Maria Grachnova, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Bulgaria, Romania and Adriatics, on the advantages of the digital world for the modern business
At the beginning of the 1990s, when Bulgarian Communism had collapsed and the nation was gripped with pro-democracy fervour, Todor Kolev, this country's perhaps best known comedian actor, put out a song that instantly became a major hit. Loosely picking on the tune of The Beatles's Let It Be, Kolev set it to Bulgarian verse. Its refrain ran like this: "When will we catch up with the Americans?"
There are places in Bulgaria that ancient tradition or modern lore have turned into sites that attract not only people interested in beautiful landscapes and history, but also those who believe that they will discover something otherworldly there. Supposedly haunted villages and sites frequented by UFOs rub shoulders with "miraculous" springs and rocks, memories of dead clairvoyants and rumours of extraordinary events. To these, add in places venerated for centuries by unorthodox religious denominations or modern spiritual movements, plus locations that have inspired urban myths, and you will end up with a fascinating itinerary of mystic Bulgaria.
GERB are out of government at the national level, but many cities and towns in Bulgaria are still being run by GERB people, which means that ordinary folk in this country continue to get the sort of entertainment that has become characteristic for the GERB make-believe economy and services.
The name, Rachenitsa, may be too difficult for a foreigner to remember or pronounce, but you have probably seen it as a crude copy on the wall of a traditional restaurant, as a reproduction or a souvenir, or in the original in the National Gallery of Art. It is an image that stays in the mind. In a brightly-lit, austere tavern, a pair of men in traditional Bulgarian costume dance, surrounded by onlookers. Rachenitsa is a horo popular all over Bulgaria and is usually danced by one or two men, not holding hands, but on their own. Famous for its difficulty and the stamina required, in the olden times it was used as a competition between rival parties.
Ever since he touched a roll of black-and-white film, many years ago, Alexander Ivanov knew that his relationship with photography would be for life. Through the 1970s and 1980s Alexander Ivanov was one of this country's most innovative photographers. He was the mastermind of the association of photographers in his native Kazanlak, and his experiments in colour photography at the time brought him prestigious national and international photography awards.
In Bulgarian, the word Lakatnik means "elbow" and this place is named for a reason: at this point in its course through the Stara Planina mountains, the Iskar makes a sharp turn to the east and northeast, eventually reaching the Danube.
You are inside a major Medieval fort on a hill that many Bulgarians consider a national treasure as it suggest a glorious past. In fact, the fort was built from scratch in the 1930s. On top of the hill there is a tall Medieval church that was used by the patriarch before the Ottomans invaded in the 14th century. In fact it was constructed in the late 1970s.