Issue 114

DAY OF FLOWERS

Palm Sunday blends half-forgotten traditions with Orthodox Christianity

Palm Sunday in Bulgaria, which is on 24 April this year according to the Eastern Orthodox Church, is an event that offers a glimpse of yet another contradiction in society, between half-forgotten traditions, religion and pure joie de vivre.

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DAY OF FLOWERS

Palm Sunday in Bulgaria, which is on 24 April this year according to the Eastern Orthodox Church, is an event that offers a glimpse of yet another contradiction in society, between half-forgotten traditions, religion and pure joie de vivre.

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AT LAND'S END

In 1808, a German geographer, August Zeune, erroneously referred to southeastern Europe as "The Balkans" because he thought the Balkan range ran all the way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. It doesn't. It exists entirely in Bulgarian territory: from the border with Serbia to the Black Sea coast at Cape Emine (Emine being a pretty common female Turkish proper name). The Bulgarians themselves refer to the mountain as "The Balkans" only in a poetic context. In everyday speech, The Balkans is just Stara Planina, or Old Mountain.

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OLD PLOVDIV FOREVER

You cannot say that you have any idea of what Bulgaria really is if you have not climbed the cobbled streets of Old Plovdiv, taken in its multi-coloured Revival Period mansions and the faces of saints on the walls of local churches, if you have not savoured the aroma of ageing wood emanating from the houses and of flowers from their lush gardens.

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DICSOVERING CAPE TOWN

Cape Town is a city worth flying halfway round the world to visit. Green and white, spreading around the red and blue Table Mountain, it blends the atmosphere of America and Europe with its own, inimitable feel. Cape Town is the result of its geographical location at the southern tip of a whole continent, Africa, and of its troubled history and mixture of peoples, religions and cultures, and of the characteristic good-humoured character of South Africans and the vibrant modern life in this county.

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WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

To your left is another, smaller, but also gold-domed Russian church, with a monument to a Russian 19th century poet in its backyard. The boulevard you are walking on is named after Russian nobility. Several major avenues are also named after a variety of Russian generals, diplomats, consuls and other functionaries. Is this a piece of Russia in Europe? No, it isn't. Yet, you cannot help wondering.

Where in Bulgaria are you?

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TALK TO THE MEDIA, GET EXCOMMUNICATED

The leadership of Sofia University, the oldest and most prestigious in Bulgaria, issued an order banning all faculty members and students from making any statement to the media without prior approval. This caused the usual outrage, so Sofia University was quick to add that the new rules concerned only pronouncements about the official policies of Alma mater.

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PLENTY OF VENOM

Imagine you spoke Bulgarian, watched Bulgarian TV, bought Bulgarian newspapers, conferred on important issues with your Bulgarian pals on FB, and delved into the darker recesses of the Internet where there are plenty of nebulous websites purporting to carry news about Bulgaria. If you did that, you have two options. One is to go mad within a couple of hours. The other? You will discover that the sort of Bulgaria "described" by the media is very different from the Bulgaria you see on Bulgarian National Television – or out in the street.

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CHRISTIAN KØNIGSFELDT

The Sofia neighbourhood of Boyana can hardly be compared to any other place in the world as it amalgamates, in a quirky way, the brutalism of the former Communist regime and the extravagance of Bulgaria's new rich, but as I drove up a dead-end road on a crisp early-spring morning I never imagined I would end up in a piece of... Denmark, of all places.

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THE POTENTIAL TO BE BETTER

Just like families, companies might look the same but each of them is different, with its own structure, leaders, individuals working in teams, goals and problems. Wilson Learning Worldwide, a global leader in human performance improvement, knows this well and invests significant efforts in the development of know-how for solutions in the fields of sales effectiveness, leadership effectiveness, and individual and team development.

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THE NAME OF THE SUMMER

Greece is a great place to spend your holidays, and this is not news, as show the queues of Bulgarian-plated cars that consistently and predictably form at the border crossings with this country each long weekend and each summer. Each of the persons in these cars will give you his or her own reason for his or her choice of vacation destination. Some say it is the clean sea, others – the calmness and the lack of stress, and third are in love with the quality of service and food. All of these are true, and there are many more.

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