My View - Wednesday August 23 2017
I'm just back from a week in Bulgaria with the family, where I felt on the cusp of death, twice. After a turbulent flight to Bourgas, our taxi man greeted us in arrivals with the predictable "Ah, Mr Bond, I've been expecting you".
Unfortunately, he hadn't been expecting four of us as the cab only seated three. So the job was passed to Aleksandar, a shaven-headed 25-year-old man of few words but ample fury. Every fibre in his body radiated derision for both the job in hand and the family who had interrupted his Saturday night out.
It was dark, there didn't appear to be much street lighting and none of the seatbelts worked. Just to ramp up my blood pressure, the speed limit was 80kph but Aleksandar kept up a steady 132kph all the way to Sozopol. Our only contact was when he raised an eyebrow at me in the rear-view mirror. I thought he was checking we were okay, so slapped on a smile and nodded vigorously. It turns out nodding means 'no' in Bulgaria, which served to make Aleksandar's foot even heavier. I felt it was a minor miracle when we arrived alive.
Equally as frightening was the gurgling in my gut which began in the early hours of our second night and ended with me in the recovery position, staring at an imaginary reaper. Basically, I'd overdone it in the 33 degree heat. Or it could have been the tepid shrimp risotto I'd wolfed down earlier. I wouldn't have minded so much if alcohol had played a part in the scenario, but I'd been off the booze having had vague notions of coming home re-energised.
So the first 48 hours were far from ideal, but once I'd properly come round I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel and resort. Our room was a mixture of eighties bling and nineties caravan, perfectly complimented by Phil Collins on loop in the lobby. It was unfortunate that the sumptuous four-poster bed was separated only by a flimsy curtain adjacent to our daughters' pull-out sofa, meaning we had to think twice before embarking on another day in paradise.
The bathroom hosted a freestanding plastic shower cubicle, with a remote control for some nozzles which didn't work. Every time you ventured into the makeshift Tardis, it rocked. Luckily, the Black Sea was right on the hotel doorstep, which meant a good view for all when, after a cleansing swim, I waded back to shore feeling like Ursula Andress in Dr. No, but looking more like a spoof advert for hair removal cream with my bikini bottoms full of seaweed.
But all in all, a solid eight out of ten for a family fly and flop from Leeds Bradford Airport. In the words of Mr Collins, we could have happily stayed 'one more night'.