FOR A FEW STRETCHES OF ASPHALT

by Christopher Buxton

Where has the 'love of the people' disappeared?

The current ruling coalition comprising the BSP, DPS and Ataka is busy digging into the GERB party sewers frantically shovelling wagonloads of slime to pour over Boyko Borisov's head – accusations of financial mismanagement, corrupt cronyism, gross intrusion into citizens’ privacy and so on and so forth - in the hope that the muck will be so sticky that its stink will remain in voters’ nostrils come the next election. So how will posterity assess the legacy of the "Greatest Living Bulgarian"?

If Boyko "Big Brother" Borisov is remembered for anything positive at all, it must be the motorway linking Sofia with Burgas. Such excitement – my friends and neighbours all boasting how they can now drive to the capital in just over a couple of hours. The speed limit is 130 kph, but my mates assure me that the police grant a 10 kph margin. This mysteriously translates into a cruising speed of 150 kph.

How hard to remember those golden days of leisurely motoring when Bulgaria’s only stretch of motorway ran from Sofia to Plovdiv and the KAT traffic police put trestle tables across all but one lane at the beginning of the highway just to remind comrade drivers how lucky they were to pretend that their Ladas and Trabants could be temporarily transformed into F1 racing cars for the 120 kilometres ahead.

Now Bulgaria is in Europe and Big Brother Boyko boasts that the motorway built with European money is his creation.
However, whether this road deserves to be called a motorway is seriously open to question. Unlucky foreigners can easily be fooled into believing that driving down this road at the prescribed speed limit is safe. They should know two things. First, the oldest part of the road - between Sofia and Plovdiv - is in serious need of repair. Two, that there is little or no warning of roadworks. Those beloved Autobahn signs that advise you kilometres in advance of speed restrictions and lane closures are entirely absent. Instead the unwary driver in the fast lane faces a sudden unheralded line of traffic cones 50 yards from a parked bulldozer. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred he swerves and because of the relative lack of traffic intensity he survives to rain curses on the bulldozer’s mother.

Summer traffic on the motorway is intense. _Gästarbeiters[ital] are making their summer migration from Germany to Turkey in cars filled with children and luggage. Just one more country to cross and they are on home soil. Outside Plovdiv, two policemen are flapping their arms and directing traffic off the motorway. Like inept toreadors they risk their lives with just a line of plastic traffic cones to protect them from the cars charging at them at phenomenal speeds.

Elsewhere diverted drivers expect to see further signs, leading them through back roads towards that magic point where they can safely rejoin the motorway. On an occasion the traffic column sent off down the dual carriageway into Plovdiv took the first opportunity to perform an illegal U-turn and return to join the motorway just a few yards down from the flapping policemen. No one had thought to close the slip road back onto the motorway.

A mile on down the road the traffic slowed to thread its way through the wreckage of five cars, that had swerved, crashed, shunted in trying to avoid an enormous steam-roller left over the weekend in the fast lane. In a nearby field a stunned Turkish woman wept beside her smashed up car – a car filled to the roof with luggage and presents for her friends and relations back home.

Meanwhile thanking our lucky stars that we hadn’t embarked on our journey half an hour earlier we drove on towards Burgas down the remaining 150 kilometres of Boyko Borisov's road. The Turkish drivers had now left to join the still largely single track road towards the border and the only snake in this motoring heaven is that there are no petrol stations, no toilets – just a very few treeless shrubless high-fenced parking lay-byes.

  • COMMENTING RULES

    Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

WITH BOTH EUROS IN THE PAST
In spite of the protestations of the ruling "fixture" between PP-DB (Changes Continued of Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev and Democratic Bulgaria of Gen Atanas Atanasov and Hristo Ivanov) and Boyko Borisov's GERB about the "top national pri

WHO IS AFRAID OF VASIL 'SKULL' BOZHKOV?
While Bulgarians left, right and centre are quibbling over the fate of a pile of stones crowned by some sculpted Red Army soldiers in central Sofia, the state prosecution service quietly terminated a case started by Vasil Bozhkov, one of this country's weal

RUMOURS OF GERB'S DEMISE TURN OUT TO BE PREMATURE
Polling agencies got it wrong again

CHURCH OF DISCONTENT
Colourful and gilt-domed, looking like a toy, the St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker church in central Sofia is known to Bulgarians simply as the Russian Church.

PP-DB'S FALSE STARTS
Notwithstanding the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Nikolay Denkov's "fixture" (the word he uses to describe the government), several bits of legislation put forward by the rulers and quickly voted into law have raised eyebrows and prompted a sig

UPS & DOWNS OF BULGARIAN ANTISEMITISM
А crudely-cut cartoon circulating on social media shows Former Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, who is Jewish, being held by two Nazi-clad soldiers. The text (in Bulgarian) reads: "If you don't want Russian gas, we will give you some of ours."

IT'S THE HISTORY, STUPID!
In 2013, when the Inland Revenue agency started a probe into alleged wrongdoing by then President Rosen Plevneliev, he famously excused himself: I am not a Martian. Plevneliev had been a minister for Boyko Borisov.

BYE-BYE, IVAN GESHEV
Three years after the event, the massive street protests that blocked the traffic in Central Sofia in the course of months, in 2020, seem to have achieved their original aims.
END OF 'MAFIA STATE'?
If anyone believed that the CC-DB, or Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria alliance, who lost the April election and are now the second largest party in the Bulgarian National Assembly, were serious in their declared and oft-repeated pledges they wanted to

WILL THE DISGUSTED EMBRACE THE DISGUSTING?
Despite the massive and apparently rather expensive advertising campaign, which involved TV, print, outdoor and plenty of Facebook, the Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) alliance lost the 2 April election.
LONG LIVE RED ARMY MONUMENT!
Whenever developed democracies hold a general election, at stake – usually – are pressing issues of the day. Oil, terrorism, immigration. Nuclear weapons. Abortion rights. Inflation. Climate change. The cost of living...

WHO IS WHO AND WHO WANTS WHAT IN THE UPCOMING BULGARIAN GENERAL ELECTION?
It was called by President Rumen Radev, who is now the de facto ruler of this country, acting through the caretaker governments he appoints, because the previous election, in October 2022, failed to produce any kind of political alignment that could form a