Bulgaria: The Country of Oily Meals

Bulgaria: The Country of Oily Meals

After spending winter in rainy Manchester and spring in beautiful Edinburgh, I decided to spend the summer at the seaside. I flew to the country where the Cyrillic was born, Bulgaria. For a few weeks I lived in the mountains close to Sofia and then I moved to Plovdiv. The first plan was to end up at the Black Sea but I didn´t. My summer was at the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey but that´s another story.

Bulgarian Cuisine and Coffee Vending Machines on the Streets

I tried Bulgarian cuisine already in Malta. With Linda, we visited the Bulgarian restaurant The Brothers. We had Shopska Salata and Meat on a Sword. Seriously, they brought us meat spitted on a big knife.

After sightseeing Sofia I asked the tour guide, what kind of meal should I try and he said tarator. I had no idea what it was but I found out very quickly that it´s served mostly during the daily menu and today was Saturday. Luckily I found the place where it´s served even on Saturday and I got a very strange combination of a cold soup with oil, yogurt, dill, cucumber, and garlic. I drank Bulgarian wine with it.

I was the most amazed by how much oil they use in Bulgarian cuisine. As an example let me introduce you to Bulgarian Benedict. It is a poached egg dipped in a gravy made of oil, yogurt, garlic, and feta cheese. It doesn´t taste bad but it´s a really weird combination.

I haven´t tried their traditional pastry banovice because I didn´t like the taste of Bulgarian cheese that much. However, a little bit against my will, I tried the meatballs kufteta. If you eat it with beer, it tastes better. Okay, just kidding, but the fact is, they were dry.

Talking about alcohol, you should try plum rakija or already mentioned beer like Ariana. During my waiting on a bus to Plovdiv I asked for a beer at the station and got something like a Coors Light called Kamenica here.

In the end, I will mention one curiosity I noticed in Plovdiv. They have coffee vending machines on the streets. It is very common that people walking to their work to stop by and get an instant coffee here.

The Capital City Sofia

Lately, I realized that I would prefer going to nature than cities. I would rather go back to the rainforest, sleep in a tent, and bathe in the river than walk through the city streets. I guess the reason why is, that I´m adventurous and the city is just boring for me. On the other side, I believe that every city has something unique, its culture and history and that´s the reason why I always search for free walking tours. By the way, we have them in Bratislava as well, and personally, they never disappointed me yet.

So, let me tell you a few interesting things about Sofia. The name Sofia comes from the Greek goddess. However, the city´s symbol is… the Christian Sofia. It doesn´t make sense to you either. Well, the architect who had a free hand while creating the city symbol obviously messed up the origin of this Sofia. And his most creative idea was to become St. Sofia as a symbol of the city.

Problems with personal hygiene have city solved pretty effectively. It was not common to have a bathroom in the apartment so the hygiene level was pretty low. So they decided to build a public bath in a place where the hot springs rise. Don´t tell me you wouldn´t go there once a week to chitchat with your friends. 15 years ago this building has been renovated but despite the hot springs still, there, they turned it into a museum. Such a shame…

Another creative organization actually ruling here was the communists. I guess their most interesting idea was to destroy a church from the Roman Empire and build here a parking garage here instead. Surprisingly this idea has never become reality and so they decided to build a block of buildings around the church to at least hide it.

Plovdiv: The City of Seven Hills

I spent only a weekend in Plovdiv but during one day unintentionally hiked on three of these hills. And despite I thought I was gonna die, it really worth it.

The nicest thing I saw here was the Statue of Milyo the Crazy. Milyo was a women´s love and women loved him. There are two rumors about why was that so. The first one says that he was a great listener and the second one says that he had a big penis. I guess, we will never know which one was the truth but it is said that if you whisper into his ear, it will come true. And if you pet his thigh, you will have sex.

I recommend stopping in the Kapana neighborhood in the evening. It is a place with many bars but makes sure you have a reservation because otherwise, you might not find a spot. If there´s a social life, it is concentrated here. I really enjoyed the small colorful light bulbs hanging around the whole neighborhood. They are connected to the local maternity clinic and every time a baby is born, they slowly start blinking. And everyone cheers to the new life.

The best street food you will get is in Yogi FastFood. There is a queue all day long but their kebap with french fries wrapped in a tortilla was the best I have had in a while.

Now, let me tell you two more interesting facts about the city. You already know that communists ruled in Bulgaria as well. In the gallery, you can find a mosaic that seemed to be too sexual to them. You can see there a laying man. Back in the days there was a laying woman under him but they rebuilt it and now there is some kind of sun rays.

And one curiosity. The biggest community of the Balkan Gypsies live in the neighborhood of Stolipinovo. About 40 000 of them live there which is about the population of the whole Zvolen in Slovakia. 90% of them are Muslim, talk Turkish, and claim they are from Turkey.

Bulgaria is a country whose national animal is the lion despite no lions living here. You will find a here an amazing amount of monasteries and I recommend going on a trip to Monastery Rila close to Sofia. Bulgarians smoke a lot, are always late, and say merci instead of thanking you. In the building of the Presidential Palace is a hotel and casino and Bulgarian coins look similar to euros. That´s why I was surprised that the ticket vendor didn´t work for me. I forgot they don´t have euros.

Let me give you one more recommendation at the end. If you´re buying a bus ticket from Plovdiv to Sofia, read carefully about where it departure from. At first, I thought I was going on by train but then at the rain station I found that there was no train going to Sofia at that particular time. Then I found out that I was supposed to take a bus instead, so I rushed to the bus station. At the bus station no one knew about my bus and then turned out that there are two bus stations in Plovdiv under the same name: one was on the South was I was and the other one was in the North where I was supposed to be. I arrived there one minute before departure… Merci and čau!