bulgarian sea cows

I’m Sorry, But This is What Bulgaria Really Looks Like in 2015

F

or most, Bulgaria is one of those Eastern European countries we only catch glimpses of. Every four years, you might see a Bulgarian champion weight-lifter at the Olympics. Maybe you’ve spotted a curious packet of old Bulgarian stamps at the local flea market, identified by a Russian-looking alphabet, communist motifs, and skilled drawings of prized cows. I remember seeing a late-night public-access 1970’s-era TV doco, laced with heavily moustached Bulgarian taxi-drivers talking about politics and America whilst the women made home-made yoghurt and darned socks. Growing up in the “West”, Eastern Europe seemed like a kind of bizarro world where life seemed similar, and yet, very different. It seemed, in a strange way, exotic.

Not so long ago, very few people in the West knew anything about Eastern Europe. But, we were fairly certain we knew exactly what Eastern Europe was like because all our blanks were filled in by the ever-reliable Western media. A grim, poor, ramshackle, communist, and muddy group-perception of life behind the Iron Curtain emerged, and unfortunately, that image still exists for many people in the West – despite Eastern Europe having moved on long ago. In 2015, seven of the top eight tallest skyscrapers in Europe are in Russia. Budapest has the newest subway line in Europe. Romania has the fastest internet anywhere on the continent. The entire carefully crafted image of Eastern-Europe as a backwards, drab, gray, muddy, dangerous, poor little cousin of Western Europe isn’t entirely true in 2015. It never really was.

I’ve just spent six weeks in Bulgaria, it’s about as East as Eastern Europe gets.

Sinemorets ship rocks beach Bulgaria.
Sinemorets, Bulgaria.

view from buzludzha bulgaria
View from the abandoned communist party headquarters “Buzludzha”, Bulgaria.
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria.
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria.
Nesebar, Bulgaria.
Nesebar, Bulgaria.
varna beach bulgaria
Varna, Bulgaria.
Ahtopol, Bulgaria.
Ahtopol, Bulgaria.
Rezovo, Bulgaria.
Rezovo, Bulgaria. The river is the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. Those trees on the left are in Turkey.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria. One of the oldest cities in the world.
black sea bulgaria gypsy
Typical summer scene at the Black Sea, Bulgaria.

Phillipa, Black Sea, Bulgaria.
Phillipa, Black Sea, Bulgaria.
Black Sea, Bulgaria.
Black Sea, Bulgaria.
varna beaches bulgaria
Varna, Bulgaria. Fresh mussels and cold beer.
Sofia, Bulgaria.
Sofia, Bulgaria. I’ve never visited a city where so many people hang out, catch up, drink, party, play music, chill, and just enjoy life in the city parks – well into the night.
sunny beach bulgaria
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. Despite the reputation this place has, I can assure you that the media has exaggerated.
Bulgaria, 2015.
Bulgaria, 2015. Day-trip from Plovdiv to Buzludzha.
sinemorets bulgaria
Honestly, I could sit here all day adding photos like this. Sinemorets, Bulgaria.

 

I considered running this article as a top-ten list about Bulgaria (and you wouldn’t believe number three). Then, I decided against it, because it’s easy enough to pithily summarise Bulgaria in just a few sentences: Bulgaria is a classic European nation, with visual and cultural elements derived from a multitude of empires, with history spanning back longer than almost any other nation in Europe. Sofia is a vibrant and modern European capital city. There’s a handful of UNESCO-listed towns nestled in between rolling mountains, with much of Bulgaria’s stunning nature remaining pure and pristine.

Bulgaria was communist for almost half-a-century, these days that legacy is only apparent by the appearance of mostly decaying concrete monuments and brutalist architecture, and I’ve been told, the often onerous bureaucratic processes. Leafy cobble-stoned streets wind through quaint villages, and the food is great, as are the people. Bulgarians invented the Cyrillic alphabet (Bulgaria is the reason “EBPO” is written underneath “EURO” on Euro banknotes all across Europe – even though Bulgaria doesn’t use the Euro). The remote beaches along the coast of the Black Sea in Bulgaria are probably the least expensive, and quietest, peak-season beaches anywhere in Europe.

Obviously, a top-ten listicle can never do an entire country any justice. And the thing is, from a generic tourist perspective, everything about every country everywhere has already been written about, photographed, published, shared, liked, and forgotten. Already, more information on Bulgaria exists in every language than you will want or need. For thousands of years, Bulgaria has truly been a crossroads between Europe and Asia, East and West. Indeed, for millions of years, the humans that came before modern humans, have been travelling through Bulgaria.

So, I can’t see any point in getting too specific about Bulgaria with short-term prescriptive advice on what you should do and see, and I’ll leave the disposable top-ten articles to somebody else. Because, I know that travel, is personal exploration. It always has been, and always will be, personal.

During my more than 1000 days of travel (so far), Bulgaria has been the quiet highlight. I’ve visited Bulgaria seven times since I began my journey back in 2012. On this visit, I extended my stay, multiple times, at every place I stopped. It was my second time in Bulgaria this year, and I’m planning on heading back again in a few weeks from now. That’s the best endorsement of Bulgaria I can give.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I first visited Bulgaria motivated purely by a single photo. That photo did more than just make me want to visit Bulgaria.

It was a photo of Bulgaria, showing “Buzludzha” in the winter snow, that helped spur me to turn my life upside down, pack my bag, quit my job, throw away my career, leave my family and friends on the other side of the planet, and begin the life of a recalcitrant semi-homeless itinerant, just to see and experience what was really out there.

A few days ago, I commenced my fourth year of continuous full-time travel.

Nate

Not a disclaimer: I was not sponsored by Bulgarian department of tourism, even though I did send them an email suggesting the motto “Bulgaria: maybe you should make a plan to visit Bulgaria, or possibly somewhere else, whatever”, however, my stay at The Crib Hostel in Plovdiv, including a private double room, Rakija, beer, several cooked breakfasts, and some surprisingly tasty Mexican food, was provided complimentary. Much like Chelsea and Scott from “Live Your Legend” (who we met at The Crib), this is the only hostel Phillipa and I stay in, anywhere, in any country. If you do check in, say hi to my man Yotsko – he will look after you, and I don’t get paid anything for saying that. Well, maybe Yotsko would shout me a Taco Grandé and a beer.

PS, I know how to keep secrets. So, don’t leave this page without popping your email address here, and not only will your email address remain private, but you’ll join the thousands of other people receiving my free update (and exclusive info) from unknown places all over the world. My email followers, are my favourite followers. Find out why:

add your email for free updates and exclusive content:




159 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, But This is What Bulgaria Really Looks Like in 2015

    1. Thank you, I checked your IP address and see you are an employee of Jetair in Belgium, located in the city of Oostende.

      Just a personal message: you live in a wealthy, Western country (Belgium). Rather than sitting in your office at Jetair in Oostende, trolling the internet, maybe you should spend your time making the world a better place. Here’s a tip: start with yourself.

      Of course, I changed your comment.

      Have a great day.

      1. I’m curious as to what the original comment was. I can’t see why anyone could have anything negative to say about this, I’m super jealous of what you get to do. Most days I wish more than anything that I had enough money to quit everything and go travel the world with my fiance.

        1. Hey Peter, it was along the lines of that Bulgaria is incredibly boring, and that this whole page was shit. No big deal, I can handle the trolls ;)

          Believe me, I don’t take a single day for granted, I feel super-privaleged to have the lifestyle I have, and I believe that if you put your mind to it, you could do the same thing. It might not happen tomorrow, but if you’re dedicated to doing it, one day, you will.

          1. I’ve been living in Bulgaria for several years due to job reason. I can re-confirm that Bulgaria is the least place you’d want to visit cause it’s super duper boring…People tend to be quite rude and ignorant here, of course not all but many that I met. The Black Sea is really nothing special compared to its neighboring country Greece and Turkey or any other tropical countries. Maybe it’s a perfect place for pensioners with its extreme low living cost and 10% flat income tax. Otherwise I would recommend everyone to visit Romania which is just above the country Bulgaria. It’s a much more cultured place because of different colonization from the past. Especially Transylvania is a really nice region to visit with lots of great Austrian-Hungarian style architectures and lovely villages!

            At last I want to say…it’s always different when you just travel to a place for a couple of days than actually living here for several years!

            1. Hi Janet. It’s strange, even though I’ve spent just a few months in Bulgaria, it seems I got to know it better than you have.

              Perhaps you are too “cultured” for this planet?

              1. I have always found that wherever I go, there I am! So if I’m in a tiny town off the grid with one supermarket and I’m happy and satisfied, the people and experience that I encounter will be happy and satisfied. By the same token, I can be in the most amazing place according to others and if I’m off or in a way, the folks around me are usually off and in a way. How we see the world is from the perspective that we have developed throughout life. It represents the internal, not the external. The external ‘just is’ until meaning is placed on it by our perspective and our collective experience of life.

                I’ve been to both Romania and Bulgaria and have friends who live in both countries and gave me the gift of brilliant tours in both places. I have spent much more time in RO. I felt as though BG had it going on over RO as far as tourism. My time in both places was amazing and I enjoyed the culture and rich history that both countries offer. I know many Bulgarian’s who dislike their country much like there are ex pats from every region and others who love their country very much. It’s all an individual perspective.

                Bulgaria did show favoritism in hotel rates to BG’s over visitors from outside the country. Each culture has an dentrenched DNA and I love the exposure of different ways of lIfe and thinking and being! I love traveling and I love staying put too.

                Nate, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece on Bulgaria and look forward to following along on your travels. More pix of Nesebar next time would be great! Thank you!

              2. Maybe I’m too cultured for Bulgaria ;) I can only say it’s a personal taste for the country and the experiences I made from here during travelling & work in and outside BG. There’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful country just like in every country, but this country still has a lot to improve like infrastructure (road condition), education, mindset of the people, integration of Gypsies etc. Maybe it’s way off the topic since this is a blog for travel journals.

                P.s. I probably travel more hardcore than you could imagine even I don’t write dreamy blogs as you do :)

                1. Janet, I am not very sure what do u mean when saying that we have to improve infrastructure, integration of gypsies and education. The person who has invented the first computer is born and educated in Bulgaria, our gypsies are living with us already 1300 years and they just refuse to integrate and about the infrastructure if you was not given such a great support tp US politicians who worked against us during the cold war now we would have not only better roads but many other things as well like standard of living for example. It’s true that we are too direct and you see us as rude but on the same note we see you as very snobish people… I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle.

                2. I don’t think Bulgaria and Romania differ in people’s mindsets, both countries have similar institutional history, especially in the past century, and they’re very similar in economic terms.

                  I guess your perceptions depend on personal experience, however generalising a whole country by saying you’re too cultured for it is a bit far-fetched.

                  By the way, Bulgaria has a lot more highways than Romania.

                3. Janet maybe if western politics didn’t gave the money to the mafia and support it it’ll be different

                4. Janet, I am Bulgarian, who doesn’t live in Bulgaria and I am pretty sure I travel much more than you do. I have the chance to explore many places and cultures, I don’t know where you come from, but I am sorry but you seem very uncultured for me!

                5. As i see your list, i can’t agree more on what we have to focus on, completely accurate. Considering our country as destination to travel however – its fairly satisfying in many ways, i’ve been to fair number of EU countries (5 or 6 in total + Serbia) where i’ve expected to be treated as tourist while … well lets say it didn’t match my expectation for hospitality. Lets hope we would improve :) Tell us more about how people treated you, maybe we could learn how to improve :) Best, M.

                6. Mariet, I think Janet actually means that she is a prostitute. In which case, I am glad she doesn’t find Bulgaria cultured, it really is a compliment.
                  Jokes aside, Janet, love, the mere fact you refer to roma people as gypsies speaks a lot about your level of political corectness.

                7. Janet,
                  I live in a village and totally agree with every one of your comments. I blown a 250 lev brand new winter tyre in a huge pot hole and hit several others. My village life could also be a lot better. It really could be paradise in the mountains but infrastructure can sure be improved. Every year there is a heavy snow fall and every year there are power cuts. Trying to find competent tradesman that won’t charge you 4 times more than a local is also difficult – I guess it just takes time to build up credible contacts. My books don’t get through from Amazon – sacred mail it seems here can be pilfered as fair game. Still, there are also some massive benefits. The cost of living is more than a minor point as I can live like a king here but couldn’t even afford to live in a bedsit in the uk. Also where in the uk can you park for free in a city right outside your favorite cake shop for 40 p per hour or free after 5pm or free all weekend?
                  I am self exiled – I ran out of places to live. I can’t sell so just have to learn the lingo and get on with it.

                8. Janet…very cheap comment dear, just because you know a few Bulgarians doest not mean your opinion apply to all..? Does that make any sense to you??
                  It is great you have launched this dispute regarding education and whatsoever…are you actually aware of the fact that most of the Bulgarians speak several languages, yep you read it right-several, just like the time you spent in Bulgaria. So sad you have not realised that, for reference I do speak fluently four.

                  Secondly I am trying to remember who you are and where you come from to give advices about infrastructure and gypsies integration…?? :D Oh sorry, have I been sarcastic and impolite?? Of course genius there is lot to be improved in here but dont forget aint nobody perfect even you and your home place(whichever it is).

                  And yes you were right that was all about travelling as you have noticed already you went much further….

                  Last but not least, you should consider yourself and comments you left as truly vague, incompetent and incapable of presenting the reality.
                  Absolutely false statement of yours, I strongly recommending you Janet going to Nigeria and exploring the local fauna and flora.

                  Good luck mate

                  p.s Who I am- Mr. Valchev, Ba degree Medical University Varna, last year Ba Culinary Arts Management in Birmingham UCB…is that good enough for you?

                9. maybe you should do some reading as to the history of the country and how much it’s people have been though in order for you to understand why things are the way they are, not be judgmental without supporting information. in addition, there is always a balance, for example , wealthy, less-corrupt countries have nowhere near a rich culture, history, and natural beauty. but I assume that you haven’t truly picked up on anything around you while living there. clearly you need to travel and live in more countries around the world to be able to understand.

                10. Hello Janet
                  I have read pretty much all of your comments if I’m right, including the followed replies.
                  I have to say that unfortunately I do agree with your comments. The healthier system, education and infrastructure are terrible. People are rather closeminded but of course it depends where you go and which company you work for.

              3. Man, Nate.. you killed me with that last question. I am from Bulgaria and what she said was quite rude, although most of the people are really rude. This little country of ours is full of life and good people, you just have to know where to find them ;). Thank you for appreciating the beauty of our country!

                Cheers!

                1. Теодоре, много се извинявам, но за кой въпрос конкретно става дума в твоят коментар ?
                  Аз нещо не мога да разбера … Кой е авторът на този блог или пътепис или уеб сайт за България? Нейт или Peter? За мен не е ясно … Аз мислех, че Авторът казва хубави неща за България във самият материал, а пък в коментарите от Нейт чета нещо съвсем различно за мнението му относно България и че Българите са доста груби …. Доста е объркващо …
                  И защо след някои от лошите коментари тук няма Бутон?

                  Nate, are you the author of the piece above?
                  Why we can not REPLY to some of the bad comments here? It is NOT Fair !

                2. Hi Mariet…. apologies, I’m not sure why you can’t reply. I would just add a new comment at the bottom, and mention the name of the original commenter. I’ll look into it.

                  BTW, yes, I am the author, and unfortunately, I also have to run this website and be responsible for anything that doesn’t work ;)

              4. I just read this comment from Janet and your reply and it’s hilarious.
                I’ve lived in Sofia for almost two years and I love Bulgaria. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited.
                I have also lived and worked in 3 other countries so I have plenty to compare to. Some people just don’t appreciate what they have on their doorstep :)

                1. Mariet,

                  I mean people in general often do not appreciate what they have, I’m not referring to Bulgarians specifically … In London people complain, in Sofia people complain, these people always say they want to be somewhere else … but the grass is always greener on the other side.

                2. And Mariet, just to be clear, I have nothing bad to say about Bulgaria or the people here, in fact I spend 99% of my spare time developing a website about Bulgaria to try and show the world what a lovely place it is. If you’re interested you can take a look, it’s called Eat Stay Love Bulgaria.

              5. I spent a year working in Veliko Tarnovo and found these folks a wonderful lot.
                I would have no issue recommending a trip to Varna, Plovdiv, Sofia or Veliko Tarnovo and many more quaint villages.

              6. Perhaps you should take some time to really get to know the culture, the people and the country Janet. I too live here in Bulgaria and it was the absolute best thing I ever did to leave the westernised and commercialised Uk behind.

                The amazing contrasts here in Bulgaria are awesome to see, the nature and the scenery are beyond magical (how can nature ever be boring when it changes each and everyday) … The true Bulgarians are the most caring, generous and knowledgeable people I have ever met – they have little but share everything and make you so welcome in their homes, whether they are pristine and renovated or old and run down, always a smile, a welcome and a drink with something to eat.

                Every time I visit people in the villages I come away with gifts and amazing home grown food as well as a feeling of acceptance, enjoyment and magic..

                If you take the time – the culture – the folklore and the hand crafted items here are wonderful ….. I don’t think you have really tried to discover the true beauty and culture of Bulgaria….

            2. Bulgaria is a beautiful country with so much to offer. I have lived here for close to 9 years and we are still exploring new places and areas. Anyone that says it is boring should maybe get out more and actually visit various places. I have travelled around Romania a number of times and personally much prefer Bulgaria and find the people far more pleasant and friendly.

              1. Rachel Rachel Rachel :) I hope this doesn’t turn into a Bulgaria vs Romania thing, we both know that both countries have a lot to offer. I wouldn’t worry about what the other person said, I agree with you – she needs to get out more and explore. Poor thing is stuck behind a desk it seems ;)

            3. Romania is a much more cultured place???
              Have you completed your secondary education yet?:) I doubt it, honestly. You know nothing about Bulgaria-I mean nothing about its history and culture.
              “Different colonazition from the past”- haha, is it a kind of advantage or what?
              You can see nothing except “Austrian- Hungarian ” style which obviously means a lot for you:)

            4. Janet, for a person who claims to have lived in Bulgaria for several years, I think that you need to explore it to really appreciate what this country has to offer. There are so many things to see and do. I would suggest that you do it while you can and then share your thoughts with us again.

            5. Poor creature. What must have happened to you during your stay in Bulgaria, if at all, to be so negative about it.
              Or maybe some handsome Bulgarian levent has broken ur heart :) If this is the root of your angrines, let it go. I’m sure u will find ur prince charming somewhere else. Open ur eyes and mind all rest will come soon or later.

            6. I guess that you are a boring lifestyle person. Have you even been to the mountains? What have you visited anyway…?

            7. Janet,

              I would strongly advise you to leave Bulgaria and seek employment elsewhere, since you find the country which provides you with living and earning money boring. Your salary should’ve been allocated to a bulgarian who is happy to live in his country!!! Go back to where you came from!!!

          2. I live in Bulgaria part of the year, every year. I love it too! Great story and only a tiny fraction of all there is to experience. Bulgarians need nothing to have a good time. The family structures center around friendships. The friendships never end. They remain always…

    2. Hi there, I’m Bulgarian and yes it will be amazing trip and good healthy life here in Bulgaria :) I love my country very much, so if you need info about Bulgaria, just ask and will be my pleasure to come back to you and all people here, why interested the real life in My Bulgaria

      1. I live in GCC – middle east and having my annual vacation soon in Bulgaria for 35 days, first time for me to go there, me as a middle east person, when I tell my co-workers and friends that I’m going to spent a whole 35 days in Bulgaria and Bulgaria only they find it strange, I think Bulgaria have all the 3 themes: City – Beach – countryside’s/mountains.
        I hope I’m right in my decision and came back with good experience and freinds.
        Ahmed,

        1. Ahmed, 35 days is an amazing length of time. I’m certain by the end, you’ll love Bulgaria. If you get a chance, come back here and let us all know how your vacation was. Cheers, and enjoy.

          1. I just spent three days in Bulgaria, and I hate to say that I was deeply disappointed. The people were not nice and seemed to dislike foreigners (-‘d to some extent, life itself). Wish I could at otherwise! I’m sure (I hope) it will change on future trips, but the people were consistently colder, ruder, and seemingly resentful, than neighboring countries of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania (where I’ve also been in the last three months). Don’t know what else to say but from the hotel, to restaurants, to retail, and even just people on the street, the reception was colder and meaner. I’ll be back to try again, but it was shocking how consistently rude people were as a norm… a deep contrast from opposite experiences in neighboring countries.

        2. Ahmed,

          I can assure you that you’ll have tremendous time during your holiday in Bulgaria! Simply enjoy and indulge!

    3. First of all the bulgarians have made the alphabet , it was by Kiril snd Metody and then given to the Russians after they helpedus fight the Turks.Secondly it is known that in Bulgaria there are the biggest treasures of gold left by the tracks.There is much more amazing history , which makes me fully disagreewith this funny article made by someone who could not research probably.

      1. Nope they are not Bulgarians. There is no source to prove that. There are more sources for them stating they were Greeks (at least methodios) rather than Bulgarians. Byzantines were trying to teach Christianity to Bulgarians so Methodios was given the task to make a new alphabe and teach the Christianity to them. Being a Greek himself used some letters from the Greek alphabet like Π, Ρ Δ etc. Sorry to kill it Bulgarian guys as I know this is a big thing for you, but also is a big myth.

        1. Actually the Cyrilic alphabet we use today is created by their student Kliment who was Bulgarian :). But yes, Kiril and Methodios had Byzantine roots.

          1. This sounds like another desperate myth pushed to artificially breathe life into floundering modern day culture. I’ve been to more countries that created languages and writing and alphabets…. it’s really fake. My experience with Bulgarians are not as pioneers, inventors, and cultured people. My experience is a a country more brutish, cold, and rude… like their Soviet roots. I will celebrate when I experience otherwise. For now, this is all fake history.

            1. The Cyrillic alphabet was invented in the 9. century AD at the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire. It was ordered by the Bulgarian Knyaz Boris I.
              The Cyrillic alphabet has nothing to do with Cyril and Methodius (despite the name Cyrillic). This is not a myth but a mainstream historical fact accepted by the scientific community worldwide. Check for instance in Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica or any History book on Church Slavonic. Go ahead Kyle! Refute this if you can. I challenge you.

  1. Great post, per usual. Thanks for the insights into Bulgaria – I’ve haven’t stopped drooling over it since your initial Buzludzha post, to be honest.

    Seems to be a great example of that gritty Balkan realness that is starting to attract serious attention in the travel world. I’d better make it there sooner rather than later – though I’m starting to think I’ll need at least a year to see all I want to in the Balkans…

    1. Buzludzha has got to be one of the biggest draw-cards to Bulgaria! And yes, in the Balkans, even a year isn’t enough. I’ve been floating around here on and off for quite a while now, and there is just so much I’m yet to see. There’s a lifetime of things to see here…

    2. Do see the Balkans, but for your money, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, and Bosnia are better visits. Bulgaria is a work in progress. The rudeness I’ve recently experienced by most aspects of Bulgarian society must be due to an identity crisis or or jealousy or some unnamed angst to the west or visitors in general. Amazing experiences in the rest of the Balkans.

  2. Inspiring, I hope to visit Bulgaria soon. I learned a little bit about the Glagolitic Alphabet this summer on Krk. Is there a place in Bulgaria where we can see the oldest Cyrillic?

    1. Hi Dick… I’m sure there is, as Bulgarians are very proud of it. I’ve seen examples here and there, but I don’t know exactly where to recommend. I hope you will get to see Bulgaria soon, and you have a head start because knowing Cyrillic is really helpful!

    2. Hi Dick vestdijk,

      you can see Glagolitic texts in the National Museum of History in Sofia and old church Slavonic in every church on the walls under the Icons there are writings.

  3. Hi there, i really enojoy the article. Thanks for the kind words, I live in Varna but I’ve never seen the place from ‘Phillipa, Black Sea, Bulgaria.’. Could you, please tell me the location (: Thanks

    1. Hi Borislav… I spent a few weeks in Varna, staying in the old town. I *really* enjoyed my time there. The photo you are asking about was taken at Sinemorets. I really recommend taking a look down there, it’s quite amazing.

  4. Great stuff! Really. Not just because it’s about a very, very beautiful country, but your shots and notes are superb. Cheers!

  5. Varna features in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And also in ‘Drunken British kids on foreign beaches series 5’.
    As to Polvdiv, only heard of it recently when watching random episode of US ‘Who do you think you are’ featuring Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks wife, whose family name is Ibrahimoff, her father being Greek – Muslim born and brought up on both sides of what is now the Greek/Bulgarian border, um called Western Thrace at some point, so I looked it up and still cant work out which country or empire it was at what time ! Im including Ottoman, Nazis and Communists as empires.

    1. Ending “-off” clearly shows it is a Bulgarian name – there are no Greek names like that. “Ibrahim-” shows it is Muslim, since it is a typical name among them. Region was Bulgarian but captured by Greece in WW1 I believe, now it is Greek and the people there are Greek. Most of the people would either call themselves Bulgarian or Greek, depending on what will make their lifes easier :)

      1. Nenko, “ibrahim ” is “abraham”…I personally suspect that Rita Wilson’s father family in Oraio, Greece were turks and not “pomaks” as officially claimed , “pomaks” spoke bulgarian while Rita’s father family were and still speaking turkish , not Greek or Bulgarian. Hassan Ibrahimov however, spoke several languages move to Smolyan around 1927-1934, where he was drafted as a soldier in Bulgarian army in 1941 and actually invaded his own town Oraio (bul. Брещене, Орайово). There Hussan was sentenced to 3 years, 8 months imprisonment for stealing 28 siphon bottles and 5 levas ( around $30 today) , a very small amount of money – a minor crime, but for an army with strict discipline was not. in 1943/46 Hassan settled in Plovdiv and apparently married to Armenian woman and had a son with her ,which is not a wild spreat fact. Hassan’s has a secret file from that time ; he actually had been in a labor camp since October 1946 and then was transferred to other camps, including a mining camp. in 1947 he managed to escaped the coal mining labor camp and apparently came to America on May 4, 1949 as a stoker on a ship. Than officially in 1960 Hassan converted to Orthodox Christianity upon his ( second) marriage with Margarita’s mother and changed his name from Hassan Ibrahimoff to Allan Wilson . Strangely the records shows Rita’s parents’ married in June 10, 1951, not in the 60’s, so it took him 10 more years before Hassan converted to Christianity and changed his name.

        The true name and religion of her mother Dorothy Ibrahimov is also unknown, even though Wilson claimed she was Greek.

  6. Hi Nate,

    I am really glad that you liked Bulgaria! I have been to a lot of places in Europe (as you will probably find from my IP) and rarely someone in Western Europe knows about Bulgaria. If they do mostly is bad stuff from the media, as you mentioned. Anyway, it feels good to the heart when someone knows something good about your home country.

    The places you visited are really one of the best, but Bulgaria is literally filled with beautiful landscape, interesting cities, monuments and so on (I hope someday Bulgarians will realise that too, but we will have to push and wait for it :/ ), I wish you visit them all! :)

    It was pleasure to read your thoughts.

    Thanks.

  7. Hey Nate,

    Nice pics and words about Bulgaria, a country I enjoy visiting quite a lot as well.

    Since you’re in the area, maybe you’d be interested in visiting Romania as well, there’s quite a lot of beautiful places in here as well :).

    Cheers!

  8. Enjoyed this articles pretty much as well. As a Bulgarian student crossing the world for a ”better education that the one in Eastern Europe” so many people ask me why my whole world spins around getting a plane/bus /train ticket for back home. Well I asked many times myself the same question and honestly I can’t put it into words that simply. The West is so tidy, clean and ordered and people are earning good money, driving nice cars, going to expensive holidays and so on. Life is smooth (and fake). That is what I dislike the most, walking on a Wednesday evening trough a city in Austria and seeing all the lights off, everything closed, life is over because people need to work, earn money and put them in banks. Thorough my eyes that is the major difference between the East and the West , people in the East don’t have massive bank accounts but they have big dreams and appreciate life. Is that simple. Just visit and you will know what I mean. Cheers.

  9. So many kind words! As a Bulgarian, I thank you!

    I was really surprised to read that Buzludzha was that one thing which brought you to Bulgaria (which I absolutely understand, the monument and the landscape are stunning!). Can you believe that a lot of Bulgarians see no value in it?

  10. Two years ago I spent quite a bit of time in Bulgaria. I visitedSofia, Plovdiv and Leshten and drove through the mountain ranges and met the most wonderful people you can imagine. Best trip I ever took.

    1. Of the ten countries I’ve visited in the last six months, Bulgaria was at the very bottom. There is another side to what folks on this message board/blog have experienced. I’ll be back to visit other areas of Bulgaria, but so far, my experiences lead me to say that the majority of Bulgarians I met were not friendly and not interested in growing, changing, developing, or being involved with global (let alone EU) dialogue. There’s an insecurity and preemptive meanness that appeared to hang over the place. I hope it changes on my next visit in 6-8 months!

  11. I’m in Bulgaria for 6 months, of course I haven’t seen enough, but it is an amazing Country!
    It is a very different culture, so I’m still adapting with relationships… but I’m a Brazilian, so I can’t blame them :)

  12. Well, good or bad, this is what we are – honest. We know our shit, of course, but we are slowly making progress.
    Thanks for that review.

  13. Hey Nate,
    I really enjoyed reading your article, I think it really gives the reader a bit more of a personal view of Bulgaria and the places you visited there.
    I am from Bulgaria, so it feels nice when I read articles like yours. Unfortunately, lots of Bulgarian people have spent very little time exploring the country. I am originally from a small town near Plovdiv – it’s called Pazardzhik (Пазарджик), which is not very interesting, haha, but I would suggest for your next visit to consider the Seven Rila lakes (if you haven’t been there before) and some of the caves near Devin; and the Rhodopi mountain where the “marvelous bridges” or Чудните мостове, are. There is also a small town in the Rhodopi mountain called Batak, with a small church where the bones of the people who died during the batak massacre in 1876 at the beginning of the April Uprising, are being held. It’s not a very cheerful experience but it’s keeps a huge bit of our history. Personally, Rhodopi is my favourite mountain, but they all have something to offer. I hope you enjoy your other visits in Bulgaria too and thanks again for the nice article.
    Anna

  14. Sea coast is not bad, but you should go again, since you’ve missed the most magnificent and magical places – the mountains. Rila and Pririn are amazing and if you got to the Rhodope mountains are one of the most beautiful places on this Earth.

  15. Another comment from Bulgaria
    I see that you like it here and I am happy for that.Yes we have many problems but no matter how bad is everything we support each other.
    You have to know that you make the best choice for stay in Plovdiv. I love this town and the people. No matter that I live in Varna, silly but true.
    So I can suggest you if you are coming here again, you have to visit some of the best cities.I don’t mean sofia, go on Google maps and search for Melnik or Trayvna which is our best city for old stuff made like a thousand years ago….
    If we are going to talk for food, I think that you didn’t try our best soup Shkembe, or traditional kufte wich you say meat balls,or lutenica. And many others.
    So next time you came here mail me and I will suggest you some trips
    Best wishes from BG Marin

  16. Just recently watched the Drunken UK teens in Sunny Beach show (or What happens in Sunny Beach)…I am originally from Burgas, right next to Sunny Beach…and I have been living in California for 13 years.
    I consider my teenage years wild, with lots of partying and drinking in Sunny Beach every summer. And I was just in SHOCK at the way UK teenagers party in Sunny Beach!
    We never even done 5% of what they are doing…
    So for the “cultured” previous poster…the party scenes are more of embarrassment for UK kids than of the Bulgarian country itself.
    I have to agree that the people are rude…clearly not cool. But French are rude, Italians are even more…and South Koreans just yell at you…still there is plenty to see in these places.

  17. Nate,

    Funny, been thinking about you, your travels and the imagery from the divine. ( your photo skills keep improving, I must say!) .
    I just found out from my older brother doing one of those DNA reports, that I have strong hereditary traits from the region you have been bangin around with Phillipia( sorry if spelling is off). Just makes me want to spend a few seasons connecting with the ancients.

    So, keep on keeping on, tell me your secret of financial abundance and maybe, just maybe, if you see a vintage scooter with a bewildered pole on it, flag it down, could possibly be me….ha!
    Say hello to the world for me from your Bulgarian hang out!
    Be well
    Laurence

    1. OK – this is freaky – I was just looking at an old post and saw a comment from you, and thought, I should send Laurence a message! One minute later, bam, your comment is here.

      Interesting family connections there – I think that means I owe you a beer when you get over this way ;)

      Take care mate!

  18. I enjoyed reading your article. I left Bulgaria 10 years ago but visit every year. Now that I’ve lived abroad for so long I realize that it takes certain mindset to adapt and/or accept different cultures. The first reaction is always of criticism. Then, you begin to understand that different is not necessarily bad or wrong. I think Georgi’s comment was right on.
    The blunt direct opinionated Bulgarian may often appear rude, when in fact she can merely be honest and outspoken. Well, it is not infrequent that you see Bulgarians who are burned out and jaded having lived 45 years under communism and 30 more witnessing redistribution of communist assets via criminal organisations. Yet , there are successful, open minded young people enjoying life and building the new face of our, over the years, much tormented country.
    On the other hand, Bulgarians tend to perceive the people from western countries as snobbish and distant, cold and indifferent when in fact there are polite, considerate and many times rather remain silent than express a negative comment. It is funny that for the first 4 years I couldn’t pick up on negative feedback…it was so subtle for my Bulgarian brain :-)
    Back to your article. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  19. Hey Nate, great post! You’ve really shown some unexpected sites along with the most popular ones :)
    Everyone sees a place through their own eyes and decides to like or not like what they see… For me, Bulgaria is still a place where you can discover something new and amazing on every trip. As I live now away from Bulgaria, I get sometimes asked why I visit at all, instead of going somewhere else?!? The problem is, when you live at a place and deal with everyday problems, you stop seeing it for its beauty. Sad, really.
    If you allow me, I’d like to share my “top 5” reasons to visit Bulgaria: http://ntripping.com/5-reasons-to-visit-bulgaria-right-now/
    Thanks for a different view on the topic and amazing photographs!
    Cheers, N.

  20. Just to let you know that the fastest internet in whole Europe in not in Romania, is in BULGARIA! This is something we are very proud with!

  21. Thanks, Nate, and may you encounter only good people and incredible places to see during your trips.

    Best regards from Sofia, Bulgaria.
    Ivan

  22. For Dick Vestdijk:
    Try the often ancient monastries in Bulgaria, like Rila Monastry. You might find a lot of Glagolitic writing.

  23. First of all, great pictures you have posted!

    A quick review about this country:

    Nature: Phenomenal, astonishing and just plain beautiful!
    Unfortunately you will find quiet often pollution and trash in mid nature, which always makes you wonder why the locals throw their beer cans right next to a beautiful waterfall.

    Politics: None!
    There are some people that pretend to practice the profession of a politician, but they are more like a joke. Those people unfortunately still have the mind set of small street thief’s.

    Infrastructure: Diverse!

    Thanks to the EU there is quiet an improvement to downtown Sofia and surrounding areas. Also, it will surprise you that some 30 year old mountain roads are in better condition than some roads build 2 years ago.

    Rights: Diverse!

    Money buys everything! Corruption is everywhere, from the small local police officer to the highest ranked politicians. You can go to jail for running over a chicken. You can get away with murder if you know whom to pay. Bad news if you are a foreigner, police knows the advantages of a strong foreign currency.

    People: Diverse!

    The intelligent and / or educated folks is either trying to migrate to a better life or at least they are seriously considering the move. If you life in a closed environment with an established social network, earning somewhat enough money, you might feel well here. Although the everyday exposure to stupidity and hate as well as road rage can drive you crazy, day by day.

    Conclusion: Vacation and short to mid-term visits are recommended. Living here and establishing a family and having serious thoughts about your future should be well thought through. This country has its very beauty and the total opposite. In terms of the good the bad and the ugly, the ugly is dominating the game.
    People tend to always point out the rich history of this country, which truly is amazing and impressing. But unfortunately this history doesn’t help the 80% of the people that are living of nothing in this country. The extreme poverty combined with the extreme wealth of a few, is a perfect fire starter for a social disaster.

    There is much more I could talk about but this should give you an pretty good overview.

    Also, I would like to mention that the pictures are truly beautiful, and I have been to many of those places. But pictures do show just a very limited frame of the whole.

    If you plan on visiting the black sea, go in June or September in case you want to see the purity of this place. Otherwise you will face a clash of tourists, locals, beer cans, cigarettes and factor 50 sun cream swimming in the water.

    1. So true, Sababa, your posted analysis is almost 100% right to the point. And, unfortunately, I have to agree with your ‘Conclusion’, as well.

      1. I agree with Sababa’s comment completely, as it describes thoroughly the situation in Bulgaria. Despite of the outrageous reactions to Janet’s opinion, it’s a well known fact that 2,5 million people already left this desperate country for better education, career or even survival. For example, the above mentioned inventor of the first digital computer Jhon Atanasoff is born and raised in the US. He has partial Bulgarian ancestry, BUT in the end is an American scientist. Actually, Some of the outrageous comments above are telling a lot about the mindset of the people living here. Otherwise, it’s awesome to gather beautiful pictures, emotions and impressions during a short term trips around this and other Balkan territories.

  24. Thanks for writing such a nice perspective of Bulgaria. I lived there for 3 years, spending about 2 years in Plovdiv and can’t wait to get back. There are so many great places to see from cities like Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo to the many small villages. One of my favorite places to go is Selanovsti, a small town near the Danube.

    1. Hey Dan, I’m Bulgarian and one of my best friends is from Selanovstsi, so I’m wondering what did you like in it? For me it seems as an isolated place (besides some crazy american guy named Curtis living there), not suitable for foreign tourists.

  25. Thank you for your kind words regarding this country, most importantly – one of my favorite cities of all time (Plovdiv). Your pictures are great, and very nicely depict what I too like about Bulgaria, especially about the seaside.

    However I must comment on the latter, since I just got back from the sea. Some of the largest tourist destinations are indeed ruined. Overpopulated, overbuilt, ugly hotels made for the sole purpose of gathering as many guests as possible, illegal buildings right next to the seashore.

    And the worst – Russian middle class tourists all over the place, like, hundreds of thousands of them, some of whom actually own apartments there from recently, so they’re there to stay. I’ve missed the last few years of development of the popular tourist destinations, so I’m kinda surprised. Apparently a mass campaign about gathering Russians is going on for years, and these are the fruits from it. Most of the Russian tourists are not very intelligent, are often rude and loud, and while I met some decent, nice families during my last trip, the majority were just as I pictured them. Unfortunately, this is what locals and local mafia (the same with the illegal buildings etc.) wants, they attract Russians, while Romanians and Greeks for example prefer to go to a little more expensive, but nicer places like those in Greece.

    So, my advice is, when you go to Bulgarian seaside, pick a smaller town, smaller tourist destination. Those on the North (above Varna) are still pretty much untouched by the way, go while you still can. If you go to Sozopol, Nesebar, Zlatni Pyasatsi (Golden Sand) during the peak of the season, you may regret the decision (despite the fact that Sozopol has a great Old City part that you GOTTA see if you’re there). If you go there slightly off-season, you may find it just empty and lonely, in a way.

  26. Your pictures are beautiful! I’ve only spent about three weeks total in Bulgaria but it’s a beautiful country. I had never left the US before travelling there and adopting our little boy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, most of our information came from other adopting families and experiences were kind of all over the place. Since this is a travel blog I’ll leave out the negative things I could say about their societal views on people with disabilities, and children being sent to live in adult mental institutions. During our first trip there, the ‘meetcha’ trip we stayed in Veliko Tarnovo, and if you haven’t been there yet you should go!! It was (as I guess most of the country is) an amazing mix of old world and new. We stayed at the Real Hotel and it was lovely and much more modern than we were expecting. But we also visited the ruins of a castle and the views were amazing of the mountains and the villages in them. Every restaurant we ate at had great food and we were impressed at how inexpensive it was. Our last night we ate at the restaurant Shtastlivetsa and it was gorgeous and every thing we ate was delicious! I wanted to take pictures of the inside, every thing was so pretty, but I didn’t want to look like a total tourist, taking pictures of the tables and decorations :)

  27. You really must see some of the mountains in Bulgaria! I guarantee that the pictures will be amazing :)

  28. Everyone in Bulgaria studies languages, because we all want to go out of here. Even i am in a language school. I think thats enough. Come for 2 weeks or 2 months, but not for life….

      1. Most of them just want to live wealthy and don’t care for the country. Instead of getting of their lazy asses and trying to change something they choose the easy way out. That’s pretty much it. By the way is this a C6 Corvette in the pic and is it yours or rental? It sure looks awesome!

  29. Hey, this article left me speechless! I’m also from Bulgaria and I still haven’t visited some of those places, but your photos were brilliant.

    But guys, I think you went out of topic here. Bulgaria, as land, is beautiful in every single way, as I see it. But the country is trash. The political system has a long way to go to reach its perfect stage, but that isn’t a valid exuse to leave. I don’t like the education here, that’s why I’m going to study 5 years in Germany, after which I want to come back here.
    I LOVE Bulgaria and I’m certain I’m coming back. I don’t care about the system because I know I can change things here. And this is so exciting!

    Bulgaria is awesome! People can be harsh sometimes but don’t pay attention. Find those who actually worth it. And there’s a lot of those people. We have plenty of mountain peaks, castles, historical monuments, monasteries, stone and cliff wonders, delicious food, mind blowing alcohol, astonishing views of nature, cultural events, beautiful cities like mazes and so on and so on. So don’t you dare missing paying us a visit! <3

    1. Thanks Sunny – I think your plans, and your attitude, is really great. There are good and bad people in every country, and unfortunately, bad politics in almost every country. People often have the “grass is greener” attitude, when really, they haven’t spent any time on the other side of the fence.

      From experience, I can say that people in Bulgaria, in general, are warm, generous, and community-minded. More so than most other countries. Of course, as I mentioned in the article – Bulgaria is not perfect. However, what most people don’t realise is that no country is.

      I’m with you – I don’t care about “the system”, I will work within the system to change my own life, for the better.

      Good luck!

  30. As a Bulgarian living elsewhere this article made me really miss it. Reading some of these comments its clear that some people don’t see the good sides of Bulgaria only the bad and commercialized ones (gypsies etc). This country has so much history that its simply amazing compared to other countries. Hoping to go back soon. Great article, you captured a lot of the good in Bulgaria!

  31. Mr. Robert.,

    I read this post when you published it and thought ‘hmmm, seems like fun, I should go have a look.’ Then, I came back and read all the comments and knew I must visit азыр.

    In related news, we’re having visa issues and on the verge of being kicked out of our current home. Perhaps a sign we should leave and get out on the road?

    I think a visit to Bulgaria may be in our very near future.

    1. Damn Eric, I was considering coming to see you soon(ish)…either in a month, or in November (another cold winter)… if you want any advice/tips/anything, let me know!

  32. Bulgaria is an adventurous country where you can find freedom to do anything you imagine

  33. Hey Nate. I feel guilty saying that I am woefully behind in reading your blog, and I need to take the time to catch up. Great post as always. I love that you’ve opened my eyes to the travel possibilities in Eastern Europe. I’ve always loved your different POV on travel and the places you’ve visited. As I said the other day, I can’t believe you and Phillipa have been on the road for three years now. I don’t remember how, but I remember stumbling across your blog when you were getting ready to leave. I remember marveling at you talking about giving up your job, downsizing, and getting ready to leave. I was so envious, still am. I’m so glad our virtual paths crossed, and I looked forward to our paths crossing in real life one of these days. Keep being you, and keep the stories and photographs coming.

  34. Funny that I stumbled upon this article today, because yesterday my waitress at my local diner in Connecticut was Bulgarian. When I told her that I had spent half my summer in Eastern Europe, but had not visited Bulgaria she asked me why I skipped it. I have no good answer for that, but seeing this post, I think it’s going to be my first destination for next summer’s travels!

  35. Hey Nate,

    i did see that you will be traveling to Burgas soon. If you have the time try to visit Strandzha nature park, its basically on your way to Sinemorec. There are some beautiful villages around and the view from the top is astonishing! Bordilovo is one of those villages which is just about a 10 – 15km off the drive from Tsarevo.

    @Sunny, many people have had the same thoughts as you do but eventually all those hopes break down. I wish you the best not giving a damn about the system and changing it within. But this is something that can not be changed by single individuals, and as for know the residents of this country are not willed to sacrifice for change. Also this change might happen some day but not in our as well as the next generation.

    @Nate, the grass is greener on the other side attitude is something that human kind will always endorse and chase. BUT, people live here with 150 euros a month outside of Sofia, try to tell them about the grass is greener attitude. Where else in Europe can you buy a house in a beautiful mountain village for 5000 EUR???? Why? Because everytime you go on vacation, people will steal you stuff and there is not really much you can do about it. I have lived on the greener and not so green sites. Please consider that this country is part of the EU and that it is pure misery for people living here. Sure we could compare with Africa. But hey, there is always worse. Also, statistically, Bulgarians are one of the unhappiest people in the world.
    http://unsdsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf
    Check this out. 144. Place after Afghanistan and 3 places before Syria. This is pretty strange especially looking at all the countries that are in front of Bulgaria.

    As this could be a endless topic, just go and enjoy and dont forget to check out the mountains! Strandzha as i mentioned before is close to you next Burgas trip. Once you make it to Sofia, check out Vitosha, Rila and the rhodope mountains. By the way Musalla at Rilla Mountain is the highest peak at the Balkans, worth to visit and gorgeous!. The 7 Rila Lakes are worth a visit and lots of other good stuff around there.

    Enjoy and keep sharing you beautiful pics and stories.

    Greetings

  36. I really enjoyed this article and I find it wonderful that there are travelers who enjoy their stay here that much. I just wanted to note that at the end of the day you’re a tourist and you see probably the best of every place you go, as every tourist. Life here is… let’s say weird, in a really specific balkan-post-communist-south-eastern way :D.
    So, yeah, Bulgaria looks like that in 2015. And that’s an amazing touristic attraction. But living here… People have reasons to talk shit about it, after all. Thank you anyway, it’s good to hear something good about Bulgaria for a change.

  37. I really enjoyed reading your article, it bolstered my own thoughts on Bulgaria.
    My wife and I are making the giant leap and moving to the Elena district next Spring. Even as retired folks, there’s still one more adventure left in us! Oh, and we’ll be driving from the UK to get there…

  38. Hi Nate,

    I just wanted to say I have truly enjoyed reading all of your posts. I am from the U.S. and am currently living in Poland with my amazing Polish wife who wants to see the Balkans as well. After your amazing posts about Bulgaria we are currently setting up a road trip there as well. I truly appreciate your site and look forward to the next adventure. Safe travels!

  39. Hey Nate,

    Thanks for the good words! As a Bulgarian living abroad, it’s making me severely homesick, but in a good way :)

    Cheers,
    Iskra

  40. Visiting the Rhodopes Mountains is a MUST! Some places I’d recommend – the Trigrad Gorge, Yagodinska Cave, the Devil’s Throat Cave, – all these west of Smolyan. The region of Kardzhali – the remains of the ancient Perperikon /more than 4000 years old! /, Tatul, an ancient sacred place believed to have been a temple of Orpheus, many remains of Thracian shrines, and breathtaking views of beautiful rocks, river meanders, forests – beauty is everywhere around you.

  41. Hello, Zdravei!
    both my parents are bulgarian. I was born and live in Vienna, and because of that It was very important for them that i am close to my culture and my roots, so we went to visit our family in varna since i am 4 months old every summer. Since then, i have never experienced a summer in Vienna but i don’t see it as a loss (although vienna has the highest living standard in europe, bulgaria is my bae! I also went to bulgarian school for 8 years the same time i visited my usual school in vienna. I even got a diploma, which is like a graduation. As that being said, i think it’s obvious that i am bond to this country. it makes me cry, it makes me laugh, i love the geography, i love the people and their ignorant image. i love the good and the bad, everything.

    I always felt that the other people around me don’t think like that, they don’t see anything special in Bulgaria, i knew it was just my personal opinion, which was/is influenced emotionally, and because of that i found it so surprising that when i showed a friend my city while she was staying in a hotel at the golden sands, she was amazed. She even told other mutual friends in vienna and now everyone wants to come! That is so beautiful, and i am very happy that you too fell in love with my little precious. You are a real traveller, not a tourist. You are always welcome such as everyone appreciating our waters and mountains.

    Oh and by the way, the 12th picture is taken from the broken restaurant in varna, am i right? Thats my favorite place in the world. You found it. If don’t, you have to return and go there.

    I also gave my email so you can send me other trips and pictures. I hope you recognize me by my very long and complicated surname :D have a nice day and thank you for this page!

  42. I’m a UK expat, ‘Beach-Bum’ realist and recluse since 2009. I live inland around 60km west of Burgas. I recognise this forum to be one containing comments and information written by several individuals who’ve set aside their Rose Tinted Spectacles to form their opinions. That written, be wary of water quality in areas such as Officer’s Beach near Varna and Lozenets between Sozopol and Sinemorets: both beaches have been closed due to unacceptable water quality and as far as I can tell, (as of February 26th 2016), no meaningful remedial work has occurred. In general, Black Sea off shore currents run along the coast from the direction of Romania down toward the Turkish/Bulgarian border and contaminated water will, therefore, be diluting as it’s carried southward from these areas. Visiting motorists, particularly north- western Europeans, should be mindful of Bulgaria’s road fatalities per 100,000 vehicles statistics and expect to witness and be subjected to acts of mindless stupidity and recklessness and drive accordingly whilst avoiding areas of roadway where the Earth’s Crust can be inspected in the potholes .. Pampers are available from most Bulgarian chemist shops.

  43. You’re not the only one who spent more days than planned in Bulgaria :) I know many tourists from my country, Romania, and from other counties as well who booked a tour in Bulgaria during summer and extended their stay there. It has a certain “magic” to it.

  44. Are you sure that the Bulgaria is the one who created cyrilic alphabet? As I’ve heard (and studied in school), Cyrilic Alphabet was created by a serbian man named Vuk Karadžić… Not trying to be rude though, great article!

    1. Nope they are not Bulgarians. There is no source to prove that. There are more sources for them stating they were Greeks (at least methodios) rather than Bulgarians. Byzantines were trying to spread Christianity to Bulgarians so Methodios was given the task to make a new alphabe and teach the Christianity to them. Being a Greek himself used some letters from the Greek alphabet like Π, Ρ Δ etc which Bulgarians themselves can confirm that. Sorry to kill it Bulgarian guys as I know this is a big thing for you, but also is a big myth.

      1. Its not even funny anymore so let me help you.
        “Cyrillic is derived from the Greek uncial script, augmented by letters from the older Glagolitic alphabet, including some ligatures. These additional letters were used for Old Church Slavonic sounds not found in Greek. The script is named in honor of the two Byzantine brothers,[7] Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius.”
        Cyril and Methodius(both greek, brothers) create THE GLAGOLITIC ALPHABET. Their disciples(bulgarians) use the GLAGOLITIC ALPHABET to create the “CYRILLIC”. They name it “CYRILLIC” to honor one of their teachers(Cyril).
        Or with simple words – the cyrillic script is created by bulgarians based on the alphabet that was created by greeks.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glagolitic_script
        On the bottom of the page you can compare glagolitic and cyrillic and see the difference, its not rocket science.

  45. It is always this “RO-BG” thing… can’t you people understand that these are two different countries! Of course Bulgaria has its negatives, of course there are rude people but why we should judge the country because of some red-necks? Who invented the Cyrillic, history, computers, roads, food, drinks, money… SOOO BORING! People, you should appreciate what you SEE, you should enjoy the places you visit and keep you negativism only for yourself.
    The way the author has showed Bulgaria, definitely made me feel good and showed me the way tourists see our country!
    Nate, if you head up to Bulgaria again, I would love to share with you some places you might like but are not known from everybody!
    Cheers buddy, #enjoy and #discover!

    Bests,
    George

    1. Thanks George. To be honest, Bulgaria is becoming like a second home to me. I’ve already spent a month or so in Plovdiv during 2016, and I’ll be returning again in a month or so from now. It truly is a great country, and slowly but surely more people are realising what a gem it really is.

  46. How can you even dare to say Bulgaria is boring and uncultured ? This country is founded 681 and has a lot to tell the world. I lived in Holland for over 10 years and visited enough of Europe and couldn’t find a similar culture to compare with Bulgaria, the people and everything else. Educate yourself before posting!

    1. It’s not boring. I’m Bulgarian and we have wonderful nature, cuisinde and… and that’s it!
      Don’t get me started on the people. Everyone loves Russia too much there. And it’s true, people are very negative. Some Westerners are negative, too like the Dutch. I do cherish my childhood memories from the 90’s and early 2000s growing up in Bulgaria, but one cannot live on memories. Unfortunately, society has become OTT negative and toxic, discussing politics on every occasion and other toxic topics like that. I agree that many Bulgarians are rude. But the same is true for Londoners, many Dutch people, Norwegians are passive-agressive, many German people (seriously Germanic tribes must have a gene for hatred or/and anger!). US Americans are nice as long as you’re their color. I think French people have the name of being rude. I just hope, I pray to God that’s not true as I feel something special for France, something I have never felt even for Bulgaria. Like a longing to go there, like… home. Bulgaria never really felt like home to me.

      1. Ahem, Alena…

        I think you confuse the blog with the comments below it.
        The blog itself is flattering for Bulgaria, I think he says very nice things for the country.
        Did you even read it??

  47. One of the best things in life was to know Georgi Stantchev from the city of Sofia. He was my best friend of many years until his death. We talked about going to Bulgaria where he told me we would eat and drink like humans were created to do. Lol… Alas, we never made the trip but I feel as Bulgaria could be my second home. Long live Bulgaria!

  48. You really should stop insulting Bulgaria and any other Eastern European country for that matter. I’ve been in USA and most Western European countries. If I start posting pictures of “their backyards” ( read ghettos) , they would be much more strikingly ugly than these posted in this hateful article. I have seen human fecals on a street in Germany and many places in US you would afraid to walk even in the middle of the day. Many westerners are arrogant, selfish, dirty, farting, smelling, politically and otherwise uneducated, ….., I can go on and on. Thanks to the mafia and US greediness Bulgaria has places that gave material to your hatred , Ms. Janet or whatever your name is. Get out of my country and shut up your filthy mouth. We dont want someone like you in Bulgaria. Moron.

  49. I have been studying Bulgaria for a few weeks now. The entire history from the beginning through Ottoman rule and the USSR influences and down to the statistics of the economy and growth. The median income, etc….Bulgaria is a different world then I am used to. I lived in Europe for a few years in the military 30 yrs ago and am doing my research about this country. The truth is…..I am married to a Bulgarian woman. The best personality and outlook I have ever seen. Family ties are strong and I go to the Bulgarian Culture Center gatherings and am learning the …very difficult…language. Her whole family except her parents have left the country to work. It seems like jobs are very scarce and wages are the lowest in the EU. Beautiful YES…the most patriotic people I have met. After she gets her US citizenship we will live in the US and retire in Bulgaria. Hell I may just move there in a few months forever…I don’t know. All I can add to this blog is that the country has economic problems that are being fixed and , as my wife tells me also, the people may not say hi to passerbys but this new world, to me, will be were I may very well spend the rest of my life. Its not perfect but its real. Don’t bash a little country because you cant go to Walmart at 3am or they steal your mail and maybe charge more if you are an outsider. It is what YOU make it. Kindness is a currency accepted everywhere in the world. Save up some before you go and you may find it a different world. I am just a mechanic living in Sarasota, FL. My wife and I are athletes and adventurers. This is my opinion so be nice. I am nobody special so…..

  50. Dear Stranger, who wrote this,
    Thank you!
    Your words made me love my land, my nation and myself more!
    Let God bless you!
    Desislava

  51. Bulgaria is cheap,good food,country is beautiful, every comfort you need,and centered in the middle of great travel destinations. The problem with most Bulgarians is that they don’t see worth in themselves or the beauty that they have. These ideals of themselves create oppression and such heaviness leads to rudeness and the other negative emotions. However, there is rudeness and hatred in every culture. I like Bulgaria for the most part. If I could change anything it would be to bring down the poison of Orthodox church,sex industry, and mafia types. To lift up a true image of Christ in these broken people’s lives and allow them to see the beautiful creations they are and the beautiful country He gave them. Prayers always for Bulgaria and to all nations.

  52. Excellent article! Thank you!! It was the title that caught my attention when researching on whether to go to Bulgaria or not. Fantastic.

  53. I’ve have left three entries, and yet none of them passed the content police who decide what is posted. For anyone who thinks this website represents a unanimous love for all things Bulgaria, it’s just fake. It’s information control. My experience was quite the opposite. People were rude, and much of the society felt like my years spent in Algeria, Yemen, and Pakistan. There is a coldness, and a rudeness, but then again, this comment won’t be posted because it’s not as cheery as the other input. It’s just sad to see such information control by a “happy” website. I travel nonstop, among 30-40 countries a year, and do spend about 1-2 months a year in the USA (NYC, CA). I will be back in Bulgaria in a few months… I hope I find things different. Thanks, Kyle.

    1. Hi Kyle,

      There are no “content police” here, or information control. Each comment is approved manually just to prevent spam, and sometimes (as I’m travelling a lot), it may take a few days before I see the comments.

      As far as rudeness, I find that in this world, whether it’s Bulgaria, or any other country, you attract what you give out.

  54. Hey folks,just back from a year living in Varna,been reading these comments,and it seems some people say its are bad etc etc and some say good..I saw lots of Bulgaria and the scenery is gorgeous and the mountains are beautiful,the Black sea is nice too..the people can be friendly and happy and some can be very direct and some can be rude or moody..but every country has that in its people,I come from Ireland where we have the reputation as one of the friendliest places in the world(just look what our fans did in france during the soccer)I found in my local area for instance the first few weeks i found people a bit cold or just doing their job like in the few bars and cafes etc but once they got to know my face I got greeted as a one of their own!!high fives and cheers about my antics drunk night before or something like that and no problems,even my grumpy shop keeper grew on me after few weeks haha!!but I will tell the truth about somethings,In varna by the beach the macho attitude of the muscle brigade is almost laughable(guys just relax remove the sunglasses when it gets dark and stop walking swaying the shoulder that fake swagger walk every macho guy walks the same..been said to me by Bulgarian men and women)the walkways or foothpaths are really bad in some places( I work in the construction industry all my life and the concrete slabs are just fired on mud or sand..no cement or stone used..not their fault lack of budget)..the Buildings are mass concrete soviet style..inside they are fine from what I saw, public transport is really good I think 1 lev on the bus is super cheap in the city centre,beer and food is super cheap and good and the fruit and veg is best Ive eaten,found things I did not like and things I did,for me it was so different and a bit of a culture shock,It is not that clean of a country in Places but yet again so many other countries the same..found bars with music I hated and bars with music I loved some places your on your own and other places they will all talk to you….for me it is not my favorite country I have been too but it grew on me and I got used to the broken paths etc etc after few weeks i didnt take any notice!!…It has its ups and downs like all places in the world but I got to love it in summer,hate it in the winter haha!! bloody freezing!..the main thing is just to learn that the people can be just different in their approach to you then maybe you home place and just remember it is not personal and smile…that worked for me,my grumpy shop keeper even started to smile at me so..thats my story..Chow Chow!!

  55. Hello Nate,

    My name is Pieter and I’m from Belgium. At work, I deal with people from all over Europe, including from what a lot of us still refer to as “Eastern Europe.” Over time, I became acquainted with a Bulgarian woman who it turned out I share an interest in music with. This really surprised me because she grew up under the Communist Rule so I never would have thought she would know as much about rock and metal bands from the 80s as she does. Eventually, we decided I come visit with her and we’d go see two of our favorite bands at a Bulgarian rock festival together. As nice as she is and as excited as I was to go see the concerts (both bands mostly play small venues or afternoon shows at music festivals here, but are going to be headliners over there), I must confess I was a little worried about visiting a former Soviet State for the exact same reasons you mentioned in your blog. The only information I got about Eastern European countries growing up was through the Hollywood movies and shows of the 60s, 70s and the 80s and the picture western governments painted off that part of the world. So I started doing some research and one of the first pictures of Bulgaria I came across was of the Buzludzha monument covered in snow (maybe the same one that got you to pack up and take off to explore that country) and I was immediately fascinated by it for the same reasons you were. Eventually I came across your website and I just wanted to stop by and thank you for all of the beautiful pictures and the information you’ve posted. You’ve completely taken my worries away and now I’m very much looking forward to my visit there, so thank you so much for that!

    Keep on traveling and sharing beautiful bits of the world with us that we otherwise might not have got to go see for ourselves!

    Pieter

    1. Hey Pieter – thanks for a great comment. I love reading stories like that. And…. you’ll find that 80’s rock and metal is quite popular in Bulgaria (oh, the stories I could tell you with regards to that :)

      IN any case, have a great time, you’re going to really enjoy Bulgaria.

Comments are closed.