Issue 106

SOFIA IN AUGUST

When you talk about the Bulgarian capital with one of those people who pride themselves on being "true" Sofianites – as opposed to all the dastardly newcomers who they think have ruined the city – they all state at a certain point that they love Sofia the most in August.

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POMORIE TOMB: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY BY THE SEA

Pomorie, a seaside town about 20 kilometres north of Burgas, has now become a concrete labyrinth of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks thronged with Russian tourists and holiday-home owners. It does not sound particularly appealing – but that's only on the surface.

Amidst the dust, sun and crowds of Pomorie, there is a place of eternal silence and an unexplained mystery. To find it, you have to take a sign-posted lane off the congested Burgas-Nesebar road. This lane leads to a lush vineyard and there, hidden inside the cold embrace of a huge mound, is a tomb.

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HEART OF BURGAS

A few years ago, the citizens of Burgas voted for the symbol of their city. Unsurprisingly, they chose the pier. Jutting out from the beach, the pier is the 280-metre long 1980s reincarnation of an 1936 original.

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THE UNBULGARIANS: MUSA NIASI, GAMBIA

In Bulgaria, he is having an internship in front-end web development with the Magic Solutions company. He is applying for asylum.

Have you experienced special treatment in Bulgaria because you are a foreigner?

Actually, no. I have heard of people having trouble, but I always meet nice people and have never experienced negative thoughts or attitude towards me.

Has Bulgaria surprised you?

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DEAR VAGABOND

Dear Vagabond,

I've been pondering about my dog, our little memento from Bulgaria. Do you know what breeds these Bulgarian street dogs come from? Is it a mix of Scenthound and Karakachan? Or international influence, perhaps German shepherd? I have attached a photo of her – she's a little grey around the snout now – nine years old next month! She doesn't really have any English dog friends, she prefers people. We joke that it's because their barks are foreign to her!

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6 MUST-VISIT SMALL TOWNS

With about 1.1 million out of 7 million Bulgarians living in cities with up to 20,000 inhabitants, small-town Bulgaria is not exactly populous, and for a good reason. The small towns in Bulgaria suffered heavily from the economic reshaping during the post-Communist Transition. In the 1990s, factories were shut down and thousands migrated, both internally and abroad.

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THE UNBULGARIANS: NICHOLA AND NICOLAS KINSON

Have you experienced special treatment because you are foreigners?

Nicholas: When we first came here everybody was warm and welcoming, and a lot of the people in the village were very curious what we were constructing. They used to bring us fresh fruit and vegetables, just to try. The difficulty is the language.

Nicola: Sometimes, when we have builders and construction companies, I think they prefer to talk about the technical stuff with Nick.

Is there anything typically Bulgarian?

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

My neighbour owns some turkeys. Journalists make exactly the same noise.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

You hand out the Stara Planina state order as if it were church waffles.

Volen Siderov, leader of Ataka, on the decoration of former American Ambassador Marcie Ries

While there is Rakiya Bulgaria will be invincible.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, general manager of the National Museum of History

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TRIGGER CUT. THREE ACTS FROM A LIFE, A short story

1.

One evening, two weeks before loan sharks would chase him away into the unknowable depths of Indonesia, Frankie's father sat and sighed at the dinner table. It was the round marble table with a Lazy Susan, stained with sesame and chili oil-spills.

"What's wrong?" Frankie asked, doubled over, hands above his knees. He was breathless and sweaty from running up and down the alleyway, chasing the fat brown dog with the lolling tongue.

Frankie's father sat frowning at his left palm.

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