Issue 127

THE ART OF MAKING MONEY

With interests on deposits hitting an all-time low and no change in sight in the near future, trading is a way to make a good profit. The waters of international markets, however, can be rough for both beginners and advanced traders who suffer from more than the healthy amount of enthusiasm. To make the best of the markets, such enthusiasts need the help of Admiral Markets UK, a regulated FCA broker. The company offers a modern platform for trading CFDs on currencies, commodities, stocks and indices.

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SENSE OF DEADENDS

For obvious reasons, Bulgarian domestic politics is not readily understandable to outsiders especially those who don't speak Bulgarian. How could you explain the setup in the new Bulgarian parliament to an outsider who knows about Europe and the United States, but who is unable to understand who and what stands behind names such as GERB, Ataka, United Patriots and Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation?

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EUROPE DAY VS. DAY OF VICTORY

Combining the celebrations of St Trifon, the local patron saint of wine and winemaking, and St Valentine, the imported patron of love – both being celebrated on 14 February, pales in comparison to what happens on 9 May. Long before and long after that date, Bulgarians argue both in restaurants and on Facebook about what should be celebrated: Europe Day or the Day of Victory over Nazi Germany.

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ENDANGERED KOPRIVSHTITSA

Is it possible for a place where a rebellion against a powerful empire started to be saved from being raised to the ground by the victorious power? History is full of examples where the answer is a resounding "no." Bulgaria, however, has a town where the opposite happened.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR VOLEN

Volen Siderov, perhaps Bulgaria's most scandalous extreme nationalist, whose rabid xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric dwarfs everyone in the Le Pen family combined, had a birthday recently. His guests of honour: GERB's top brass – Boyko Borisov and Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

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STARA ZAGORA'  S MUSEUM OF RELIGIONS

The Romans believed that some places are inhabited and protected by their own spirit, a Genius loci, and consequently filled all the corners of their empire with altars and reliefs dedicated to these entities. The belief in Genii loci is no more, but if these spirits were real, one of them would definitely call a certain location in central Stara Zagora its own. For millennia, nations and religious have come and gone, and yet generations of people have continuously used a particular place as a sacred location.

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BERSERK BELLES OF GRADUATION BALLS

Despite appearances, they are not members of some mysterious sect – they are simply celebrating their graduation from high school. Rites of passage are, of course, important, although the ways they are marked around the world vary widely: from the Quinceañera, the celebration of a girl's turning 15 years of age in Spanish-speaking America, to the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies that commemorate Jewish children's entry into adolescence, to the sacrificial rites Australian Aborigines and New Guinean tribes perform to mark puberty.

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WHO WAS KRALI MARKO?

For centuries, legends and epic songs were told and sung; they spread, transformed and became more and more elaborate, telling the story of the larger-than-life Krali Marko. The owner of a wondrous spotted horse, he encountered fairies, braved invaders and traitors, participated in heroic competitions, and freed thousands of enslaved men and women. It is hardly a surprise, then, that a number of locations in modern Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia bear his name.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Until yesterday, they were being dubbed nationalists. Now they get rebranded as patriots to make them more palatable to the outside world.

Veselin Mareshki, leader of Volya, or Will, political party

GERB's top brass is heavily Communist. Communists fighting against Communism will spell the end of Bulgaria.

Professor Ivo Hristov, an MP for the BSP

GERB is the only party that can handle corruption.

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BLOOMS OF YAYLATA

This corner of Bulgaria is a protected area where wildlife cohabits with ancient ruins, and the southernmost corner of the great Eurasian steppes reaches a rugged seacoast full of coves and caves. Located about a couple of kilometres from the nondescript village of Kamen Bryag, Yaylata remains one of the last refuges of nature, history and landscape undisturbed by human presence in Bulgaria. Most tourists come here to take photos, and then rush away to more comfortable places.

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SOFIA IN THE PAST

Modern Sofia is a city stuck in transition, a mixture of more or less preserved pre-1944 architecture with all its highs and lows, of menacing or just plain ugly administrative and residential buildings from the Communist era, and of striking or, more often misguided developments from the times of the free market. A century ago, Sofia was also stuck in transition, this time between its past as a backwater Ottoman town and the speedily Europeanising capital of an ambitious nation.

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ZGORIGRAD FORGOTTEN TRAGEDY

Stunning peaks, steep cliffs, lush forests and plenty of trails to explore: Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park is the perfect escape from the big city. In a couple of days here you can visit the Ledenika Cave and its multimedia show, explore hidden treasures such as Borov Kamak Waterfall or have a picnic or a climb at Vratsata Gorge. The air is, of course, crystal clear.

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THE BATTLE FOR HEALTH

Everyone wants to be healthy, but how exactly to achieve this is a question to which are dedicated countless books, wisdom quotes, articles in magazines and websites, disputes, scandals, theories and fantastic amounts of money. But even if sometimes you feel not only lost in the sea of information (is alcohol in moderate amounts beneficial or is any drop of it harmful? why do you suffer from a high blood pressure while you are still 30 and your weight is okay?), but also that modern medicine is underperforming, then stop and have a thorough thought. Is this really so?

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