, which was kitted out with a full awesome pirate theme. The cocktails were an absolute bargain, working out at about two quid a pop with the exchange. That’s like student night at Nightingales! I had an apple Cosmo and a couple of Lime Daiquiris, which were nice but very sour. Another of Emi’s friends, Galia, met us there for the remainder of the night. Both her and Daisy were nice, but of course it was tough to actually make conversation with the language barrier. We couldn’t really make Emi play translator all night when we were technically out as a belated birthday thing for her. I’d passed on her half of the Harley Quinn friendship necklaces I’d got for her (I haven’t given anything like that since I was a kid and didn’t know if you were supposed to initially give both halves or keep one and give the other, so I just had to wing it), which she loved!

They played some general club music and also a lot of songs in all kings of various languages, not just Bulgarian. We got some of the good stuff in there too though. Got to have a boogie to some of our favourites like Bruno Mars, Macklemore, Robin Thicke, T. Swizzle, Eminem and even the Bloodhound Gang! It then felt like we may as well have been in Popworld when they started plaing Right Said Fred and Mambo No. 5. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. Another odd thing was that every so many songs in they’d suddenly blare a proper big ship style foghorn. It’s very offputting to be really in the groove to your favourite song and then you’re suddenly being warned of oncoming sea traffic. Kel then ruined pretty much every song ever for me by pointing out how often you could relatively get away with doing a Joe Gatto style ‘display your crotch in a grand fashion’ move. Thanks Kel – I’ll never be able to listen to LMFAO the same again.

There weren’t any food places open when we left, so Galia hit a little 24-hour off license type place and very nicely bought us each a little chocolate cake bar thing that tasted very much like jaffa cakes. Yummy! We got a taxi back and Emi gave us the lowdown of the plan for tomorrow when she dropped us off at the hotel. I somehow managed to let the taxi door shut on my knee as I was about to get out, right on the funny bone. Ah well, I guess it’s not a holiday without me doing myself a stupid injury.

Ready to get out on the Bulgarian town in my favourite little red dress!

Ready to get out on the Bulgarian town in my favourite little red dress!