"General Intro for the first time visitor." Bulgaria by unaS
Bulgaria Travel Guide: 5,880 reviews and 16,865 photos
Bulgaria is slowly coming out from under centuries of foreign rule. The Ottoman Empire controlled this country for 500 years. Then they rebuilt and with the help of the Russians (Tzar Alexander II) won their freedom, only to have the European nations split the country up into small parts. Another war helped to re-unite some parts but that was quickly followed by Communist domination..
The tourist infra-structure is poor but improving. Buses are more convenient than trains in general. They run more frequently and go to more locations.
Tourist Information Offices are in their infancy. Mostly staffed by people that want to be helpful but have limited resources.
Travel and food are inexpensive, accommodations are not! If you are on a budget stick to hostels, private rooms or rent a flat for a few days.
Most of the people I met were very friendly. I tried to use some simple Bulgarian words as much as possible, but kept the book open to show them the word in Cyrillic letters when my pronunciation was obviously impossible to understand. This was especially so in restaurants, when I wanted hot milk, for instance.
They are inquisitive and want to know where you are from and if you are enjoying your visit to their country.
Waiters and waitresses can be saucy, but I didn't meet any "surly" ones. Occasionally one would make a face if my order was inexpensive :-)
Only in one case did they refuse to produce a menu w/English or w/photos. I got up and walked out. The look on the face of the waitress was my reward!
In one case I was given the Cyrillic menu w/pics. I pointed and the waitress asked me a question - when I didn't understand she brought me the English menu. The prices were the same, but the dishes were not! The meal I had chosen was in the English menu, but minus the broccoli. I pointed again to the Cyrillic menu quite emphatically. She shrugged and brought it to me.
Money: Don't change any more money than you need to reach your hotel at the airport. In April the fixed rate for the Euro was 1.95 leva=1 Euro. At the airport they gave me only 1.65 leva to the Euro!. Also best to use banks only to exchange money. Bring your passport with.
Use the words 'Da' (yes) and 'Ne' (no)!!
The Bulgarian tradition is to shake the head for yes and to nod for no, BUT sometimes they switch over to the more common usage for your convenience.
You, of course, are expecting them to use their own form - this can cause some funny confusions!!
One time returning from Bachkovo Monastery to Plovdiv a bus arrived that did not say Plovdiv on it. I asked the driver "Plovdiv?". He gave a long slow nod. I backed out. Everyone started laughing and pulling me up into the bus. He had nodded for my sake and I interpreted it as a No because that is what I expected from a Bulgarian! So do use the words :)
- Pros:A beautiful country with a long history
- Cons:Language, language, language!
- In a nutshell:It was more work than most, but worth it.
Please remember that tipping is acceptable and expected in Bulgaria. Restaurants: 10 - 15% Taxis: Round up to the... more travel advice
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