FUN

WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

It produced some of the brightest minds of the time. Since independence in 1878, however, it has been going downhill as its citizens sought their fortunes elsewhere and emigrated en masse. At present it is a pleasant backwater of a town tucked in the southern foothills of the Stara Planina mountain range. It is now known mainly for two things. It is the most popular gateway to hikers heading to conquer the Botev Summit (2,376 metres above sea level), the highest in the Stara Planina.

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EYEBALL IT: VILLAGE CULINARY ADVENTURES

Rory Miller's book Eyeball It: Village Culinary Adventures is a funny, warm and sometimes poignant exploration of rural Bulgarian life, and its food and people in the 2020s. On the pages of this semi-travelogue, semi-memoir and semi-cookbook you will encounter semi-abandoned villages in the northwest and the southeast. You will walk dusty streets, enter old kitchens that have changed little since the 1980s, and watch how the chicken for the soup is caught, killed and plucked.

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PRE-ELECTION TALK

"Hey, beauty, let's go home and have sex."

" I can't do it just like that. We do not even have common acquaintances."

"Well, do you know Boyko Borisov?"

"Yes, I do."

"So, let's go!"

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They say there is no unemployment in Bulgaria. That's not true. Look at how many people are looking for jobs as mayors.

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When you see many people dressed in suits go to church and light candles or plant trees, local elections are in the offing.

***

Two politicians talk to each other.

"Hey, pal, how did you get rich?"

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LONG LIVE RED ARMY MONUMENT

Other angry citizens have taken to the park, where the MOCHA is situated. They have set up tents threatening they will defend with their bodies the pile of stones which they see as epitomising the victorious Red Army's fight against Nazism, for which the Bulgarian nation should be "eternally grateful." In the agencies of the state pen-pushers of all shapes and sizes scurry to manifest why the Red Army moment cannot be dismantled, at least not in the foreseeable future.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

We have laws already. What are we ranting about? All tarts woke up 16 years later to remember they were raped. Like the case of that American film director whom they turned a monkey into.

Former chairman of the National Assembly Culture Committee Vezhdi Rashidov

Sofia must be hospitable to the people of Sofia rather than the Italians, Germans and Englishmen who come in weekends to have a beer along Vitosha Boulevard.

Vanya Grigorova, candidate for the Sofia mayoralty

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WHICH TOWN IS A SPA CENTRE?

1. Where is the Baba Vida fort?

A. In Varna

B. On the Vitosha

C. In Vidin

2. The anti-government rebellion known as the September Uprising was in...

A. 1923

B. 1944

C. 1876

3. Where is the Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory?

A. In the Stara Planina

B. In the Strandzha

C. In the Rhodope

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WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

Perched on a rocky outcrop, it marks the easternmost point of Bulgaria. It was erected in the middle of the 19th century by a French company working on commission from the Ottoman sultan who was keen on modernising the outer reaches of his realm. The lighthouse survived many wars, natural disasters and political regimes, and it still stands where it was supposed to be originally. But – like at least a dozen other interesting, intriguing or bizarre sites in Bulgaria – you cannot visit it.

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FLYING COLOURS & METEORITES

Firstly, a bright light appeared in the sky over Vidin, at the River Danube, one dark, hot and mosquito-infested night. It was reputedly followed by a loud explosion. People were mesmerised and slightly frightened. During the following days the media reported a unusually large meteorite burning over Romanian territory, leaving no identifiable debris. But the event, which will probably go down in local lore as the World-Famous Vidinska Event, was the beginning rather than the end of the story.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

I want to make it perfectly clear that Ukraine insists on continuing this war, and that the bill is being paid by the whole of Europe.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev during the inauguration of the Rozhen Flagpole

Radev swings between being a war hawk and a dove of peace.

Kornelia Ninova, Chairwoman of the BSP

In Bulgaria's right wing, there is a conflict between the families of the former State Security and the genuine rightwing people.

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