Thursday, 7 January 2016

Camp in Vama Veche, Romania, on the nudist beach. Go on a boat with fishermen, dance with your feet in the sand and even go scuba diving!

Vama Veche is a place for open-minded people, located at the border between Bulgaria and Romania on the shore of the Black Sea. An empty beach in the 1980s that became the bohemian place to go, where people gathered to play folk by the fire and over the years shifted into a very popular destination with clubs, hotels, music events, but still manages to preserve its unconventional and traditional nature. The fishery is always serving fresh food provided each morning by the local fishermen whom you can join on a boat if you want to experience this adventure. Camping is for free on the beach or if you prefer staying locally in one of the old houses, either way prepare for stories to unfold and to make new friends. The laid-back scene has a nudist beach, scuba diving service and hosts numerous live events where people of all ages and lifestyles mingle.

The corner bar where you can buy shots at 3 lei only. Sambooka all the way!

How to get here

Take a train from Bucharest to Mangalia and prepare with snacks, as it is going to be a 3 and a half hour journey. After reaching your destination, there are mini buses arriving every 15 minutes from outside the station and you would need to head to Vama Veche for £ 0,5 per person only. You will get there in 20 minutes tops. Being on the train is always an adventure in Romania. I remember last time when two girls ( best friends) started chatting with two boys and ended up making each other cry and swearing. One of them had hair on her legs and thought she is smart because she had finished her uni. The other was just rude. Then a group started listening to manele on the phone while others were spitting sunflower salted seeds. Just behind us a writer was explaining the romantic movement to a drunken guy who was asleep. This is what you get only for a £10 ticket.

The old border

Vama Veche , which translates as “The old border”, is well known for its friendly atmosphere. It's becoming increasingly rare to find a non touristy location that has a nudist beach, where you can listen to good music, drink beer (which is served at £1 only) swim at sunrise with no clothes on or indeed wearing everything without being judged. Here nobody is judging. It is a common knowledge amongst locals and Vama Veche regulars that what happens in Vama stays in Vama. I remember one time I ran away from home with my tent and friends to get there and told my mum I'm in Bucharest. Just then a guy started shouting " I'M IN VAMA VECHE, MATE. VAMA VECHE, YES". Thanks, "mate"...


The accomodation can be very traditional or modern. If you choose to stay with the local people then the price is around £10/ night with a double bed included. Expect plastic flowers, tacky paintings and weird family photographs. Bonus: you get stories. The hotels are charging considerably more, but the advantage is that you can reserve rooms online, whereas the local people don't have any websites available. You will have to knock on their door and ask about availability. This is the price to pay for traditional authentic experience! If you're camping on the beach, the experience of watching the moon light on the water and listening to the waves is magical. However, loud music while you're trying to sleep is not magical at all, so try to camp on the far left or right corner on the beach, as it is more quiet.

The catch

Fishermen leave at 5 am and you can join them in exchange for a pack of cigarettes. They have interesting stories to share that you won't understand if you can't speak Romanian. This doesn't mean it will stop them from telling them, but at least you can enjoy the drinks. After, you can eat your catch at the fishery called “Pescarie”, where a little girl will try to sell you shells she collected all summer long. Sometimes, the visibility is very good and you can try scuba diving, snorkling or collecting your own sea treasures.


Clubs and night life

It is very rare not to gather by the fire on this beach. Strangers sit down to get warm while usually a bottle of drink is being passed on, a good opportunity to start talking to each other. However, if you want to stay with your own group and not socialise too much with the locals you can still enjoy the drink and people will be cool with that. Local shops are selling alcoholic drinks and cigarettes at a very cheap price and you can even go to the border with Bulgaria on a 20 minutes walk by foot to buy even cheaper booze. After this warm up, you have around 10 options to dance, one to try karaoke ( there is no entrance fee for any of them), but only three venues are offering you the dance in the sand experience. Nobody leaves until sunrise when it is common to jump in the water and celebrate the new day just beginning.

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