BULGARIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geography


Geographically Bulgaria is located in the south-eastern corner of Europe. This region, steeped in history is known as the Balkans. Bulgaria is at the north-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsular. The country is 350 miles long, 250 miles wide and is the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It is about the same size of England but with only 8m people a fraction of it's population.

Bulgaria is mixture of fertile farms and vineyards and high wooded mountain ranges. There are a rich variety of landscapes and wildlife, with many old villages and towns of unique architectural heritage. With it's accession to the EU the infrastructure is being rapidly modernised. With very low traffic density travel is relaxed with out the stress of jams and delays. Bulgaria's sea coast is very beautiful and it is justly proud of its European Blue Riband beaches.

 

 

 

 

 

Geography
Climate
Ecology
Leisure activities
Cuisine
Wine
History
Law
Statistics
Cost of living Getting there Essential information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate


The climate is continental with long hot summers and variable winters. The summer temperature is around 28/82. April and October are unsettled but can be fine. Occasionally early November can be extremely pleasant with no wind and temperatures around 70/21. On the Black Sea coast winter temperatures are seldom below zero due to the warming influence of the sea. However there are icy blasts from Russia that can send the mercury plunging to well below zero. Inland Bulgaria experiences typical cold continental winters and has excellent ski resorts which have snow from December to April. Checkout the weather :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/
http://weather.digsys.bg/

Ecology

 

Bulgaria is a continent in miniature with alpine lakes and sunny beaches, and subtropical rivers influenced by both the Balkan and Mediterranean ecosystems. Bulgaria has an abundance natural spas with curative properties. There are many nature reserves close to the coast with rare plants and animals; forests constitute 28 % of the territory. The most isolated area of Bulgaria is the Strandzha mountains in the extreme southeast next to the Turkish boarder. Wild life is abundant with deer, elk and wolves. Bulgaria is a bird watchers paradise.

Leisure Activities

 

There are all the usual water sports at established resorts but at a fraction of Mediterranean prices. Few are aware of the potential for activities such as hiking, mountain biking, climbing and caving. Wind surfing is probably the best in Europe as is the undiscovered divers paradise.

http://www.archangeldiving.com/
Bulgaria's first golf course opened a couple of years ago in a small town, Ihtiman, 45 kilometres east of the capital Sofia. It is well designed and golf clubs can be hired from the pro's shop. The pro is a Sri Lankan and obviously speaks excellent English.
There are six or seven clubs in development with new one due to open at in Kebleshkevo, the Pirin mountains, Primorsko and other locations. For more information see golfbg.com, official site of the fledgling BGA.
Horse riding is excellent and there are riding schools for the beginner and much more for the more experienced.

http://www.golfbg.com/

Cuisine

 

Bulgarian cuisine is tasty, spicy and varied. The country has an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits. Meat is usually grilled and served with piquant sauces. Unusually there are mouth-watering vegetarian dishes such as banitsa (cheese pie) simmered slowly on low heat which simply melts in your mouth. There are numerous delicious specialties. Bansko-style kapama (meat and vegetable stew), Rhodope cheverme (spit roasted lamb roasted), Thracian katmi (a special type of pancake) and Dobroudjanska banitsa, Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels. Shopska salad and chilled Rakia spirit, stuffed vine leaves or peppers, kavarma the Miller's Way, monastery-style hotchpotch, moussaka and kebab. Not to be missed is thinly sliced loukanka (flat dry sausage) from Smyadovo, pastarma, feta and yellow cheese. To round the meal off there is excellent coffee served with sweet jam, pancakes with honey and walnuts or baklava and locally distilled Brandy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine

 

Britain has imported Bulgarian wine for many years and so could be said to be familiar with the product. The following info should demonstrate how little has filtered through to the UK. Bulgaria is the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world, second only to France. Additionally it has four times the area of Cabernet Sauvignon than California.

Major regions and wineries:
Rousse Region
Rousse Winery

Thracian Valley Region
Crimson Hill Winery

Stara Zagora Region
Domaine Boyar

Jambol Region
Domaine Boyar

Vidin Region
Novoselska Gamza Winery

St.Biala Region
Rousse Winery

Pomorie Region
Domaine Boyar

Oriahovitza Region
Menada Winery

Suhindol Region
Lovico Winery

Melnik Region
Damjanitza Winery

Bozoukov Winery
Bozoukov

Vidin Region
MaguraWinery

Plovdiv Region
Domaine Boyar

Targovischte Region
Domaine Boyar

Danube Valley Region
Crimson Hill Winery

Petritch Region
Damjanitza Winery

Haskovo Region
Haskovo Winery

Local grapes include:
· Gamza - the most widespread sort produces earthy, light bodied red wine for every day drinking.
· Mavrud - is a full bodied, spicy red that can age to more than 10 years.
· Melnik - grown in the south and can mature into a full bodied red wine.
· Pamid - best described as a country wine, a vin de paye for daily drinking.
Whites were previously the poor relation. Now Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling as well local varieties Misket, Ottonel, and Dimiat are now every bit as good as the reds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BULGARIAN HISTORY

 


Remains dating from the Old Stone Age have been found in the caves of the Stara Planina. Settled by Thracian tribes the country was colonised in the sixth century BC by the Greeks. Along the Black Sea coast trading centres were established; Odessos ( Varna), Apollonia (Sozopol), and Mesembria (Nessebur). The Thracian State was eventually conquered first by Philip of Macedon.

The Roman emperor Trajan conquered Thracia, in the 1st century AD. The history of the conquest is recorded on Trajan's column in Rome. Owing to their fine fighting qualities, many Thracian slaves took part in Roman spectacles as gladiators. Spartacus, the leader of the Slaves' Revolt, was himself born within the borders of present-day Bulgaria. Bulgaria has inherited some fine Roman ruins most notable in Plodiv. As the Roman Empire was divided, in 395, Bulgaria remained within the boundaries of the Eastern Byzantine Empire until the 5th century.

The First Kingdom

With the defeat of Byzantium in 681 the first Bulgarian State was born and together with the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire, was one of only three states in Europe. This was accomplished by the uniting of the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians in the common cause of independence. Bulgaria flourished and by the 10th century territorial expansion pushed the borders to Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire and to the walls of Constantinople. Bulgarian territory extended from the Black Sea in the east, the Aegean in the south and the Adriatic in the west.

This was Bulgaria's golden age, the time of the "three seas". Prince Boris converted the Bulgarians to Christianity preferring the Eastern rite to Roman one. The brothers Cyril and Methodius introduced Slavonic script. Bulgaria became one of the most powerful states in Europe. However internal divisions began to weaken the power of the state. This was the result of religious strife which eventually spread and later influenced the heresies of the Cathars and Albigensiens.

Finally, in the 11th century, Bulgaria was defeated on the battlefield and the re-establishment of Byzantine rule was imposed. The Bulgarian state ceased to exist until the 12th century when liberation movements began to break the Byzantine grip on the company.

The Second Kingdom

In 1187 the second kingdom began with it's capital in Turnovo. Once again internal division culminating in the peasant's uprising caused loss of territory and period of decline. Gradually this was reversed and Bulgaria flourished. In the capital, Turnovo, schools of literature and art blossomed and brought about the renaissance of Bulgarian culture.

Turkish Rule

In the end Turkish rule, which became corrupt and backward, made life impossible for ordinary Bulgarians. By the 18th century the Bulgarians, with little to lose and some external prompting, began to re-assert themselves culminating in the National Revival. Bulgarian culture and national values re-emerged and the liberation movement was formed. In crushing "The April Uprising" in 1876 Turkey brought things to a head. France and Britain were outraged. William Gladstone published a pamphlet "The Bulgarian Horrors" condemning the atrocities inflicted by the Turks on their Bulgarian subjects. This first brought awareness to the British public of the state of affairs within Bulgaria and created considerable anti Turkish feeling. Britain and France made vigorous representations to the Turks. The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878, finally put an end to Turkish rule and after 5 centuries Bulgaria was liberated.

The National Revival

In the end Turkish rule, which became corrupt and backward, made life impossible for ordinary Bulgarians. By the 18th century the Bulgarians, with little to lose and some external prompting, began to re-assert themselves culminating in the National Revival. Bulgarian culture and national values re-emerged and the liberation movement was formed. In crushing "The April Uprising" in 1876 Turkey brought things to a head. France and Britain were outraged. William Gladstone published a pamphlet "The Bulgarian Horrors" condemning the atrocities inflicted by the Turks on their Bulgarian subjects. This first brought awareness to the British public of the state of affairs within Bulgaria and created considerable anti Turkish feeling. Britain and France made vigorous representations to the Turks. The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878, finally put an end to Turkish rule and after 5 centuries Bulgaria was liberated.

The Third Kingdom

Liberation however did not restore Bulgaria to its former glory. The Western Powers, unhappy with the prospect of a strong unified Bulgarian state, opened a conference, the Congress of Berlin, on June 13 1878, under the chairmanship of Bismarck. With Disraeli's backing, and without regard for the aspirations and sacrifices of her people, Bulgaria was brutally dismembered. For it's part in this cruel deal Britain gained Cyprus from Turkey.

A much-reduced state emerged and was finally ruled by Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Bulgaria was victorious in the Balkan War against Turkey but chose the wrong side in World War I. The result was a national catastrophe.

The inter-war years brought political turmoil resulting in the 1923 uprising by the Communist Party. Stability returned and the country prospered. With the advent of World War 2 circumstances forced Bulgaria to join the wrong side again.

The People's Republic

By 1944 it was apparent the Axis would be defeated. A new government headed by Kimon Georgiev replaced the existing power. However Bulgaria's future had already been decided by Churchill and Stalin and with the presence of the Soviet Army in the country, Bulgaria's fate was sealed. The resulting forty odd years of communism made a potentially rich country very poor.

Today Democracy

Communism has gone but its legacy remains. For the last 13 years Bulgaria has suffered the worst of all worlds. As with many post communist states, the communist way of doing things has become inextricable entangled with the Bulgarian way of doing things and there are few people left who can remember the difference. The result is a country struggling to implement free market capitalism but shackled by a post communist bureaucracy. Membership of the EU is making life much more plesant for the ordinary Bulgarian.

 

 
 
BULGARIAN STATISTICS

 

Area: 111,000 sq. km
Population: 8million
Capital: Sofia
Official Language: Bulgarian (Cyrillic Script)
Official Religion: Bulgarian Orthodox, minority Catholic, Muslim and Armenian
Larger cities: Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Rousse
Currency: 1 Lev = 100 stotinki (pegged to the Euro)
Country code: +359.
Mobile operators: M-Tel and GloBul

 

THE COST OF LIVING

The cost of living is one of the lowest in Eastern Europe. Average salaries are around £300/month. Although consumer durables with recognisable brand names such as Whirlpool, Bosch etc., are price comparable with the UK, locally produced products are considerably cheaper. Food on the other hand is very cheap and of good quality. Bulgarian dairy products are generally superior to anything produced in Western Europe. Bulgarian yoghurt is, like Carlsberg, probably, the best in the world.

Most vegetables are grown locally including tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers and a wide variety of familiar green vegetables. Fruit is abundant with many local varieties of apples, pears, peaches, plums and grapes.

The Black sea has a rich and varied source of fish. The range includes tiny whitebait size fish, (tsatsa), to largeTurbot, (calcan), Shark and other species specific to the Black Sea. All are caught daily and are fresh from the small fishing villages or from supermarkets. In the larger supermarkets fish from the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Red Sea are readily available.

Bulgarians prefer pork or lamb. However there is a plentiful supply of beef, chicken and other meat.


From Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (NSI).

Conversion1 kg ~ 2.2 lb
http://www.nsi.bg/
All prices in £ Stg
Flour kg 0.39
Bread Loaf 0.46
Rice kg 0.25
Pasta kg 1.40
Sugar kg 0.62
Sweets kg 1.03
Chocolate kg 2.65
Honey kg 1.40
Coffee kg 3.80
Tea kg 4.45
Salt kg 0.10
Vinegar litre 0.30

Meat
Pork kg 3.07
Lamb kg 3.46
Mince kg 1.40
Beef Sirlion kg 5.25
Chicken kg 1.50
Sausages kg 1.25
English bacon kg 2.34
Salami kg 1.10

Fish kg 2.00

Dairy Products
Milk litre 0.35
Yoghurt kg 0.23
Cheese kg 1.54
Yellow Cheese kg 3.46
Eggs dozen 0.42
Butter kg 2.00

Fruit
Apples kg 0.35
Pears kg 0.45
Plums kg 0.15
Cherries kg 0.50
Peaches, Apricot kg 0.30
Strawberries kg 0.55
Grapes kg 0.25
Lemons kg 0.50
Watermelon kg 0.15
Kernels kg 1.35
Jams jar 0.25
Fruit Juices litre 0.50

Vegetables
Mushrooms kg 1.07
Potatoes kg 0.20
Tomatoes kg 0.30
Cucumbers kg 0.35
Cabbage kg 0.10
Peppers kg 0.30
Onions kg 0.20
Garlic kg 0.75
Olives kg 1.20
Haricot Beans kg 0.80
Lentils kg 0.60

Canned vegetables
Canned vegetables kg 0.75
Vegetable Juices litre 0.55
Pickled Vegetables kg 0.55

Soft Drinks
Soft Drinks litre 0.20
Mineral Water litre 0.10

Alcohol
Beer litre 0.39
Wine bottle 1.20
Vintage bottle 3.00


Consumer Durables
Refrigerators 130.00
Freezers 125.00
Washing Machine 145.00
Food processor 25.00
Vacuum-cleaner 35.00
TV Set 120.00
VCR 65.00
Stereo 15.00
Water Heaters 55.00
Men's ware
Suit 35.00
Jacket 15.00
Trousers 6.30
Shirt 5.00

Women’s ware
Suit 16.00
Dress 8.00
Blouses 4.00

Shoes
Men's 10.00
Ladies' Shoes 9.12
Children's Shoes 5.10

Motoring
Petrol litre 0.50
Diesel litre 0.45
LPG litre 0.25

Property maintenance and typical utility costs
January 15.00
February 14.50
March 13.00
April 12.00
May 11.00
June 11.00
July 10.50
August 12.50
September 13.00
October 14.00
November 14.50
December 15.00
Total 156.00

Electricity £0.07/kWh
Water £0.35/m3
Council tax £35/year
Cleaner £35/month
Internet-LAN £8.00/month
Phone landline £60/connection £2.5/monthly £0.06/STD
Security "COT" £150/connection £15.00/month

 


GETTING THERE

 

There are direct daily flights from London Gatwick to Sofia operated by Balkanair and Easyjet, Wizzair flies to Luton and British Airways operates a similar daily service from Heathrow.
Consult the Balkan Holidays website for specifics of 16 major UK cities which offer a regular service to Varna/Bourgas airports from May to October and to Sofia from December to March. Package deals at large discounts are a regular feature.

Prices vary but it is possible to fly from £250 in summer and £165 in winter (BA).

If you arrive at Sofia the easiest option is to take daily Internal flights from Sofia to Bourgas operated by Hemus. Another option is to hire a car. Rail or buses are a cheap alternative.

 

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Passport
All visitors require a full British passport that since joining the EU allow an indefinate stay.

Residence Permit
Residence permits are issued free at the regional police stations

Police
Registering with the police has been scrapped, as of 1st September 2006.

Medical
All emergency treatment is available free of charge under your E111 available from UK post offices together with your NHS medical card however prescription medicines have to be paid for.

Private health care is available.

www.lifehospitalbg.com

Security
Crime is low in Bulgaria and locals in small towns such as Sozopol people are very nosy (in the nicest way)! They recognise and watch out for strangers. It is possible to have a security system installed (around £150) and linked to a 24/7/365 monitoring service that delivers 2 or 3 burly guards to your property minutes after the alarms goes off. COT is the Bulgarian company providing this service and the display of it’s sign on your property is often deterrent enough.

Mortgages
Two Sofia Based banks recently announced their willingness to provide mortgages in Bulgaria. This appeared in the Guardian in September this year. Bulgarian American Credit Bank & DSK Bank.

An Finally ... Head Gestures
One peculiar thing about Bulgarians is that they use totally different head gestures to everybody else in the world. A left to right and right to left movement meaning "no", to the Bulgarians means "yes'. And vice versa, the back and forth rocking of the head that ordinarily means "yes", in Bulgaria means "no". A shoulder to shoulder rocking of the head means "maybe".
When you think have an agreement get it in writing!

USEFUL CONTACTS

Couriers
DHL
2A Ferdinandova Str,
4th Floor
8000 Bourgas
Tel: 056 842 049

Supermarkets/Cash & Carry
Billa
Main road to Sofia
Bourgas

Metro
Main road to Sofia
8008 Bourgas

Airlines
Hemus Air
Sofia Airport Sofia,
1504 Bulgaria
Phone: (359-2) 702-076; 720-754; 658-577
Fax: (359-2) 796-380; 9801 8330

Balkan Bulgarian Airlines
Sofia Airport Sofia 1540, Bulgaria
Phone: (359-2) 881-800; 661-616
Fax: (359-2) 791-206; 709-217; 797-046

Air Ports

Sofia Airport
Sofia 1540, Bulgaria
Phone: (359-2) 661-616
Fax: (359-2) 709-217; 797-046

Bourgas Airport
Bourgas 8220,
Bulgaria Phone: (359-56) 792-504; 2831; 688-078; 684-083; 683-151
Fax: (359-56) 39-140; 39-045; 680-010

Varna Airport
Varna 9000, Bulgaria
Phone: (359-52) 650 452; 650 840
Fax: (359-52) 650 830; 650 822

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