Issue 159-160

BULGARIA'S STREET CATS

Seeing your car surrounded by a crowd of people, peering inside it and crouching down to look underneath it, is rarely a good sign, even in a small place like Malko Tarnovo, the only town in the Bulgarian part of the Strandzha mountains. But this was what greeted the Vagabond team this summer, on leaving a 30-minute meeting.

"You have a cat in the car!," the crowd said with indignation, because the day was hot and the windows were up.

"No, we do not!," we protested and that was the truth. None of us owned a cat.

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UNLEASHING THE POTENTIAL OF SERVICES MANAGEMENT OPTIMIZATION

OutsourceBG Services is a Bulgarian company focused on providing high quality tailored IT, information, management and consulting services for customers all across Europe. Established in 2015 with the online portal Outsource.bg, the company has grown to over 50 employees working for more than 20 customers in 12 countries. In 2019 it opened a subsidiary in Germany with EurIT Services GmbH and has started a new innovative recruitment portal/agency with Hiring.bg.

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SCHOLARS AND RADICALS

When a Bulgarian TV crew came to our village in northeastern Bulgaria to shoot a beer advert they wanted British people in the film, so we appeared as ourselves. The image they portrayed in the 30-second clip is cosy and crafty, and shows the British incomers playing a natural part in village life. I am happy to say that this image is true, as all of us have been warmly welcomed here since day one.

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RAIDERS OF TREASURE MOUND

Large and small, isolated or in groups, you will see mounds all over Bulgaria: atop rolling hills and amid farming fields, by old village graveyards and motorways, even on the outskirts of Sofia. The ancient Thracians who lived in the Bulgarian lands between the 1st millennium BC and the 6th century AD created most of them. They buried their dead there, interring noblemen and women with expensive personal possessions. In many cases the tombs were very impressive, such as those in Kazanlak, Aleksandrovo and Sboryanovo.

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DIMITRIOS CHRONOPOULOS & EFI KATOPI

If there is a single trick to open up people's hearts and minds for Greece and things Greek it is Portokalopita, the deliciously different Greek pastry which combines in almost neoclassical proportions shredded phyllo with orange and cinnamon syrup to keep it beautifully moist. Dimitrios Chronopoulos, the new Greek ambassador in Sofia, must have known this, and his wife, Efi, is ready with her excellent Portokalopita the moment we sit down for a sip of Greek coffee at the comely Greek Residence in Central Sofia.

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LIKE OLD CHUMS

Trump commended his ally, Bulgaria, for spending as much as 3 percent of its GDP on defence (Germany should take an example of that, according to Trump) and for having recently concluded a deal to buy some US F-35 fighter jets (Bulgaria is actually about to buy F-16s). Speaking at the National Democratic Institute in DC Borisov told the Americans to "go on quarrelling at home," but assured Bulgaria would welcome both Republicans and Democrats.

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FORTIFIED BULGARIA, PART 2

Such examples are the fortification structures excavated at a salt-producing town near Provadiya and a fortified settlement now in Ticha Dam, near Shumen, both belonging to the 5th millennium BC. Archaeologists interpret these two sites as early evidence for a stratified society whose wealth and resources attracted incursions and invasions.

Discovering new fortifications sounds great, but most of the fortresses in the Bulgarian lands are in a condition that can excite only an archaeologist. Few have survived in a state fit for Instagrammable photos.

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WALKING THROUGH FOREST OF STONE

T-Rexes and diplodocs, pterodactyls and megalodons. These are the first things we usually think of when contemplating the distant past of our Earth, of the times when strange creatures roamed continents and oceans that are now only a distant geological memory. Fascinated by these giants of the past, we often miss the larger picture. These animals did not live in a vacuum. They inhabited an environment dominated by plants that they used for food and shelter.

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BETWEEN THE FLOORS

I used to live on the last floor, but now I reside on the landing between the last and the next-to-last floor. I don't remember how long it's been. It must be a while, though, since people seem really used to me by now and pretend I don't even exist. For my part, I just sit here, look out the window, and keep mum.

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