Five essentials for the summer

I’ve visited Bulgaria many times, but never had the chance to really enjoy the summer here. My first two visits were during the winter and my 3rd visit was during the autumn. Last year, I came here for the 4th time during the summer but I spent all my 3 weeks preparing for my wedding. This is my 5th visit. For the past 2 months, I’ve experienced the summer more than I have ever wanted. In this post, I’m going to share with you how I feel about summer and 5 essentials you should have with you if you want to visit a country with 4 seasons during summer.

Note: The author is neither a geography expert nor a climate expert. This post is solely based on the author’s experience in Varna (Bulgaria), Rome (Italy) and Milan (Italy) in July 2014. This does not apply to all Bulgaria, all Italy or all countries with 4 seasons. This post is solely for sharing and/or entertainment purposes only. 

I am from Malaysia, a country with equatorial climate. It has either sunny or rainy days. When I told my friends that I’m visiting Bulgaria during summer, they quickly assumed that the weather conditions of “a hot day in Bulgaria” and “a hot day in Malaysia” are the same. If you’ve experienced similar conditions, you’ll definitely know that they’re not the same.

Note: The following information is solely based the author’s experience on a sunny day (without rain) in JB, Malaysia and a sunny day (without rain/snow) in Varna, Bulgaria. 

A sunny day in JB is usually hot and humid. The difference in temperature between day and night is usually small. Except when I’m in an air-conditioned room, I get sweaty very easily even I’m in a sheltered or shaded area (e.g. at home or in open-air cafes). On a daily basis, I use BB cream with SPF50 on my face, but I don’t use any sunblock on my body (unless I go to the beach, but that’s another story). Without sun block, I think walking under the sun is bearable. I try not to be exposed for too long because I’ll get tanned (or “burnt”) and freckles will start appearing. I would say that walking under the hot sun is bearable (but not advisable) without wearing a hat or sunglasses. The glare of the sun is also bearable if you don’t look at the sky directly, but of course you are most likely to be walking with your eyes half-closed (trying to protect them from the sun). Well, this is based on my personal opinion but I may be biased since I’ve lived in Malaysia most of my life! 😀

A sunny day in Varna is usually hot and dry. In the middle of the summer, the difference in temperature between day and night is small too. The temperature at this time is around 30°C (or hotter). However, during the start and the end of summer, the temperature differs quite significantly. The temperature during the day is usually around 27°C but during the night, it can go as low as 16°C. I personally feel weird because I’ve never slept in 16°C back in Malaysia at night. Even if I were to switch the air-conditioner to the lowest, it was 18° but then I would never do that. I usually kept it at 26°C. Here in Varna, I don’t get sweaty easily. Unless I exposed myself to the sun for hours, I usually don’t get sweaty after a 15-20 minutes walk under the sun. It is very weird for me that my skin burns when I’m directly exposed to the sun but once I step under some shades (e.g. trees), it actually becomes cooling. Weird! In JB, the only difference when you are under the sun or under a tree is that you don’t get burnt. Otherwise, the hot “feeling” remains quite the same. I cannot tell you why but you just need to experience the magic of tree shades during summer. Although I don’t get sweaty, that doesn’t mean I don’t get burnt! I get burnt way too fast as compared as I was in JB. Therefore, I usually apply 2 layers of BB Cream with SPF50 on my face, and a layer of sunblock with SPF50 on my body when I walk to the mall. Everyone wants to get tanned here and I’m taking measures to prevent myself from being “burnt”. Without hat or sunglasses, my eyes are almost (not half) closed. The glare from the sun can be so harsh that I can’t see properly.

If you love being tanned, then summer is your best friend. Well, if you don’t like being tanned but still love the summer, I recommend these 5 essential things you must have with you (especially if you plan to visit a country that has summer days like Bulgaria)! But  “hotness” isn’t just what I’m talking about here. Taking care of the “dryness” during summer is equally important!

Note: I like to use the word “burnt” instead of “tanned” but what I really mean is that “the skin becomes darker”.

1. Sunblock & sunscreen

  • This is a serious must! Even if you love tanning yourself, there’s no harm applying a layer or two if you know you will be exposed to the sun for a significant amount of time. I think my explanations are pretty much in the previous paragraphs! 😀

2. All your moisturizing agents!

  • Face moisturizers: If you have oily combination skin like me, please don’t think that being in a dry climate place is going to make you a beautiful princess. Your pimples will still pop up if you don’t use proper skincare. The good news are that you can put lesser layers of moisturizers on your face and that your face will not get oily so easily/fast. The bad news is that “the very moisturizing” formula you used back home is probably not suitable in this climate. I’m not sure about other skin types, you may want search for more information on the Internet.
  • Body lotion: Also a must, preferably after shower. WHY? I can’t imagine myself applying lotion on my body when I already have layers of sunblock. Over time, your skin gets drier without you noticing it. I’m not even staying/sleeping in an air-conditioned room here in Varna and I can sometimes feel my skin is dry and tight, what’s more if you are travelling and are sleeping in a hotel with air-conditioner? Body lotion is a must!
  • Hand cream: The skin around nails sometimes becomes dry and eventually it cracks. Use hand cream whenever you can. It’s not necessary but it’s good to keep one near you.
  • Moisturizing facial masks: If you have invested in good moisturising skincare products, facial masks are not really necessary. But there’s no harm wanting to look beautiful, so you can use some sheet masks. I personally gel mask.

3. Hat

  • This is pretty obvious. You don’t want to have a burnt forehead, right? It’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” (without the sunglasses) under a sunny day. Seriously, without a hat is not so bad. You’ll just have to live with a “burnt” forehead for a few months. But without sunglasses…

4. Sunglasses

  • Well, it’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” more (with or without the hat). It helps to shield the glaring sun.  But please don’t look at the sun directly, thinking that you are 100% protected. You’ll most probably be blinded. I’m personally not a “sunglasses-kind-of person”. I prefer to see things in their natural form/colour. But yeah, … without sunglasses, it’s so difficult to see anything because of the glaring sun. Everything seems to be reflective of the sun light. At this point I’m wondering, why does the sun glares more in Varna than in JB? Does it? Or does it not? Maybe I’m just biased. Hahaha…never mind.

5. Insect / Mosquito repellent

  • Seriously, I myself am surprised from this. I came from a place where mosquitoes are breeding like crazy. Yeah, I’m talking about living near to a dengue-infested lake near my previous apartment. But put aside these Aedes mosquitoes, I would say that “normal” mosquitoes are not something new back in JB. Honestly, I’ve very rarely used a mosquito repellent back home. The only time I remember using it was when I went with my parents-in-law to the Tropical Spice Garden in Pulau Pinang. I’m not sure if it is considered a mosquito repellent, it was some lemongrass spray. I didn’t feed myself that much to the mosquitoes there. Perhaps one or two bites which were inevitable. Well, I would say that in Varna, if you avoid “grassy” areas like the parks or the gardens, you are surely safe! But if you enjoy garden dining like I do, you definitely have to prepare insect/mosquito repellent! Initially, I was thinking that I was just unlucky when I garden-dined in Varna. But, I encountered the same when I garden-dined in Milan!!!!! After 2 visits to 2 different restaurants in 2 different countries, my legs are full with mosquito bite marks that I sometimes feel like crying. T_T

So, nothing about what clothes you should wear blablabla. You wear what you wanna wear during the summer. Woohoo!! You don’t need anyone to tell you that. In case you are interested, I usually wear my favourite 3S – shirt, shorts and slippers when I’m going out. Sometimes, with short dresses too. However, if I know I’ll be exposed to the sun for more than 30 minutes, I usually wear long dresses or thin long sleeve shirts with long pants (plus my hat – still not liking the sunglasses). So it really depends whether you wanna get “burnt” or not. If you’ve decided to get “burnt” all over, the best solution is to go to the beach in your tiniest strings! I promise! 😀

Finally, do I like summer? Hmmm….95% yes! Where does the remaining 5% go?! Well, I had “some problems” with summer when I had to pack for my Milan/Rome trip. After all, they are the major fashion cities and I did not want to be “underdress”. I had difficulty choosing “the perfect colour combination” so I ended up with the “safest combination” of black and white. -_-” During that packing session, I was secretly wishing that it was winter so I could just wrap myself in winter coat! Enough said! Hmmm…

Have you experienced summer in another country? Are there any differences between a sunny day in a foreign country and a sunny day in your home country? Share your thoughts with me. You can leave your comments below. Don’t worry, your email address will be invisible to others. 🙂

Alternatively, if you have a story about your experience about summer which you would like to share, find out how by clicking here.

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