Bulgaria the second time

Trip Start Oct 10, 2005
1
8
16
Trip End May 24, 2006


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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Thursday, February 9, 2006

I flew into Bulgaria to see Natalia, Irina, Marto, and Troyan, who I all know from working in Alaska. I went skiing in Bansko and it was really cool...


here's what i wrote while i was there:




fast food and vegetables



other than a random dirty taco stand I know in southern california, bulgaria has the best food in the world (better than french food sometimes). and there's generally a rule: the more expensive it is, the worse it is. so when in bulgaria, go cheap, and don't spend your nickel all in one place. oh and you ever wanted a hot sandwich with lots of meat and mayonnaise and corn salad and then put more mayonaisse on top and pay just 50 cents for it, go to a bulgarian fast food place. there's tons of them. you need all that fat to absorb the Rakia and vodka.



oh and bulgarian vegetables are the best I've ever tasted. I think it's all the garbage that they leave in their fields. they still expect the communist government to come pick it up for them.



they sure know how to drink



you have to try rakia. it's made from either grapes or plums and is basically homemade schnapps. you don't drink it in shots. you drink it at the table with family, with a plate of pickled vegetables in the middle of the table that everyone picks it off of. go to a student party in the middle of the night in a desolate block in Student's Town in Sofia and you'll probably have some hard liquor with salami and cheese. oh and they'll throw fireworks out the window so all the small town americans think they're in Baghdad or Kosovo for just a minute and dive beneath the bed.



gypsies and horses



in Sotirya, this little village at the foot of the Stara Planina (Old Mountains) in eastern bulgaria, for the first time in my life I saw people who actually ride horses around because they have no cars and no public transport. imagine a dark-skinned, maybe turkish looking 8 year old kid riding 40 miles an hour down a potholed dirty road in Bulgaria and look up on the hill towards the gypsies' houses to see them surrounded by trash and huge fires probably burning the trash to keep warm. what a weird place!



worse than L.A.



bulgaria is the only place I have ever been where the smog is worse than L.A.. it's disgusting. but the food's good!



chalga



any bulgarian who has any self-respect hates chalga music because it's what the white trash listen to. on my first day in bulgaria a friend explained to me that the lyrics are all about love triangles

I happen to like Chalga music because the singers always have big boobies and sing in really Eastern modes that you can never hear in the U.S. it's really cool music, like a cross between pop and eastern folk music.



Then as time went by and my ear started to tune in a little better to the bulgarian language, I heard the lyrics myself:



"I hate you because you love her but I love you." "Here there here there, I'll give it to you."



It's kind of the bulgarian equiv. of dirty hip hop. So sure it's trashy but I dig it.





the united states of England



Bulgaria is now a colony of Britain, and the ski resort Bansko is the capital. now that all of Brighton has arrived in Bulgaria to buy real estate, listen to cheesy touristy songs in the mexani (taverns), and to ski,



the prices are now twice as high, the food half as good, and the locals are twice as nice to you if you try to speak to them in Bulgarian rather than in the queen's english. Obicham bulgarskiat ezik.



the lucky fulbrighter



in one formerly charming 150 year old mexana (tavern and inn) in Bansko, the Dedo Pene Inn I saw this very american looking blond blue eyed girl speaking bulgarian with the owner of the hotel. I said "where did you learn bulgarian?" and she said she had been in bulgaria for four months. bulgarian's not easy to learn since there's no good dictionaries, and no good textbooks. you literally have to be in bulgaria or with a bulgarian to learn it.



so it turns out that this girl (Sasha) is in Bulgaria for an entire year on a Fulbright scholarship (lucky dog) to study ecotourism and economic development in Bulgaria. she's now a ski instructor at Bansko ski resort (4,500 vertical feet, bigger than the biggest in the U.S.) though by the sounds of it her main qualification to be a ski instructor was that she spoke English



now she is constantly trying to keep her image clear of being a shpoinka (spy), seeing as she just kind of wanders around bulgaria, asking everybody lots of questions about who owns what, especially in areas like Bansko where gangsters pretty much supplied the money to start the ski resort development a few years ago and developing right on protected national park lands glad it's her asking the questions and not me I'll just sip my rakia quietly in the corner.



skiing in bulgaria



the mountains are really big and beautiful in bulgaria. and the ski runs at bansko are really long. I like skiing in bulgaria.



the DBLers



the reason I am in Bulgaria is that while working in Alaska at Denali Backcountry Lodge there were a bunch of bulgarians and they are all darkish-haired, long-nosed and terribly hedonistic. I admire that. so Troyan, Irina, Natalia, and Marto, here's to you.
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