Bulgaria – the Beautiful
Bulgaria is a beautiful country. I was born there and all my ancestors came from there. I live in the United States now but Bulgaria is part of me. I have an accent that resembles Russian but the pronunciation is a bit harder. We are part of the Slavic nations (Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic and Poland). We were part of the Eastern communist bloc.
Bulgarians are proud of many things. We make and love wine. We have our own drink, it’s called Rakia and it’s like the Slivovitz or the Italian Grappa. We have roses and beautiful nature. You look up and there are big mountains, you look to the East and there is the Black Sea, you look down and you will see valleys. It’s a beautiful country that makes you fall in love with nature. We have seasons- colors of fall, ski slopes and golden beaches.
We have history. The earliest human remains were discovered and are from 44,000 BC. After 3,000 BC, the Thracians appeared. Let me translate… remember the movie Spartacus? About the handsome slave that fought the Romans- oh well, he came from our land, he was Thracian. In 632 the Bulgaria state was formed. That makes Bulgaria at least 1380 years old! There is a saying in Bulgaria- wherever you start digging- you will find history. It’s true, there are layers of Thracian, Roman and more modern artifacts buried in the ground. It’s good to be an archeologist in Bulgaria- you have job security.
We were 500 years under Turkish slavery. We didn’t lose our culture or language. So you may say Bulgarians persevere. We are stubborn too.
Let’s talk about the people. I have to warn you- Bulgarians say no shaking their head back and forward and say yes shaking their head from left to right. Bulgarians stare at you. It’s like a staring competition. I’ll never forget the moment I arrived at LAX (I was never abroad before coming here). I looked at people and they smiled at me the moment they saw me. It was exciting. It’s not the same in Bulgaria- there you can stare at each other for hours and nobody smiles.
Bulgarians dress to the best of their pocket. Women there spare no effort to look good (especially young and single women). They put make-up just to go throw the trash. Imagine my Mom when she came to US and we were at Rite Aid – we see this young girl in her PJs and flip flops. It’s quite a shock if you compare with the high heels and miniskirts of the women in Bulgaria that go to buy tooth paste.
Bulgarians work hard. It’s poor nation but we work hard. Bulgarians party hard too. You should see the bars, the restaurants and the clubs. It’s part of life to go out and eat out. The restaurants in Bulgaria is the place I miss the most when I’m in US. The food is delicious, healthy and beautiful. Your mouth will water just by looking at it. You senses will be challenged from the moment you smell the food. Your body will be thankful after you eat because it’s all natural- lots of veggies and great meat. The menu in a Bulgarian Restaurant is as big as a book. It’s designed for people that go out every night and want something different every day. The atmosphere in a Bulgarian restaurant is something you probably haven’t experienced. Nobody pushes you to hurry up. People spend hours on a salad and a glass of Rakia. Every hole in the wall there serves good delicious food but most of them look special too. It’s an art.
There is something more- the price to eat out in Bulgaria is still so cheap, it will make you happy to get the bill. It’s not so cheap if you are getting a Bulgarian salary but for us, visiting, it’s a blessing. You go to a restaurant, 8 people eat and drink all night long, there is live music and people performing… Think about how much it will cost you here! It will probably be around $50. That’s why after each vacation to Bulgaria, I come back and go less and less to restaurants in the US. I think I’m at level 0 now- I go only if I really need to.
I have a Bulgarian babysitter. And she is a typical Bulgarian Grandma. Women in Bulgaria age with complete understanding they are Grandmas now. They stop thinking about themselves and they become completely dedicated to their children and grandchildren. They cook. Oh my, we never ask my babysitter to cook for us but she puts her heart into preparing meals. Healthy, delicious mouthwatering meals. I cook too and even my Dutch husband cooks Bulgarian food.
Most of the Bulgarians are Eastern Orthodox Christians. It’s really a tradition, more than a religion.
We take pride that the bacteria that makes the yogurt came from Bulgaria- it’s called bugaricus.
If you decide to visit Bulgaria, you have to be prepared- it’s a land of beautiful nature, highly educated population but a lot of misfortune. Some roads have holes that will fit your car (say SUV size). GPS doesn’t have all the maps right. My best advice is befriend a Bulgarian. If you have a guide when visiting, you may have the best time of your life.
People in Bulgaria love foreigners visiting. There is crime but most of the time there is hospitality and desire to please you. There are these ugly communist style buildings but there is old architecture too that can take your breath away. There are gipsy villages that look like a third world country but there are these luxurious resorts to make your eyes pop. It’s a land of so much. Almost 1,400 years of history, pride and perseverance.