After being accepted into the EU in 2007, we’re finally able to use those little plastic ID’s, also known as lichna karta, to go wherever we please. Spain, Sweden, Malta, you name it — we can hop on a plane and go, without having to deal with a painstaking visa application process. I see you, Barcelona!
Our culture is truly felt through the stomach, so we have so much to be thankful when Christmas rolls around. Chushki byurek, baklava, sarmi, broiled lamb, roasted fish, banitsa, tikvenik, roll us over and put a fork in us, we’re done. And take this is as a special shout out to mama and baba who prepared your entire meal while dad and grandpa were watching Lukoil Akademik kick Loko Plovdiv’s butt 3:0.
You’d be crazy not to enjoy a splash in the town’s invigorating, ice-cold river in the dead of winter, diving while shoving the neighborhood boys out of the way, fighting for a wooden cross, blessed by the local church no one really goes to. Well, the cross is said to bring some good luck and this whole ordeal is the ultimate display of masculinity.
My grandma is always beyond ecstatic and bursting with pride if the potatoes and onions on her dinner table came from the little patch of land she walks 5 kilometers to tend every day at Zelin. She also makes her own rakiya and lyutenitsa and is planning to take a stab at wine next year. We are agricultural people at our core and a good season of harvest always brings us great joy.
Bulgarians have this weird obsession with babies. Any time a new creature pops out of a woman, there are at least four neighbor aunties who have already knitted out three different sweaters for each gender, presenting offerings of drunkalki, biberoni and stuffed animals. There is something so damn cute about these little people and we’ll give you PLENTY of advice on what they should eat, wear, study and do when they grow up.
If you look at the changes to Bulgarian society over the past 20 years, you’ll see that a lot of young people are leaving to study and live abroad — simply because we’ll have opportunities for promotions and bigger salaries (also, less bureaucracy). Bulgarian moms, being their typical loving, mettling selves, LOVE to know what we’re up to 24/7. Now they can just stick a laptop at the dinner table and Skype with us while we all eat, even if we’re still stuck at an airport in France on our way home for New Year’s.
Bulgarians are always able to recognize that the holidays are truly the perfect time to bring everyone together and catch up. I still remember going over from Botevgrad to Kyustendil with my parents, where a dozen aunts, uncles and cousins from Dupnitsa met us for a solid, three-day feast with copious amounts of wine, pogacha, skara and mezeta.
Bulgaria is no exception in this worldwide unemployment trend. It’s very hard to find a job in your field here, especially if you just got out of college, so we’re always happy to have a steady source of income regardless of whether we’re chasing our dreams to be engineers or working at the Mtel office around the corner.
Though college takes the standard four years to complete, we’re in no rush whatsoever. As long as we maintain our student status, we can rent a room for a few hundred dollars a year in Sofia’s Studentski Grad, which occupies a central position in the city, close to the vibrant club and bar scene and all the trendy happenings we don’t want to miss.
Not that we don’t love studying in our own bustling Sofia or sunny Varna, but Bulgarians are always hungry for foreign cultural exploration. Being in the European Union allows us to study in all of Europe for free, plus Denmark, Holland, Scotland and a few others. Try to beat that, USA!
We could care less what the Turks or the Greeks say about this juicy, heaven-sent dessert, oozing with syrup, with a crunchy, yet soft body that melts into your mouth. They may claim ownership over the recipe but we’ve got our own version and it is damn good. (We add walnuts when we’re feeling feisty.)
There is the typical courthouse-followed-by-dinner wedding, and then there’s the three-day monster wedding where 100+ relatives gather for an elaborate party. First, the crew, followed by a live band with trumpets, clarinets and gaydato, picks up the groom, eats meze at his house and dances horo. Next up is the the bride — where orveuvres and rakiya galore and more horo is performed. The pattern repeats until everyone of note is picked up, from the parents to the great aunt Pena, who’s in town just for the big event. Due to the copious amounts of alcohol, Boryano, Boryanke and skara, guests hardly remember the actual ceremony but that’s ok, because there is a videographer capturing the entire parade 24/7, of course.
The Irish have pubs. Americans have dive bars. We have our beloved obscure, warm, cave-like mehana, where we can gladly disappear for 8 hours at a time with friends, family or colleagues to feast on cheverme, shopska salata and wine.
Come December and Bulgaria turns into a winter wonderland. Pamporovo is the place to be all winter, regardless of whether you’re hitting the pristine slopes or if you, like me, prefer to cuddle up by the hija’s fireplace with a glass of scotch in a hand-knit sweater baba gave you for Christmas.
Travel is expensive. There’s no getting away from it. Even if you do it cheaply. And in a world where airlines are even suggesting charging for the toilets, is it still possible to cut corners and costs? Yes! We have spent our lives managing and enjoying family travel on a budget. Here’s a few of our tips for how a family can travel for less…
Family travel on a budget? It’s all in the planning
I hope that these facts about Bulgaria were not just fun to read, but you also learned a valuable lesson in history, geography, and culture. And if the list has sparked your curiosity to pack your bags and visit our country, go check the other posts about Bulgaria!
Have in mind, that I’ve skipped many historical and cultural specifics and narrowed the list down to only the most fascinating facts, which make Bulgaria a unique travel destination.
Which fact about Bulgaria amazed you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Did I miss any important people or facts about Bulgaria? Let me know what you think!
Do you know what the best way to immediately enhance your travel experience is?
Talking to the people you meet on the road!
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Christmas is the time for connecting with family near and far, and these Merry Christmas wishes will help you spread the Christmas cheer this holiday season.
May the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love and your life with laughter. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2022 .
May the Christmas Season bring only happiness and joy to you and your adorable family. We miss you and hope to see you in 2022 .
In this loveliest of seasons may you find many reasons for happiness. Merry Christmas and lots of love from our family to yours!
May the good times and treasures of the present become the golden memories of tomorrow for your lovely family, just as our childhood memories of Holidays past are such happy recollections now. Wishing you lots of love, joy and happiness. Merry Christmas!
May your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill. And may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy. Have a Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2022 .
They say the best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas surrounded by your precious family, and many blessings for the coming year.
Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always.
Whatever is beautiful. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you happiness. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
To a joyful present and a well remembered past! We raise a glass to you this Christmas all the way from [insert your location]. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a magnificent New Year.
May the holiday season end the present year on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright New Year. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
There's nothing like a well-lit Christmas tree to remind me of all the fun we had together as children. Wishing you a holiday season as full of wonder as when we were young! Merry Christmas.
You always made Christmas a special time for me. Now, I hope you can feel my love and gratitude from far away. Sending you my warmest wishes and blessings.
May the miracle of Christmas bring you joy and happiness. I wish you contentment and peace among you and your family. With Love, [your name]
We're so grateful that you could be here to celebrate the holidays with us and share in our good cheer! May our hopeful wishes follow you home and warm you through the New Year.
Now that the kids are out of the house, you can rest easy for Christmas! Wishing you a relaxing and stress free holiday.
A health worker prays as a Catholic priest blesses the COVID-19 swab test area of a hospital in Manila, Philippines, on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Aaron Favila, Associated Press
In a year marked by stress, fear, anger and division for many across the nation, the holiday season from now until the new year seems poised to offer respite from all the negativity. We’re grateful that season begins this week with a holiday dedicated to gratitude.
Research has shown that expressing thanks and focusing on finding the small silver linings among all that may be going wrong is beneficial to one’s health and can enhance one’s overall quality of life.
According to the National Institutes of Health, gratitude can also help individuals better cope with stress in their daily lives. Studies from the National Alliance on Mental Illness have also shown that practicing gratitude can lower your risks for mental health issues. And per the American Heart Association, practicing gratitude can improve your immune system.
So as we approach Thanksgiving, let’s begin with gratitude and reflect on ways to be thankful despite a pandemic. Here are 14 lessons we have taken away from the global health crisis that remind us to be grateful:
When you start packing for your trip to Bulgaria, there are a few things that you have to consider.
If Bulgaria is just a stop on your Euro- or Balkan trip, you don’t need to pack anything different or special. Good to know is that Bulgaria uses types C, E and F sockets/plugs so if you are coming from overseas you will need an adapter and/or converter. The standard voltage in the country is 230 V, so if your electric appliance are in the range of 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa), you’ll be fine. However, if you are coming from a country where the standard is 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you will need a converter. The best is to get one of those universal adapter gadgets.
One of the perks to travel in Europe is that there are no roaming costs in all EU-member states, which means that you can buy a SIM card in any European country and use it in the rest. If you are from an EU-member state you don’t need to do anything.
Bulgaria has one of the fastest wifis in Europe and a lot of places (hotels, restaurants, cafés) offer free wifi access. In the big cities there are also a lot of hotspots.
When I travel, I always buy beforehand a travel guide for the country I will be visiting. I can’t stress enough on the fact how important and essential this is.
Here are my picks for you: