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Have you ever heard of Kavarna? Neither had I until a week ago when I came across the town which prides itself on being the rock capital of East Europe.
The family holiday to a Black Sea resort in Bulgaria was planned to be a relaxing fortnight, sunbathing by the pool in our villa or heading out to the sun-kissed beaches, which pride themselves on being among the best on the Continent.
It wasn’t meant to be a voyage of discovery which that’s how it turned out two Sundays ago when we set out in our rental cars towards the Kaliakra peninsula – renowned as one of the world’s most historic and beautiful capes.
We were about 15 kilometres into our short journey when one of my sons suddenly shouted out “Look, there’s Klaus Meine.”
Momentarily, I took my eyes off the road, half-expecting to see the Scorpions’ lead singer walking down the street.
Instead, I was greeted by a huge mural of Meine in familiar pose with the iconic Scorpions logo brandished above.
A few yards further down the road were another two murals, this time of Uriah Heep and a Russian band I’d never heard of.
We didn’t have time to stop but made the decision that on our trip home, we’d get out of our two cars and take a few photos.
Two or three hours later, we discovered still more murals – David Coverdale, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Jim Morrison and Lemmy.
Anyone who has been to West Belfast and seen the murals along the Falls Road, the Shankill Road and their neighbouring streets will have some idea just how spectacular street art can be.
But instead of political figures, causes and ideals featuring, here were some of our musical heroes standing tall in a town whose name had never registered before.
Further investigation revealed an incredible story which started about ten years ago when the town elected a mayor who happened to be a rock fanatic and decided to invited some of the world’s biggest bands to perform there.
Within a few years, bands such as Deep Purple, the Scorpions, Accept and Manowar had played to huge crowds in Kavarna while Nazareth loved the place and its surrounding area so much, two members of the band have spent their subsequent summer holidays there.
Unfortunately, other than seeing the painted walls, we weren’t able to witness the town’s fanaticism first-hand. Had we arrived in Bulgaria a week earlier, we’d could have seen Michael Schenker and his band in Kavarna.
But for anyone heading out to the Black Sea (and I couldn’t recommend the resorts highly enough), then it’s definitely worth paying a visit to this unlikely rock capital.
And by the way, the food at the nearby restaurant adjoining the world famous mussel farm, is absolutely delicious.
Hot sun, sandy beaches, warm sea, superb restaurants and rock music. The perfect combination!