My friends arrange for me to stay at the Morska Perla hotel in Nesebar old town. Only the bus from Sofia drops me in the new town and no-one I ask has heard of this hotel. It's behind the post office I'm told but there's no hotels there, just rather ugly modern buildings. The tourist office helps. It's in the old town he says, gives me the address, points it out on the map. I walk along the narrow strip of land separating new town from old, and find the hotel. The woman is all smiles and laughter and the room is palatial – and with a balcony!
Next morning I wake up in heaven, very early. The sun comes through the windows and blinds of Morska Perla's spacious suite. Yesterday I walked right round the promontory and found that the small beach is actually very close to my smart residence. An old ruined church overlooks this beach of small stones. I wade into the water. On my way back to the hotel I walk past the marina. After morning coffee, I pick up my swimwear and towel, and head back along the narrow strip of land between old and new town, and then further along the new town coast, to the small beach, sandy, and packed with people. The waves rise up and lift you up, reminding me of the beach at North Carolina, long ago. I send off postcards – if not to the past, then – to the memories of past.
Just behind the beach, hotel complexes cram the little bay, jammed together – nothing sticks so hard it seems, as commerce, gain, a tough adhesive. But I am the luckiest in the world, for I wake in the shadow of ancient buildings, history lays its finger on the narrow streets where seagulls call, and a thin white cat stalks its morning territory. Even before the souvenir shops are open, before the cafés and the post office is open, the Byzantine churches have been blessed by the sun coming up over the sea. And the beach of small stones to myself. And the morning marina, of empty boats. My patronne greets me with a smile and coffee. Dobre? She asks. Dobre, I say.