Ravda – a town which rebuilds itself for 10 weeks.
Ravda is a town located in the southeastern region of Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast. Its only about 30 minutes from Bulgaria’s second biggest airport – but the town is unusual.
The town literally rebuilds itself for a 10-week window each year before all the additional buildings are destroyed.
I have been lucky enough to spend the last week in Ravda and witness this town being built all ready for the 10 week tourist season. I accidentally booked the wrong flights so we got there a week earlier than planned (I had to take my 4 years out of school for a week – he is going to be behind on his colouring), but it meant we got to witness the town being built.
During the winter months, the town of Ravda serves all the farmers and tiny villages/hamlets on its outskirts so some of the restaurants, bars and shops do remain open for the entire year or a good portion of it.
As you head into the town and reach the main junction with the fountains and bank to your left, if you take a right this street goes from a few closed up shops to the hustle and bustle of the town. Shops are literally being made ready for the 10-week tourist window and then they will be pulled down ready for winter. Some aren’t destroyed they just close but a good portion disappears.
It was weird. As we landed on a Monday morning so did 10 other planes from the UK and the news spread like wildfire. The locals suddenly started opening their stores and restaurants and the workers began working harder to get the new buildings completed on time.
Ravda itself is a wonderful place, we were staying on the outskirts in an apartment we had rented off a family friend, which meant to get into the town we had to walk down this wonderful street which was transforming itself every day before our eyes.
Hidden Away Beach
Our nearest beach was a little-hidden hideaway, we stayed near the Emerald Hotel and to the left or right there is a path which takes you down the beach. The first night we went down we had the entire beach to ourselves and the only bar/restaurant on the beach had a lovely owner who had decided to open early this season.
We got chatting in broken English, but he explained the Emerald is full of middle-class Russians and is all inclusive so he doesn’t earn much from them, but during peak season the beach can get very busy as it has water sports, but out of tourist season it was quiet. We went back several times and he is a lovely bloke, he couldn’t do enough for you, which is like most Bulgarians who are a very friendly bunch of people.
As you walk down the main street to the bank (it’s about a mile walk) this area I would describe as local – if you want to try what the locals eat and drink spend your time around here.
Once you pass the post office, fountains and bank it becomes a lot more English. But I am not a fan of visiting a new place to have English food and drink served to me. I want to experience something new.
The next two towns up from Ravda are Nessebar and Sunny Beach, I will cover these places in more detail in future blog articles, but I would highly recommend adding Ravda onto your destination list.
The currency in Ravda is Lev and when I was over there you got about 2.23 for £1. Quite a bad exchange rate but the pound has taken a bit of a battering recently, but everything out there is so cheap.
For a family of 4 our usual bill, with a few beers and drinks for the family, would be between 60-70 lev or around £35, this was excluding deserts – I will explain why later.
We weren’t choosing the cheapest thing on the menu, in fact, the price of the item was never considered it was just what we fancied. I tried a lot of foods I haven’t eaten before, bluefish and shark to name just two.
Best Icecreams in Town
After eating we would head to Face – which if you visit Ravda is a must. It’s a desert restaurant. It doesn’t really serve food (has a very small menu), but what it does sell is some wonderful deserts. My favourite soon became ‘Face’ which is fresh fruit and ice cream – it was amazing, probably not amazing on the waistline, and I do need to get back running when I get home as I have an ultra marathon in four weeks.
There isn’t a great deal to do in the town especially out of peak season, but the bus is very easy and cheap to get on to visit Nessebar and Sunny Beach.
Unusually the buses are what we would call coaches and you get on and then a conductor comes down once it sets off for you to pay – I got some very funny looks the first time I got on and tried to pay the driver.
The official policy is ALL foreigners have to pay, so I had to pay for my 22-month-old. Some conductors didn’t charge me, but I never minded as the price is fixed: 1.80 lev about 85p to get to either place and they are about 10 – 20 minutes away depending which town your visiting. You wouldn’t get it that cheap in England, I can’t get out of my small village for that price in the UK let alone to another town.
The guy who owns the apartment block did advise me against using taxies. In the capital Sofia they are very cheap, but around here they are very expensive. Instead, he gave me his number and a friend and for a very reasonable price would pick us up and drop us off if needed.
Apart from the beach including water sports and visiting the local towns – there isn’t much more to see and do.
The main supermarket is on the outskirts and is a Lidl. Yeah it’s the same stuff roughly as back home – you just won’t understand the labels etc as their language is very unusual (in fact while we were here they have a national bank holiday to celebrate the date the alphabet was created and it’s a big deal, with everyone getting dressed up and going out for nice meals), but the shop itself is ideal. I only really bought stuff for breakfast as we were planning on eating all the other meals out.
Something else I learnt about Ravda, is the temperate swing, so in Britain, ours is about 20 degrees across the year. It falls to about zero over winter and gets to around mid 20’s on average in the summer – but here in Ravda, there is over 60-degree swing. During the winter the temperatures drop as low as minus 20 and in the summer reach over 40 degrees. The owner of the apartment was saying that the pool freezes over so you can walk across it in winter and the snow can go as high as the bridge across the pool.
Then in the summer, the temperatures soar to well over 40 for the 10 week tourist season. As we have two very young children we came out of this window and got mid 20’s but that was hot enough for us.
If you are unsure of where to visit in 2017 or even 2018 I would definitely recommend a week’s stay in Ravda – it won’t cost you a lot and you can try something new. Actually in fact for a family of four, we spent about £600 for the week. £50 on that was in the taxi to and from the airport and another £50 was spent me doing Jet Skiing. The rest was either spent on food, usually holiday stuff you buy or on buying some new clothing in Sunny Beach.