Departure airport: London Stansted
Destination airport: Burgas, Bulgaria for Sunny Beach
Stansted is, as always, a complete nightmare. To be fair, car park buses and security were actually relatively efficient for once which made a pleasant change. Once through security however, it becomes clear that the airport is in a mess.
There are queues for everything and nowhere near enough seats for the number of people waiting for their flights to be called. In reality, the chaos is caused by panicking travellers turning up three or more hours early for their flights. If everyone arrived two hours early as instructed, the queues and overcrowding simply wouldn’t happen.
Top tip: Use Jet2’s twilight luggage drop-off service – it’s one less headache when you turn up at stupid o’clock the next day
Bonus tip: You can park in Stansted’s Mid Stay car park for one hour, free. The round trip should take well under an hour because the airport is much less busy in the evenings.
The flight itself was relatively pleasant. Jet2 is firmly no-frills territory, but the crew make a good effort so the journey feels less like a crowded coach trip. Arriving at Burgas Airport, we were greeted by uniformed staff who swiftly directed us towards our taxi driver who would be taking us on to our hotel.
With no Bulgarian at our disposal, the drive was quite quiet – and illegally fast. We arrived long before the other holidaymakers who had opted for the included coach transfer.
The Aqua Nevis Resort Hotel is located on the outskirts of Sunny Beach, in a somewhat odd location sandwiched between a beer distribution warehouse and the local bypass. Inside however, the property is pretty decent. Our triple room looks out on the pool (and beer warehouse) – sadly you cannot see the Black Sea which is about 15 minutes walk away.
Our room has an enormous double bed, an extra single, and two very large wardrobes. The TV has about 10 channels, some of which are in English. If you really cannot live without TV, bring your Amazon Fire TV Stick or similar. We ended up playing MTV 80s for most of the day (it’s the only music channel available!).
Take your TV with you anywhere in the world – all you need is a free HDMI port. It’s not as polished as an Apple TV box but it is a lot smaller and cheaper.
Just remember that you will probably need a paid VPN subscription if you want to use British TV apps like iPlayer and ITVX while travelling.
Top tip: These devices are always MUCH cheaper during an Amazon sale.
Check-in at Club Aqua Nevis is at 2pm. If you arrive early, it is possible to complete the usual formalities – collect your towel cards, hotel wristbands and aqua park entry wristbands – but you won’t be able to get your room keycards in advance. This is not really a problem – your wristband allows you to grab lunch or start taking advantage of the all inclusive bar.
Main meals are served three times each day in a large dining room. Everything is self-service, and in one corner there are chefs working a grill and a pan, producing nightly “specials” (usually fish or chicken and pasta). This is not gourmet cooking, but it is hearty, filling and limitless. There is a large salad selection for anyone trying to be healthy and an even larger selection of desserts for everyone else. Say hi to Chris on the ice cream counter – he’s a great guy.
Late that evening I get a text message from Jet2 introducing our tour rep Chris (another one) and detailing the days and times he will be onsite to answer questions or provide assistance. There is also a 24 hour hotline if we run into real problems while in Sunny Beach.
- Jet2’s charges for seat reservations are extortionate.
- Food is available from somewhere inside the complex between 8am and 9pm, so you are unlikely to go hungry.
- There is a supermarket directly across the road from the hotel, so you can buy water and milk. Each hotel room has a small fridge to store them in too.
- Bars are open between 10am and midnight. Just about everything is included.
- The rules for collecting and returning pool towels seem oddly complicated.