VAGABOND FEATURES

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MUZEIKO - BUILDING OF THE YEAR

A few months after its opening, Sofia's Muzeiko, the first museum for children in Eastern Europe, is not only full with visitors eager to learn more about nature, history and space. In December, Muzeiko won the Building of the Year 2015 award in the Educational Infrastructure category. The museum was also a nominee in two more categories, Building Incorporating Green Elements and Concrete in Architecture.

Mon, 01/04/2016 - 14:41
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SOFIA IN THE 1990S

After several years of hectic building and reconstruction – including new Roman ruins and roads that need repairing only two weeks after they have been inaugurated by the prime minister – Sofia looks transformed. In many ways it is. Chain stores and shopping malls dominate the urban landscape, foreign tourists fill the downtown area, and Western coffee culture is replacing the older, Balkan one. There is a metro, and the graffiti are much more sophisticated than the erstwhile political or emotional slogans scribbled on walls. McDonalds is not a novelty and sushi has gone out of fashion.

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 14:01
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WHAT IS MUZEIKO?

Most museums in Bulgaria are still stuck somewhere in the 1970s in terms of the organisation of exhibits, captions layout, photography policy and the content of gift shops. In recent years this has started to change with places like the Stara Zagora's history museum and the Pliocene museum at Dorkovo village, in the Rhodope.

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:32
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LET'S DISCUSS IT

When asked about the things which she doesn't like in Bulgaria, Athena Lao points to a flaw in local mentality. "There are a lot of inefficiencies and frustrations that are completely avoidable and fixable, but some Bulgarians' first impulse is to shrug their shoulders and say nothing can be done, 'because it's Bulgaria'," says the young American from Athens, Georgia. She arrived in Blagoevgrad, in Bulgaria's southwest, in 2012 for a one-year tenure as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant after she graduated in Classical Languages and Literature from Harvard University.

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:45
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HARBINGERS OF SPRING

They are finally home: after flying thousands of kilometres from Africa, the storks have returned to Bulgaria, back to their old nests. Even more have passed through the country, on their way farther into Europe; according to the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, about 75 percent of the storks on the continent arrive through Bulgaria.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 12:17
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MICKEY MOUSE CASTLE BUILDING

On a crisp spring morning, the distant hum of traffic on the Trakiya Highway can barely be heard in the narrow Trayanovi Vrata Pass, in the Sredna Gora mountains. Birds sing, the sky is blue, and early greenery covers the slopes. Until not that long ago, the romantic ruins of an ancient and medieval fortress used to stand there; a labyrinth of still-standing arches and walls, a piece of ancient Rome on Bulgaria soil.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:43
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MEET THE UNBULGARIANS

What does it mean to be Bulgarian? And what does it take not to qualify as one?

Here are some of the commonplaces spread by the mainstream media. Foreigners are rich, highly marriageable material. Or they are funny people who buy decaying rural houses and settle there, happy to grow tomatoes. They are poor migrants who want to sponge on Bulgaria's social security system. Or they are nice fellows who get drunk on a tiny glass of rakiya. Then there are the terrorists...

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 14:56
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100 VAGABONDS

Vagabondis not a propaganda magazine – despite some local expectations, based on the parochial fear of "not showing our dirty linen to outsiders," that it should be. There is nothing parochial in Vagabond. Starting with its challenging name, this magazine has the self-confidence to show what life in Bulgaria is like through its problems. Instead of pouring out platitudes, it investigates, criticises and is daringly ironic. This is a way of getting to like present-day Bulgaria once you have come to know it from the backside of the compliments and the self-conceit.

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:31
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VAGABOND READS

In 2008 we published East of Constantinople/Travels in Unknown Turkey, a travelogue about some of the highlights of one of Europe's most amazing countries. From the Iranian border and what some still think is the remnants of Noah's Ark to places like Mount Nemrut, Şanlıurfa, Cappadocia and Trabzon, we transversed eastern Turkey several times over to be able to come up with a product that still captures the imagination of thousands of readers. In Bulgarian only.

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 17:06
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HIGHFLIGHTS

Its main purpose was to present travel destinations to both incoming and outgoing travellers. To put it in another way, we would carry stories and travelogues about Bulgaria and about world destinations that air companies flying out of Sofia Airport reached. Significantly, we also ran information about the airport itself – those little but very useful tids and bits that passengers want to know when they have a couple of hours to bide between flights.

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 15:19
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LIFE AFTER 100 VAGABONDS

As you know very well in the course of the past eight years, this journal has always avoided sweet-talk and commonplaces. We have tried, with the kind of resources we have had, not to take anything for granted, to pose uneasy questions and to demand straightforward answers. This has applied to everything – from politicians to ambassadors, from artists to inanimate objects such as Bulgarian Orthodox churches sitting in the middle of reservoirs. This is why I thought, initially, I wouldn't be making any particular statements regarding our 100th issue.

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:40
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FORGOTTEN POWS

Bulgaria fought against Britain and the United States during the Second World War. What the pro-Nazi regime in Sofia called a "symbolic war" started on 14 December 1941. As a result, Bulgaria was bombed by the Allies, with the heaviest casualties resulting in Sofia during the raids in the winter of 1943-1944.

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:59
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WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN THE COLD WAR

One of the great ironies of the Cold War is that the two superpowers often championed issues that they cared little about in practice. The East bloc defended the social rights of the world’s workers while treating their own citizens like indentured servants. The United States campaigned for political freedoms abroad while brutally oppressing or marginalising their own African-American and Native American populations at home. Any rhetoric that could be deployed against the enemy became a weapon in the wider ideological battle.

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 05:39
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IN THE COUNTRY OF ANGRY WAITERS

I have been asked – repeatedly, time and again, over and over in the course of many years – by various visitors and expats why is restaurant and bar service in Bulgaria so bad. Waiters and waitresses, I am being told, are the worst in Europe. They are surly, slow, do not react to customer demands, and do not count out your change when they do not overcharge. They seem to be constantly angry.

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:58
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WHAT'S NOT IN A PICTURE

Britain has maintained diplomatic relations with Bulgaria (with interruptions, due to the First and the Second World Wars) since the beginning of the 20th Century, but until the 1960s its envoys were not named "ambassadors." After a series of agents, general consuls, political representatives, high commissioners and so on, the first "real" ambassador, Sir William Harpham, arrived in Sofia in 1962.

The ambassador had to present his credentials to the Bulgarian Government in full and formal diplomatic uniform on a day when the temperature was well below freezing point.

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 11:41
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