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Bulgaria has changed swiftly over the last decade, though in the villages you can still find folk who ride the donkey to work, eat home-grown potatoes and make their own cheese. The difference now is that they wash it all down in front of a satellite TV.
When Bulgaria ran away with the topsy-turvy capitalist circus, no-one told its people they were swinging without a safety net.
But what the visitor encounters now is a country struggling valiantly to adapt and people who remain remarkably hospitable in the face of social and economic chaos. Urban Bulgaria, especially Sofia, is much changed.
SOFIA Tours, Travel and Activities
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is an ancient town, dating back from centuries ago. Relics are well preserved and match perfectly to the new modern city. The Icon museum, The Crypt within the Memorial church - St. Aleksander Nevski - has kept an unbelievable treasure of well preserved icons.
The tolerant spirit of Sofia could be felt when visiting the Eastern Orthodox church, the Islamic mosque and the Jewish Synagogue. A charming mixture between modern life and a somehow Oriental spirit coupled with extremely friendly people is an experience not to be missed.
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SUGGESTED ITINERARIES: BULGARIA
Bulgarians observe a number of traditional customs. Trifon Zarezan on February 14 is the ancient festival of the wine growers. Vines are pruned and sprinkled with wine to ensure a bounteous harvest.
On March 1, Bulgarians give one another martenitsi, red and white tasseled threads that are worn for health and happiness at the coming of spring. When wearers see their first stork of the season, the martenitsa is tied to the nearest tree.
THINGS TO DO IN BULGARIA
Bulgaria offers tourist attractions all around the year. Most popular are summer seaside resorts, along the entire Black Sea coastline. In winter numerous ski resorts are there to attract tourists. There are many spa, trekking and historical destinations that offer incredibly rich variety of experiences. Cave tourism is also attracting many fans.
LANGUAGE IN BULGARIA
Bulgarian is a southern Slavic language, related to Serbian and Russian, with a certain number of Turkish loanwords in evidence, testifying to the long Ottoman occupation. Modern Bulgarian is difficult to Westerners, especially English-speakers, as it has three genders, no infinitive, and articles are appended to the end of either the noun (if no attribute is present) or the first attribute (example: kuche = dog, kucheto = the dog, dobro kuche = good dog, dobroto kuche = the good dog).
However it is not more difficult than other Slavic tongues, once you get used to the Cyrillic, an alphabet of which the Bulgarians are justifiably proud (it having been invented by two Bulgarian monks, Cyril and Methodius). Be sure to be in Bulgaria for the celebrations of the "Den na Bukvata" ("Day of the Alphabet").
It is also important to remember the fact that Bulgarians - contrary to most nationalities - shake their head for Yes and nod for No! It is better to rely on the words da for yes and nay for no than on head movements. Other common words are rather long in Bulgarian, so they have borrowed caio for good-bye and merci for thank you.
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