The Black Sea: Nessebar

  The city of Nessebar dates back 3,000 years ago with architecture reflecting the many different masks the city wore over the centuries. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.  Charming, traditional and serene – Nessebar earned a big heart around its dot on my tattered travel map.

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For my journey around Europe I hardly spent anytime shopping besides looking for one, elusive item: an apron. My mom’s birthday was to take place while I was abroad and with her recent gluten-free cooking hobby, she had requested an apron for her birthday. First off, an apron might be one of the most difficult items to explain to shop owners with broken English and I with very limited foreign language skills. Second of all, aprons aren’t the most common item to find in a store. I’m still not sure if my mom knows all the trouble (but fun trouble) that I went through to find her birthday gift, but I found it. And I found it in a shop tucked into a city wall dating back thousands of years on the coast of the Black Sea, of all places.

I spotted a store owner wearing a beautiful apron, and Dilyana inquired for me if the apron was for sale. The owner of the apron laughed and said it was not for sale, but pointed us down a cobblestone road in the direction of the store she purchased it. We took that road, and then turned, and took another road, down another alley, past more cracked walls and creaking doors, stumbling across the true colors of Nessebar along our way.

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We regrouped, got lost, tried again. Finally, we strolled up to a store with a barefoot older woman smiling out the door. Beautiful fabrics lined the store, and we determined that THIS was finally our destination.

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The woman out front flashed us a toothless smile and welcomed us into her shop:

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Inside another elderly woman sat barefoot in the corner sewing while another woman approaches as with a giant rug. I started to touch the fabrics on the table and everything my fingers even grazed drew the attention of the storeowner who would unfold it and show me the full garment. Through Dilyana translating and lots of animated gesturing we finally decided that the woman could turn any of the fabrics into an apron in 15 minutes.

I asked the storeowner to pick out her favorite and then turn it into an apron for my mother:

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She wasn’t shy and proceeded to motion for another photo and, for whatever reason, insisted we hold up another garment. We hugged and I ended up paying more than the asking price for the apron because she was adorable. Somehow, on the coast of the black sea, the perfect gift for my Mom was sewn by a Bulgarian woman with a lovely spirit.

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Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part II, Uncategorized

One Response to The Black Sea: Nessebar

  1. Mom

    Reagan, your efforts do not go unapreciated. I LOVE my new apron and the love and spirit in which it was hunted for, sewn and then lugged around Europe taking up valuable space in your minimal backpack. I wear it with great joy. Love you, sweetheart. Thanks for the special birthday gift. You’re the best gift of all though. Thanks also for sharing your adventures with us through your blog. You have a wonderful way of making us feel like we are traveling right alonside you.

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