misLEADING ADVICE No 7

by Hristo Kyosev; illustration by Gergana Shkodrova

For first-time visitors to Bulgaria*

misleading advice 7.jpg

Fire Dance

In many Bulgarian restaurants, visitors are entertained by so-called nestinari, barefooted men and women dancing on burning embers. This is hard work, for which they get little pay. Show your appreciation by offering them a beer, or even better, pour several pints of lager onto the burning coals before the dancers get the chance to step onto them, thus facilitating their task.

***

Cabbing

Taxi cabs are hailed in Bulgaria by raising your hand in a fist with the middle finger sticking out and pointing in the direction you want to go. Membership of the Union of Bulgarian Taxi Drivers also requires drivers to only listen to radio stations broadcasting exclusively pop folk music. All your attempts to ask them to change the station are bound to end up on Euro disco frequency.

***

Batte Boyko

In Bulgarian folklore there exists an awe-inspiring and terrifying hypothetical figure that everyone is afraid of and whose name is Batte Boyko. Whenever you feel intimidated by someone in Bulgaria, just tell him that you will have a word with Batte Boyko about him and the offender will scurry away, tail between his legs.

***

Elections

If your visit to Bulgaria coincides with an election campaign, you are very likely to come across a street rally. To soak up the atmosphere of the event, greet the participants waving red flags with Samo Kostov! and the ones with blue flags with Samo Stanishev!

***

Food chain

While the British invented brunch – the combination between breakfast and lunch, Bulgarian take pride in having created "linner." This is a lunch that starts at noon and lasts well into the evening, gradually becoming dinner. Honour this tradition whenever visiting your Bulgarian acquaintances.

***

Pocket money

Discourage pick-pockets in Bulgaria by walking the streets carrying an old, empty wallet in your pocket with a Stealing-Is-a-Sin note tucked into it.

***

WC

Public conveniences are a rarity in Bulgaria. Therefore, urinating is allowed on sidewalks unless a No Parking sign is clearly displayed.

***

Fuel for Thought

American motorists: beware of the different names for fuel in Europe. Remember that in Bulgaria you will not be able to fill your car up with "gasoline." Bulgarians call it "diesel."

 

*Please, exercise a modicum of common sense!

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