I have not been back to Bulgaria since the last Odysseia newsletter in June. I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms. Above all, I miss that spectacular scenery, fresh food and heart warming rakiya.Nazdrave!
However, my last visit did inspire me to take up golf. I started seriously in August and am just about to take the French ‘Carte Verte’ exam* which will allow me (hopefully!) to come back to Bulgaria and play properly at Pravets, as well as on most golf courses around the world. But I’m still a beginner and will probably be so for many years to come. But anyway, thank you again Bulgaria for the inspiration.
As in previous newsletters, I bring you some more tips, comments and facts for first-timers to help you discover the real Bulgaria……”
Meet another internationally famous BULGARIAN
Larger than life Bulgarian-born artist Christo lives in New York where he dreams up his fantastic creations. But he continues to work all over the world. You name it, Christo covers and wraps it up to create strong visual impacts…..landscapes, monuments, islands…
Two of the best known projects he undertook with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, when she was still alive, were the Gates in Central Park New York and the wrapping of the Reichstag building in Berlin www.christojeanneclaude.net
The Gates, Central Park, New York City Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin
More FOOD glorious fresh food
Banitsa is part of the Bulgarian psyche and a meal in itself which is eaten anywhere at any time of the day or night. It’s a traditional Bulgarian savoury dish made by layering a mixture of whisked eggs and pieces of white cheese between filo pastry, and then baking it in the oven. Delicious and very filling…just what you need in the fresh mountain air.
And talking of white cheese, as Bulgarians do constantly, don’t miss Chushki biurek (fried peppers stuffed with white cheese)
A land of amazing HERBS & SPICES
There are herbs for every medicinal purpose and condition – depression, anti-cancer, headaches, blood circulation & purification, diabetes….And as you walk in the mountains, there they are growing wild before your very eyes. But you’ll need an expert to guide you. Mixed together they make a wonderful free and soothing herbal tea.
Achillea Millefolium is a perennial flowering plant (with small white flowers) related to chamomile, and it has always been highly prized by traditional healers for its wide range of medicinal properties, particularly its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. It has been used to combat everything from infections and cuts, to digestive disorders and arthritis.
And ЧУБРЦА (chubritsa) is the spice Bulgarians take with them whenever they go abroad. They use it in everything; beans, lentils, stews, bread….
Welcome Mr. PRESIDENT
Bulgaria’s new President Elect is Rosen Plevneliev. He’s 47 and comes from the centre-right ruling party, GERB (Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria). He’s an ICT engineer and former entrepreneur who became Bulgaria’s Regional Development Minister in 2009. He managed the EU funds for infrastructure and saw through several successful large-scale projects. He is married with three children.
Rosen Plevneliev is a results-oriented politician (Yes, Bulgaria can!) who takes up his new office on 23 January. Both Bulgaria and Europe are expecting great things from the President in his continued fight to improve the country’s image and stamp out corruption.
|Bulgarian Prime Minister Mr. Borisov (in the middle) accompanying the newly elected President Mr. Plevneliev and his vice Mrs. Popova||The new Bulgarian President – Mr. Plevneliev (on the left)celebrating his victory in the 2011 presidential elections over the socialist candidate (on the right)|
Cartoons by Chavdar Nikolov
It’s not like rural France where you often can’t find any lunch after 13.30. Restaurants in Bulgaria are normally open 11.00-24.00 and you always seem be able to get a meal, however late in the afternoon or evening. As long as there are customers, they’ll never say it’s closed.
There are open fires everywhere which gives real atmosphere in winter and makes even empty restaurants psychologically warm. Mehana is the word for a more informal tavern and han/hanche is an inn. They also serve food.
SKI-ING up mountains….you don’t have to be completely mad, but it helps
Well you don’t exactly ski upwards, but you do climb with skis on. Ski mountaineering is not for the faint-hearted. It’s for masochists and the very fit, who are also experienced skiers. Coming down again off-piste makes it all worth it in the end…
As the father of modern skiing, Sir Arnold Lunn (1888-1974) once said, “the combination of skiing and mountaineering is the finest of all sports”. Mind you, he was slightly biased.
WHAT others say
“Bulgaria is a must visit destination…”
“Despite the soaring popularity of its seaside resorts, Bulgaria remains a little-known destination with a great deal to discover: much of the country is like an open-air museum of Balkan culture, with beautifully decorated churches, fine mosques, wonderfully preserved rustic villages and a great deal of enduring folklore.”
“For walkers & naturalists Bulgaria is a paradise with an amazing variety of landscapes and a rich biodiversity.”
Cicerone Guide to Walking in Bulgaria’s National Parks
by Bruce Taylor, Brussels-based travel journalist