09 Jun Lost in translation in Bulgaria
For decades backpackers have set new trends in travel and over time thus opened up largely unknown destinations to the wider public. Bulgaria could become one such touristic hotspot in the future. And just in case you were wondering … I’m not referring to that ominous party zone on the Black Sea Coast that is constantly haunted by hordes of binge-drinking yobs chasing after affordable booze! There’s much more to this country that makes it a perfect candidate for any gap year adventure. Before I get started with my ramblings, there’s just one tiny little thing I’d like to clarify which could otherwise entail a whole slew of unwanted side effects for your travels. One essential element that probably sets Bulgarian culture apart from all the rest is that people tend to shake their head to say ‘yes’ and conversely nod their head when they mean ‘no’. Many Bulgarians don’t speak English so at times it’s all about gesticulating, sign language or other types of non-verbal communication in order to wing it and get your point across … and the Cyrillic alphabet certainly adds to that challenge! So if you want to make sure you don’t wind up at the wrong end of the country when hopping on a bus, you should bear this in mind! Anyway, if you get this right, Bulgaria is a great place to visit … here are a few hints and must-sees:
Bulgaria is the perfect haunt for any frugal traveller. It is a pleasingly cheap getaway compared to most other European touristic hotspots and you can even scavenge a room for roughly €15 per night in Sofia, the capital city. Food shouldn’t set you back more than a tenner a day if you know where to look and make use of the city’s vibrant markets (don’t forget to haggle!) I found Sofia to be a very compact and walkable city with a young, energetic and dynamic vibe to it … and more importantly, all of these qualities are also reflected in its’ nightlife. There’s a myriad of trendy pubs, bars and clubs around every corner. If you feel like meeting plenty of expats you should head to ‘JJ Murphy’s Irish Pub’. Another place worth visiting on your nocturnal jaunts is ‘The Apartment’ which treats you to a stylish combination of art, music and cinema. But, regardless of your whereabouts, make sure you sample some yummy Bulgarian wine…
This monastery, first founded in the 9th century and declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1983, is just a mere two hours by car from Sofia (beware of all those dodgy pothole-riddled roads) and makes you wonder if you’ve set foot in a completely different world. It is nestled against the backdrop of spectacular mountainous terrain and boasts massive walls along with stunning frescos. The country’s most renowned monastery has been a linchpin of Bulgarian culture and religion for centuries and its vibe takes you back to ancient times. Only the odd monk wearing fancy sunglasses and chatting away on shiny mobile phones will make you realise you’re actually in the 21st century. A visit is most enjoyable in the low season when the monastery isn’t descended upon by hordes of ‘marauding’ tourists.
For more useful information about Bulgaria go to mydestination.com!
Author Bio: Rob Melau
Rob Melau, decided to study tourism management to combine his professional career with his passion for travel. He lived in England and France for a while and is already on the lookout for the next adventure somewhere in Asia or South America. Enjoys writing, sports and any type of outdoor activity.