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  • Sofia, Bulgaria
Kavala, Greece – a Bulgarian’s Perspective

Kavala, Greece – a Bulgarian’s Perspective

All the way back in May, I went to Kavala for 3 nights. As a person who hadn’t travelled outside Bulgaria in more than 4 years, my opinions may be a bit over exaggerated, so please have this in mind. Thank you. 

Once we got to the border control, my phone started glitching out with mobile service, as there was cross-border interference with my operator and Vodafone, as well as Cosmote (one of the largest Greek mobile operators). If my phone had feelings, it’d have a heart attack in that case. Another weird thing I saw was the amount of consumer shops and centres near the Border Control. There were a lot of casinos, malls and restaurants which all accepted Euros and Leva. Making payments with Apple Pay was almost impossible on the way to Kavala, which was not an issue for my family, as we had plastic cards available to pay for tolls. They were €2 for the E49, but €1.50 for the highway towards Thessaloniki. 

We didn’t have to get on that highway though. We went through an alternative way aside the highways and beside Serres and Drama (Σέρρες and Δράμα) and eventually arrived in the surprisingly hilly city of Kavala.

This is the first picture I took of Kavala from our car’s window:

iPhone 13, 2x Zoom, HEIC (converted and compressed)

I finally had the first interaction with a Greek person at the reception desk in our hotel. I, in a heavy Australian accent did not get understood, so I switched to what I call “Core English”. The name is very explanatory. After checking in our hotel, we went out for food at a street food restaurant. Unfortunately, my hunger did not allow me to take a photo of the wonderfully made souvlaki that me and my family ate. 

If you don’t know what a souvlaki is – in short, it is a wide-spread dish of a selected meat type, preferably chicken breasts or lamb meats, put onto a small wooden or metal stick, mixed with French fries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and white onion. By standard, portions are around 400g, but really get your hunger quenched. Me, writing this at 1:35 in the morning is craving a souvlaki in a pita (a roasted glutinous circular bread). 

After that, we took a short break and then went to the beach. In the middle of that break, I took the time to see the prices at a supermarket nearby and I am so ready to document them. I even took a couple of pictures. Here they are:

iPhone 13, 1x Zoom, HEIC (Converted, original resolution)

Those electric toothbrushes cost 45 leva or €28 here, without discounts. With a discount, they go for €17. Their price is similar in both the countries.

Here is what I can summarise:

500ml CocaCola – €1 (>= €0.85 in Bulgaria)

Lenor 1L softener – €7 (> €4.15 in Bulgaria)

Cheddar – €2.50 (> €2 in Bulgaria)

Sunflower oil – €3.20 (>= €3 in Bulgaria)

iPhone 13 (128GB) – €699 (< €729 in Bulgaria)

As of petroleum, the price difference was huge:

A95 (Shell FuelSave) – €2.91/L (>€1.87/L in Sofia)

This summarises our arrival.

After we ate, we went on the beach. It was hot that day, up to 30ºC, which was way hotter than Sofia’s weather. The sand was very nice on the beach we were on, as well as the Aegean waters were decently hot. Would that be because of its distance with the Thassos island, I’m not sure. But I can definitely say, it was worth it to buy a suncream as you could get your skin burned with ease.

We didn’t go anywhere special for the remainder of the day, as we were tired from the trip and the beach.

However, the next day, we woke up, went to the beach for a shorter amount of time, ate at the same food place, as it was so good. Talking about it, I just need to mention that almost all restaurants have a type of chair which different people will hate or like. They had this type of kneaded thick wooden or bamboo sheets as seats, which I didn’t hate if I was sitting with shorts that were longer than the chair’s seat. If not, I didn’t enjoy sitting on them much.

Continuing with the story, I ate and then we stayed a bit longer on the beach and then me and my mother had to go to the nearest ATM, which was on a 14 minute walk. I thought we could take a taxi, because they were cheaper than the over exaggerated price we had expected them to be, but in the end, we just walked, as we wanted to breathe the sea air mixed with motorbike exhausts. I lead to the conclusion that since there weren’t a lot of spacious roads in Kavala, people barely could fit cars in them, so they chose the cheaper and smaller option to ride motorcycles or scooters. Makes a lot of sense.

The width of those roads would become ominous to me the next day, when we go to the fortress. We arrived at the ATM, had to question our existence when we saw the ATM’s conversion rate and went back to our hotel through the same route. On the way back, we were looking at the various restaurants that came on our way and even asked to sit down in one, but were kindly kicked out, for a reason, that I – a B2+ English Certified Student could not understand. Maybe it was because of the person’s rough accent, compared to my soft sounding one.

That day, I ran into a lot of errors with communication with the locals, due to me having the expectation that they have PhDs in English Grammar and Speaking. Here is a very funny example, at least for me:

I go to a bakery nearby to get something for breakfast. I greet the cashier and proceed to look at all of the yummy things they had. My eyes stumbled across a Potato Pie, which I translated with Google Translate to escape any additional hassle, but I wanted to ask what type of potatoes there were. So I did and here is how our conversation with the fellow Greek went:
– Good morning!
– Hello, my friend! – the cashier replies.
– I was looking at your potato pie and was wondering what type of potatoes there were in it. Could you tell me? – I generically ask.
– There is potato in this pie. – the cashier answers.
– Yes, I know, but are they fried, mashed or baked? – I ask with a hinting example.
– I don’t know. – he responds.
My father steps in with his big understanding of how some people talk English and apologised to the person and immediately led me out of the store, as he saw that the cashier was politely mad at this 13 year old Bulgarian. My father then bought me the pie, while I was waiting out of the shop. He asked me to tell him what I said to get him so mad. The thing above this text is what I told him. He then said: “Use simpler words.”. I tried and failed to follow his advice afterwards.

Continuing through the day, we decided to head to the centre of Kavala where we could have some nice dinner with an astounding landscape of the sea. Out first encountered issue was transportation. I proposed using a Taxi, and we all agreed. We were getting ready to absolutely demolish our brains while talking in English to a Greek through a non-VoLTE connection, but my mother had already ordered one! Yes, apparently – a A2 English Learner speaks English better than a B2 kid. Wonderful. We got into the taxi and arrived at the Kavala port, 2 minutes away from the centre, filled with people.

We went on a walk through the shore and it was amazing. Seeing another nation and its beauty in four years is just amazing to me. The sun was setting, music was playing lightly along the booths and bars, the waters were sounding, everything was fine. It was a normal but very exciting moment for me, and I’d die to live through it again.

After that amazing walk, we decided to go to the nearby restaurants, only to realise that almost all of them were full! Luckily, we got to a very expensive but nice restaurant and ate dinner there. I had ordered a pasta Carbonara, but it tasted a bit blandly, but I compensated with a nice dessert.

After we left the restaurant, my father gave me a chance to talk to the nearby taxi driver. Once we arrived to him, I ran over to his car and asked him:
– Can you take me and family to **** Hotel?
– Eh! **** Hotel?
– Yes, thank you.
– Welcome.

We got into the Taxi and got to our hotel. That was the end of one of the best days that I’d had in 2022. It really was a special one for me.

On the second day, it was a bit more calm. We moved to another hotel on the same road, and it was better. I had a whole bed to myself and was not sleeping on a couch! I’d safely say that is a dream-come-true for any person below the age of 15. After we moved in, we did the same thing, but with something else in mind.

We went to the beach and made use of the fantastic weather. We were supposed to get rained on heavily, but none of that was true. It was all nice. We then went to a nearby gyros place, where we ate lunch. Greek people like doing crazy stuff for their customers was one thing I saw during my stay in the wonderful so far Greek city. After that, we went back and had a rest. One of my friends has a villa in Greece, specifically in the Macedonian area, which meant that he was our virtual tour guide. He advised us to go in the Kaval Fortress and to look around the old town of Kavala, so that is what we ended up doing in the end.

In the evening, when the weather was moderately good, we ordered a taxi to the fortress. Here is where the fun part was. I was carefully watching all of the different roads we went through and checked them with my Maps application on my phone, as I was trying to get a general sense of where I was going. Eventually, we realised that the fortress didn’t have a fancy opening, like many Bulgarian historical & ethnical locations do. It was a small road. In fact, it was so small, that a car barely fit in it. We were told to go up that road and we’d be at the fortress in no time. Here’s an example. You can continue to explore more.

I’m using Google Maps to let my readers see how tiny the roads really are, as it is just fabulous to look at them, at least for me.

After walking, we got to the fortress but realised that we didn’t have any more cash than 5 Euros. That’d be plenty for tickets in Bulgaria, but not enough in Greece! Luckily, there was a POS terminal at the ticket stand. Crisis averted.

(insert Picture Gallery of Fortress here)

After looking at the fortress’ secrets, we went down the most famous street and chose a tavern where there was spectacular food, for a reasonable price. Expect to feed a three-membered family for less than 50 euros at some places. We went down to the main road and called a taxi back to our hotel. Taxis became our main way of transportation. We had a wonderful time on our spacious balcony that night.

The next day, we didn’t do a lot. We just chilled with the locals and stayed on the beach. One thing I did was improve my Greek/Bulgarian communication skills. They finally understood me well. And this day was also one of my favourites.

Me and my mother went to the center for souvenirs and found a very lovely Bulgarian-owned souvenir shop while wondering around the small streets. The owners were a lovely couple, which claimed to have moved from Bulgaria to Greece. They were so nice that they provided us with baskets to put our souvenirs in, as well as, you won’t believe it – olive jam! Yes, that’s a thing. I was amazed by that. After we bought our souvenirs, the owners of the lovely shop showed us a very authentic souvenir that they claimed dated a mechanism back to when Pythagor was alive.

He had invented a cup, which was used for his students to drink from before going to bed. They were only given a certain amount to drink from what was then – wine. If they had poured more than they could, the liquid came out of the bottom of the cup. It was a very nice shop, just spectacular.

After that, we went to a café nearby and sat down in it. We checked out the menu, which was in a totally digital form and could be accessed from a QR code. I wanted a lemonade and when the waiter came to our table, I prepared myself to get recked, but – the waiter knew English to my level! I asked him:
– Can I order a raspberry lemonade, small one, please?
– Yes, of course. Would you like the lemonade with carbonated water? – the waiter asked
I just was shocked that I talked to one person that knew the language fully. There was a slight suspense in my head before my answer.
– No thanks. What about you ma’am? (referring to my mother)
And we ordered everything we needed.

We had a grand time in that cafe, as that was our last day in Greece. We were talking about what we thought of this hilly town. My mother told me she actually had a break in this city and “breathed neighbouring air”. We just summarised all of the good things about the town and what it had done to our well-being (in a good way).

After that, we called a taxi and went to the nearest supermarket to save some money and have dinner at home. We got ingredients for a Greek salad and toasted sandwiches and went back to our hotel. Shortly after, we started cooking dinner and laid the table on the balcony with loads of dishes. My father was enjoying a beer, and I was enjoying a Mountain Dew and carbonated water. We all sat down and ate on the balcony with astounding views of the sea and the sunset to the west. We had some laughs and had a good time. We didn’t go to bed until around 1:00 in the morning.

And our last day came. We woke up and packed our belongings. I went to the bakery and ordered a big boughatsa for breakfast. Soon enough, we handed the keys to the front desk and said our goodbyes with the property owner and manager and took on our merry way. We had no problems going through the border control, and my phone didn’t have a heart attack on the way back!

In summary, Greek Thrace cities are very entertaining and lively. We had a lot of fun and pleasure to be there, as it was new for us. We got used to the environment very quickly, due to the welcoming and polite people we met that helped us navigate the city. Eurotaxis were affordable and saved us a lot of fuss and money. The beaches are amazing, I’d recommend them as soon as the end of May hits.

The food was spectacular and pretty exotic at certain places. The roads were adorable and are easy to walk on. There were a lot of motorbikes. The city beautifully lights up in the nights. There are fantastic apartments and hotels on the beachfront and elsewhere within the city! Vodafone Greece do a bad job of providing mobile data, but at a fair and reasonable price. Cosmote is better in every situation. Greece is worth visiting for the summer holidays, even if it isn’t for a long amount of time.

Thanks for reading this blog, I put a lot of effort into it and love that you read it in its entirety. It’s been an honour making blogs for my 50,000 yearly visitors. <3

Featured Image by Wikipedia article, Kavala Old Town shown. All rights reserved for photographer.

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