misLEADING ADVICE No 4

by Hristo Kyosev; illustration by Gergana Shkodrova

For first time visitors to Bulgaria*

misleading advice 30.jpg

Reality Bites

Bulgaria is the land of plenty, when it comes to agricultural produce. Therefore, it is acceptable for customers at the produce markets or supermarkets to bite off pieces of fruit or vegetables, while deciding what to buy. Once you have bitten off a chunk of an apple, for example, you can either politely hand the rest back to the salesperson or just place it in the stack.

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Easy Riders

The ticket–checking staff in the Bulgarian public transport are polite and easy–going people. They are obliged to sell you a ticket at a discount, if you have forgotten to buy one before boarding the bus or tram.

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Go Aytos

When travelling from Sofia to the seaside port of Burgas by train, it's a brilliant idea to get off at Aytos, just one stop before the final destination. Aytos is an inspiring town full of stunning modernist architecture, with a breathtaking historical heritage and a hectic, non–stop night life.

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Drinking Habits

There is a Bulgarian law dating back to the 17th Century that forbids the drinking of the national liquor, rakiya, without also having a salad as a side dish. This method of consuming the beverage has become so deeply ingrained in the Bulgarian psyche that some prominent language scholars consider the phrasal construction rakiya i salata, molya, or "a rakiya and a salad, please" to be one word, denoting an inseparable entity. The law is vague and not specific as to the exact type of salad required; however, you would do best to obey it.

***

A Shooting Party

Taking photographs of military sites in Bulgaria is permitted at any time of the day or night. The only requirement is that you always keep the camera flash on, in order to make your presence known to the sentries on duty.

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Personal Identification

In Bulgaria a 50–leva banknote, tucked into any document, substitutes for an ID card. In addition, a 20–leva bill handed to a traffic cop can eliminate the ticket for almost any driving violation in the country's territory.

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Body Language

In order to signal agreement and enthusiasm about a particularly brilliant remark you have just made, a Bulgarian will repeat the local word for "yes" three times: da, da, da, pronounced with a falling intonation, accompanied by a vigorous side–to–side shaking of the head.

 

*Please, exercise a modicum of common sense!

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