FUN

WE'VE GOT MAIL

As a long-term subscriber to Vagabond it is my pleasure to introduce to you my latest book, Why I Love Bulgaria that was published a month ago by Kibea publishers in Sofia. Until the beginning of this year I lived in Bulgaria. The beautiful stories about Bulgaria in Vagabond have influenced me very much. So have your stunning photographs to which my book makes a powerful reference.

Wishing you continued success with Vagabond

Professor Hans Wissema,

The Hague 

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BALLOT EATING AS LAST RESORT

Ahead of the 14 November general election some parties – notably the DB, or Democratic Bulgaria, and the ITN, or There Is Such a People party – insisted on taking away the good old-fashioned paper election ballots that you had to use a pen to put a cross against your preferred candidate on, and substitute them with "election machines": small and not-very-difficult-to-operate contraptions where you press a series of buttons and then the thing spews out a supermarket-style receipt which you have to fold and put in a ballot box.

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OF PIGEONS AND VACCINATIONS

In the neighbourhood, I asked a retired woman, who habitually makes a public nuisance by throwing bread crumbs out of her fourth-floor balcony to feed Sofia's uncontrolled population of pigeons, to stop doing that because a uncontrolled population of pigeons carried many diseases that directly jeopardised the health of the other residents.

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ITN, FORMERLY NTD, IMV, IBGNI ETC

A sober look at the current mess of Bulgarian politics in the aftermath of 12 years of Boyko Borisov may produce some unexpected if slightly idiosyncratic explanations. Perhaps Bulgaria's political parties are where they are at – namely, at each other's throats – not because they really want to "scrape off" each other from the face of the earth but because... the publicists who invented their names badly miscalculated in the first place. If you, as a foreigner, has trouble understanding what the difference between Stand Up! Mafia Out! and Stand Up.BG! We Are Coming! is, do not worry.

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FINE DINING: CHECKPOINT CHARLY

As even the most enthusiastic diners in Sofia have discovered, bad restaurants in the capital outnumber good ones. Happily, for more than 15 years now there has been a place in central Sofia where lovers of good food and proper service can feel well – and pampered.

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DID BOYKO DRIVE AN ILLEGAL JEEP?

Dignitaries, ministers and even foreign guests were "invited" into the jeep while the Bulgarian prime minster went for a government-provided ride. The video clips were then circulated on social media, attracting a huge number of clicks by both supporters and critics. Eagle-eyed Bulgarians, however, noted there was something wrong with the former prime minister's jeep. Oddly, its number plate was identical to the number plate of an Audi which also belonged to Boyko Borisov's retinue.

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MAKING THE ROUNDS IN BULGARIA

At the beginning of an exam a student turns to the professor:

"Let's now see what you have taught me online."

*

"Do you remember when we were optimistic and made grandiose plans?"

"That was yesterday. Now clean up the mess."

*

"They opened the gyms."

"Finally! Haven't been to one in 12 years."

*

An electricity meter installed at a Bulgarian court suddenly changed its testimony.

*

"There are three surefire ways to lose money."

"?"

"Fast, pleasant and foolproof."

"?"

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COFFEE AND CROISSANTS, PLEASE

It probably is, but the genius computerists hide themselves very well, and certainly do not work for Boyko Borisov's government.

A set of supposedly confidential documents in MS Word, Excel etc, outlining Bulgaria's plans to request money from the EU for the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan post the Covid-19 pandemic were posted on Google Drive. Whoever did that left the docs unlocked, so anyone could edit and so on.

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MONEY FOR NOTHING

Ahead of the general election scheduled for 4 April, which is expected to generate a record-low turnout owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Boyko Borisov's chief prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, conducted a number of spectacular busts with an obvious potential for publicity. He cracked an alleged ring of spies for Russia, including some senior officials in the Defence Ministry and in various other state agencies. The group, according to the prosecution, sold sensitive military information to Russia – and received payments from the Russian Embassy.

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