Issue 137 https://www.vagabond.bg/ en TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS A SMOKE-FREE FUTURE https://www.vagabond.bg/transformation-towards-smoke-free-future-701 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS A SMOKE-FREE FUTURE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Nelly Tomova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:27</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria, on the biggest change in the history of the tobacco industry</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/George%20Margonis.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/George%20Margonis.jpg" width="800" height="533" alt="George Margonis.jpg" title="George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Probably the most impressive things we experience nowadays when we watch period movies and TV series, like Mad Men, is not the vintage fashion or the dated technology. It is watching all those people smoke. We are living in a world that is rapidly parting with the smell of burning tobacco, and with the health risks it brings. Astonishingly, one of the agents of change is a tobacco company. Philip Morris International is now building a smoke-free future, says George Margonis. He has almost 17 years of experience in the company, and in 2016 he became the general manager of its Bulgarian branch.</p> <p><strong><em>The tobacco industry is changing. How is Philip Morris addressing this? What changes have you implemented and what is your ambition for the future?</em></strong></p> <p>Nowadays, we all are participating in a consumer-led and technology driven product revolution, one that has the potential to improve people's quality of life, and Philip Morris International (PMI) is part of this process. We are glad that our company is leading the biggest shift in the history of the tobacco sector, and that we are driving the transformation of the industry with the development of smoke-free alternatives with the potential to make a difference for the millions of men and women who smoke.</p> <p>The history of tobacco trade dates back 500 years. In recent years public health experts, scientists and smokers have been looking for less harmful alternatives that could reduce health risks and benefit society at large. Today, many health experts agree that although nicotine is addictive, the main cause of smoking related diseases are the harmful chemicals generated by burning tobacco. The progress of technology and science today is helping to eliminate burning and provide millions of adult smokers around the world a new chance to enjoy tobacco by heating it, instead of burning.</p> <p>Today, the harm reduction concept is supported by many public health experts around the world and some authorities in a number of countries are open to the idea that smokers, who cannot or do not want to stop smoking, should be provided with better alternatives than traditional cigarettes.</p> <p>For more than a decade, we at PMI have focused our efforts and resources on the research and development of such better alternatives – innovative products that have the potential to reduce risk for adult smokers in comparison with continued smoking. There could hardly be a more ambitious and challenging goal for a leading tobacco company than to develop smoke-free products to replace cigarettes. This is our mission, and to put it into practice we have invested over $4.5 billion and involved more than 400 scientists, engineers and other experts to develop and assess our smoke-free products at the company's R&amp;D facilities in Switzerland and Singapore. This reaffirms our full commitment towards designing a smoke-free future.</p> <p><strong><em>Is smoke-free future possible and will smoke-free products replace cigarettes one day?</em></strong></p> <p>Innovations and new technologies are driving rapid changes in every aspect of economy and everyday life. Society's and consumers' expectations also change rapidly and therefore the tobacco industry has to adapt to meet adult consumer's needs for better reduced risk alternatives. It is very important to underline that our smoke-free products are not safe or risk-free. We also state clearly that the best way to reduce harm is to quit or never to start smoking.</p> <p>We strongly believe that our vision of a smoke-free future will be achieved using the principles of harm reduction. Some public health experts, authorities and regulators share the opinion that harm reduction concept can complement the existing tobacco control measures by making reduced risk alternatives available to the current adult smokers, who would otherwise continue to smoke. Bulgarian authorities, just like many others in the EU, have also progressed in this direction by creating a specific fiscal framework for the heated tobacco products. We at PMI believe that this is the right course of development for the whole industry to move towards a smoke-free future.</p> <p>It is encouraging that so far close to 5 million adult smokers around the world have stopped smoking and have switched to our innovative heated tobacco product IQOS. According to the latest data we have, approximately 10,000 smokers switch to IQOS every day. Since the end of last year Bulgaria is also part of the smoke-free journey together with 37 other markets, and Bulgarians have now access to revolutionary smoke-free products. So far the results for our heat-not-burn products from around the world are encouraging. In most of the markets where IQOS was launched, 70% to 80% of the smokers who purchased it, have fully or predominantly switched to it. This is very important – in order to reduce harm we need to offer not only products that have the potential to reduce risk, but at the same time the products that satisfy adult consumers' needs and are well perceived by them. The encouraging results reached so far give us the hope that one day we can phase-out conventional cigarettes. The significant investments in R&amp;D and over 10 years in scientific research behind our smoke-free products confirm our commitment towards this vision, and we are confident that one day these products can completely replace cigarettes.</p> <p><em><strong><img alt="George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V137/msrgonis/QJ1A3441.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria" width="70%" />What does science say about smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes?</strong></em></p> <p>Our smoke-free products are the result of robust scientific research in our complex multi-level scientific programme. Our scientific research is conducted following the highest international standards and it brings encouraging results on the reduced risk potential of the smoke-free products compared to cigarettes.</p> <p>Our own research and that of independent researchers confirm that there are significantly fewer harmful chemicals in IQOS vapour compared to cigarette smoke. Our toxicological assessment reveals that IQOS aerosol is significantly less toxic compared to cigarette smoke. Our clinical studies are ongoing, but results so far point in the direction of harm reduction. Encouragingly, in December last year, the UK Committee on Toxicity reviewed our research data in its assessment of IQOS and stated that the exposure to compounds of concern in using heat-not-burn tobacco products is reduced compared to that from conventional cigarette smoke and it is likely that there is a reduction in overall risk to health for conventional smokers who switch to heat-not-burn tobacco products. Public Health England relied in part on the committee's review for its report published earlier this year. Scientific substantiation takes time of course. We continue further research and development and have made our data available on our website <a href="https://www.pmiscience.com/introduction" rel="noopener" target="_blank">www.pmiscience.com</a>, and we encourage independent scientific verification by third parties.</p> <p><strong><em>Last month Scuderia Ferrari announced that they will continue their partnership with Philip Morris International. Could you tell us more about this collaboration?</em></strong></p> <p>Indeed, after 40 years of successful collaboration with Scuderia Ferrari, we have decided to extend our partnership until 2021 with an exclusive focus on our vision to advance a smoke-free world. Our plan does not include any product-specific communications. We believe that this is a great opportunity to create global awareness on the idea of a smoke-free world, in which all people who would otherwise continue smoking cigarettes will switch to scientifically substantiated less harmful smoke-free alternatives. We are fully committed towards this idea and we will use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari's support in this cause, and we believe that this is the best partner for this challenge, as it harnesses a pioneering spirit, science, technology and innovation in a relentless pursuit of great ambitions.</p> <p><em><strong>The material was conducted with the cooperation of Philip Morris Bulgaria</strong></em></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/interviews" hreflang="en">BULGARIA INTERVIEWS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=701&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="xnAP0Hg2PHjOsM7nI5baus8iGG3oBjlPgzsaKpPWUMw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:27:12 +0000 DimanaT 701 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/transformation-towards-smoke-free-future-701#comments WHO THE F*CK IS GINKA? https://www.vagabond.bg/who-fck-ginka-702 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHO THE F*CK IS GINKA?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:26</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Under GERB, life in Bulgaria becomes increasingly absurd as exemplified by the "purchase" of CEZ, the power distribution company that controls the electricity grid of the whole of western Bulgaria, including the capital, Sofia, by a heretofore totally unknown woman, whose first name, Ginka, quickly turned into a byword for graft, corruption and behind-the-scenes deals.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/elon%20musk.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/elon%20musk.jpg" width="800" height="394" alt="elon musk.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Ginka Varbakova from Pazardzhik, who allegedly had not graduated secondary school, operated a couple of solar power installations plus a few car parks in her native Pazardzhik before the news broke out that she would acquire the assets of CEZ, the Czech-owned electricity distribution company on which millions of Bulgarians depend on for their electricity.</p> <p>Why CEZ decided to sell its business in Bulgaria remains unclear, but there are reports that the Czechs no longer wanted to be doing business in what is considered the most corrupt country in the EU.</p> <p>Ever distrustful of their rulers and of the official "news" being beamed at them from television screens, Bulgarians were quick to see yet another (major) instance of graft and wrongdoing being committed on their taxpaying backs. Many thought Mrs Ginka was just a front, a "fuse," as the Bulgarians saying goes, to cover up the really rich and powerful of the day.</p> <p>Ginka appeared on a major TV station, which was recently bought by another Czech, to explain herself. She happily asserted she was a millionaire and she assured the viewing public that she was the "end buyer" of CEZ, adding she was unable to name her creditors owing to a confidentiality clause.</p> <p>In the meantime a Czech newspaper, Lidove noviny, reported much of the cash needed to acquire CEZ came from offshore funds, some of which had been the subject of the so-called Paradise Papers.</p> <p>Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, a long-standing "friend" of Ginka, resigned.</p> <p>Sensing yet another huge scandal coming on, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov stepped in and ordered a "full" investigation of Mrs Varbakova's business operations.</p> <p>Elon Musk in California, in the meanwhile, sent out the tweet appearing above. Bulgarians will never lose their sense of humour, not as long as they continue to be paying premium prices for their electricity.</p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/joke-of-the-month" hreflang="en">JOKE OF THE MONTH</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=702&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="bggHDqByy80RSybfhoAadpZSxbL76t3CNjuiUgbNAWk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:26:19 +0000 DimanaT 702 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/who-fck-ginka-702#comments REBIRTH OF BULGARIAN FASCISM https://www.vagabond.bg/rebirth-bulgarian-fascism-703 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">REBIRTH OF BULGARIAN FASCISM</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:25</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>As Bulgaria goes on holding the rotating presidency of the EU and the Bulgarian leaders are extra cautious not to do anything that might tarnish their avowedly pro-European image, local as well as international Nazis marched through Sofia to commemorate the day of the assassination of a Bulgarian general, Hristo Lukov, the leader of the ultranationalist Bulgarian National Legions Union, the local war-time equivalent of Nazi Germany's Hitlerjugend.</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Who was Gen Lukov? A First World War hero, he was war minister in the 1930s but fell out with the king and retired just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. In 1942 he became the leader of the Bulgarian National Legions Union. He was assassinated by a hit squad of Communists the following year. Under Communism, Hristo Lukov was a non-person. His name was rarely mentioned in the history books because the Communists feared he might be glorified as a symbol of anti-Communism.</p> <p>However, with the collapse of the regime in 1989, Lukov quickly emerged from the dustbin of history. Like other former East bloc nations, Bulgaria started searching for a new identity in Europe post the Cold War, and like other former East bloc nations many Bulgarians looked into their interwar history for inspiration. Without a doubt Gen Lukov had been a formidable figure, a monster to Communists of all shades and hues, and someone who apparently stood a good chance of rousing the historical pride of the impoverished Bulgaria of the 1990s. His Nazi inclinations and his anti-Semitism did not seem to matter.</p> <p>Those were the beginnings of the Lukov March. Twenty years later, a number of extremist groupings bearing ominous names such as the Bulgarian National Union, National Resistance, Blood and Honour (banned in a number of European countries), joined by various skinhead and football fan groupings, now hold an annual "Lukov March" through the streets of Sofia. They usually get a sanction for their gathering by the Sofia City Council. In 2018, obviously owing to the EU presidency that is being used for domestic propaganda purposes, the City Council refused to give their blessing, probably under pressure as a variety of local and international organisations, including the World Jewish Congress, protested. But a court overruled and pronounced the rally legal.<br />It is important to note that Lukov and his ilk are not venerated by unabashed neo-Nazis alone. A motley but vocal group of people, some of them considering themselves to belong to the intellectual elite and many identifying themselves as anti-Communist democrats, genuinely consider Lukov to be a "patriot" rather than a fascist. They are joined by a number of historians of varied competence and political affiliations who produce "evidence" that Lukov and his troops were not anti-Semitic but were mainly concerned with the welfare of Bulgarians, including those in Macedonia.</p> <p>Even mainstream political parties such as GERB sometimes manifest their anti-Communism by parading nonagenarian former members of the Bulgarian National Legions Union, billing them as true anti-Communist democrats. One of them, who describes Hitler as a "fiery orator" in a video clip circulating the Internet, was even taken to the European Parliament by a GERB MP known for his being an outspoken anti-Communist.</p> <p>Probably the worst side effect of this kind of rebirth of Bulgarian fascism can be seen in the media. For a variety of reasons many anchors and reporters have served as the mouthpiece of Lukov's champions. In this way they have made Nazism debatable as political opponents argue in TV studios whether Lukov was a fascist or patriot.</p> <p>The Lukov March is but one indication of the rebirth of Bulgarian fascism. While Boyko Borisov's GERB, which has ruled Bulgaria almost uninterruptedly since 2009, distances itself from the more extremist standpoints of Lukov's supporters, it has nurtured extremism and ultranationalism in their more publicly acceptable forms. In fact, Boyko Borisov's third term in office as prime minister was made possible by his alliance with three extreme nationalist parties: the VMRO, or Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation, the NFSB, or National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, and the notorious Ataka. In fact, this country's deputy prime minister, Valeri Simeonov, is the leader of the NFSB. His language alone dwarfs the whole of the Le Pen family collectively.</p> <p>Bulgaria in 2018 ticks most of the early warning boxes. Its nationalism has been powerful and continuing. Its disdain for human rights has gained notoriety especially when it comes to people at risk, such as asylum seekers and Gypsies. Sexism is rampant, and so is intolerance to anyone who is different – as displayed by the acrimonious debate preceding the failed ratification of the Istanbul Convention for the Prevention of Violence Against Women. Like never before, the Orthodox Church takes political stands that are predictably pro-Russian and ultraconservative. Cronyism and corruption are rampant. The media are subservient and controlled. Any talk of checks and balances on the unlimited powers of those in power, including the current prime minister, is but a joke. As Antoniy Todorov, a professor of political science, warns, in this climate virulent anti-Communism can easily turn into fascism.</p> <p>Europe, in the meantime, is looking the other way. Had this been Austria, where the extremist Freedom Party is now part of the governing coalition, there would have been an outrage. But this is Bulgaria. For what it is, the Bulgarians'd better be left to their own devices as long as they host the EU presidency meetings.</p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/politics" hreflang="en">BULGARIA POLITICS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=703&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="5Gs4LLplw2pI6V0_g1NkHJZcp_Pq1nqM5ntXnnnzfQ0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:25:09 +0000 DimanaT 703 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/rebirth-bulgarian-fascism-703#comments WHICH BULGARIAN MOUNTAIN IS HOME OF A PARTICULAR OAK SPECIES? https://www.vagabond.bg/which-bulgarian-mountain-home-particular-oak-species-704 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHICH BULGARIAN MOUNTAIN IS HOME OF A PARTICULAR OAK SPECIES?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Bozhidara Georgieva</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:22</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Think you know Bulgaria and the Bulgarians? Take our test to doublecheck</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/oaks.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/oaks.jpg" width="800" height="215" alt="oaks.jpg " title="Particular oak species" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Anthony Georgieff</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>1. Bulgaria's heraldic animal is...</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> An eagle<br /><strong>B.</strong> A horse<br /><strong>C.</strong> A lion</p> <p><strong>2. What is <em>Boza</em>?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> A sweet beverage<br /><strong>B.</strong> The name of computers made in Communist Bulgaria<br /><strong>C.</strong> A colloquial name for Bulgaria's political life</p> <p><strong>3. Which is Bulgaria's oldest existing political party?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> SDS, or Union of the Democratic Forces<br /><strong>B.</strong> DPS, or Movement for Rights and Freedoms<br /><strong>C.</strong> BSP, or Bulgarian Socialist Party</p> <p><strong>4. In Bulgarian tradition, which month is considered to be "female"?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> February<br /><strong>B.</strong> March<br /><strong>C.</strong> April</p> <p><strong>5. Which is Bulgaria's largest church?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> St Aleksandr Nevskiy, Sofia<br /><strong>B.</strong> Assumption of the Mother of Christ, Varna<br /><strong>C.</strong> St Dimitar, Vidin</p> <p><strong>6. Which Bulgarian mountain is home of a particular oak species?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> The Rila<br /><strong>B.</strong> The Strandzha<br /><strong>C.</strong> The Osogovo</p> <p><strong>7. Where is the Asenova Fortress?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> In the Stara Planina<br /><strong>B.</strong> In the Rhodope<br /><strong>C.</strong> On the Vitosha</p> <p><strong>8. When was Bulgaria's Revival Period?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> In the interwar period<br /><strong>B.</strong> In the 19th century<br /><strong>C.</strong> In the 9th century</p> <p><strong>9. The name of which Bulgarian city means "Wisdom"?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> Sofia<br /><strong>B.</strong> Ruse<br /><strong>C.</strong> Varna</p> <p> </p> <p><em>The correct answers to the questions:</em></p> <p><strong>1.</strong> – C; <strong>2.</strong> – A; <strong>3.</strong> – C; <strong>4.</strong> – B; <strong>5.</strong> – A; <strong>6.</strong> – B; <strong>7.</strong> – B; <strong>8.</strong> – B; <strong>9.</strong> – A.</p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/bulgaria-s-monthly-quiz" hreflang="en">BULGARIA&#039;S MONTHLY QUIZ</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=704&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="4DDn2-erqWK1WlTvPRy2FquXRNxkp0jp5y23iNBmWvo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:22:18 +0000 DimanaT 704 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/which-bulgarian-mountain-home-particular-oak-species-704#comments EMBASSY RECIPES https://www.vagabond.bg/embassy-recipes-705 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">EMBASSY RECIPES</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:14</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>British Ambassador Emma Hopkins shares her favourite Bulgarian recipes</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/emma%20hoplins.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/emma%20hoplins.jpg" width="800" height="535" alt="emma hoplins.jpg " title="Emma Hopkins" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Anthony Georgieff</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Emma Hopkins OBE was appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to Bulgaria in May 2015. Since then, she has been exploring Bulgaria, its people, culture, landmarks and, last but not least, its cuisine. She openly professes her love for Bulgarian food and adds with a smile: "I prefer Bulgarian vegetables, because they are more delicious than UK ones."</p> <p>With the help and expertise of the British Residence's staff, Ambassador Hopkins has also been learning to cook traditional Bulgarian dishes. Cooking Bulgarian food gave her an idea for a creative outlet and, since August, the British Embassy in Sofia has created a series of videos on its social media channels dedicated to Bulgarian cuisine. In them, Ambassador Emma Hopkins shares her favourite Bulgarian dishes and how they are prepared. The dishes covered so far are: <em>Gyuvetch</em>, <em>Lozovi Sarmi</em> and <em>Mlechna Banitsa</em>.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><em>Gyuvetch</em></strong></p> <p><em>One of the ambassador's and her children's favourites is </em>Gyuvetch<em>. Some of the vegetables used in the video are even grown in the Residence's garden.</em></p> <p><strong><img title="Emma Hopkins, OBE" src="/images/stories/V137/emma_hopklins/IMG_2830.jpg" alt="Emma Hopkins, OBE" width="100%" />Ingredients</strong><br />600 gr pork tenderloin<br />300 gr green beans<br />2 medium sized onions<br />4 medium-sized tomatoes<br />1 garlic cloves<br />500 gr potatoes<br />1 eggplant<br />parsley<br />thyme<br />250 gr tomato sauce<br />salt &amp; pepper to taste</p> <p><strong>Preparation</strong><br />Cut the pork into cubes or small pieces and fry in a pan with a little oil for about 5 minutes or until brown. Add the vegetables and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt/pepper to taste and cook for another 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200° C. Transfer the content of the pan into a baking dish and cook for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and thyme before serving.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><strong>Lozovi Sarmi</strong></em></p> <p>Lozovi Sarmi<em> is a traditional Bulgarian dish made of vine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables. The vine leaves used in the video are freshly cut from the Residence's vine.</em></p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Lozovi sarmi" src="/images/stories/V137/emma_hopklins/IMG_2576.jpg" alt="Lozovi sarmi" width="70%" /></p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong><br />15 -20 vine leaves<br />1 medium-sized onion<br />1 or 2 carrots<br />1 medium-sized tomato<br />200 gr rice<br />parsley<br />olive oil<br />salt &amp; pepper to taste</p> <p><strong>Preparation</strong><br />Steam the grape leaves. Finely chop the onion, carrots and tomatoes. Fry the onion and carrots in the oil on low heat until brown, add the rice and water. Boil until the water is absorbed and add the herbs. Use the mixture to fill the leaves, wrapping them very tightly like small bundles. Put them in a pot, fill with water so the bundles are fully submerged and boil for about 45 minutes at 170° C. Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven in a casserole pan full of water. Lozovi Sarmi are best when served with some yoghurt on top.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><strong>Mlechna Banitsa</strong></em></p> <p>Mlechna Banitsa <em>is a typical Bulgarian dessert which is made with custard and broken filo pastry.</em></p> <p><strong><img title="Mlechna Banitsa" src="/images/stories/V137/emma_hopklins/IMG_2789.jpg" alt="Mlechna Banitsa" width="100%" />Ingredients</strong> <br />6 eggs <br />180 g sugar<br />100 g butter<br />100 g filo pastry<br />1 l milk<br />Vanilla extract</p> <p><strong>Preparation</strong><br />The baking pan is coated with butter and the bottom is covered with 2 sheets of filo pastry. The remaining sheets are crushed in medium sized pieces on top. The baking pan goes into an oven for 15 minutes at 170 C. Break the eggs in a bowl, then add the sugar and whisk well until you get a smooth mixture. Add the milk and mix once again to make the custard. Pour the mixture over the filo pastry and add cubes of butter on top in order for it to brown off once it's in the oven. Put in the oven again, this time for 30 minutes at 170 C. The dish is served chilled with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.</p> <p><strong>You can find the first three episodes of Embassy Recipes on the Embassy's <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/UKinBulgaria/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Facebook</a></span> and <a href="https://twitter.com/UKinBulgaria?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Twitter</a> accounts @UKinBulgaria.</strong></p> <p><img title="British Embassy in Bulgaria garden" src="/images/stories/V137/emma_hopklins/IMG_2862.jpg" alt="British Embassy in Bulgaria garden" width="100%" /></p> <p> </p> <p><img title="British Embassy in Bulgaria garden" src="/images/stories/V137/emma_hopklins/IMG_2865.jpg" alt="British Embassy in Bulgaria garden" width="100%" /></p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/298" hreflang="en">Bulgarian cuisine</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/299" hreflang="en">Bulgarian food</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/good-to-know" hreflang="en">GOOD TO KNOW</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=705&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="rASjs_vyA90mb-74umTOp4GaXjOutZpwhwwr09hAEPY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:14:49 +0000 DimanaT 705 at https://www.vagabond.bg QUOTE-UNQUOTE https://www.vagabond.bg/quote-unquote-706 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">QUOTE-UNQUOTE</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:14</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><blockquote> <p>Sofia is now cleaner than Vienna.</p> </blockquote> <p>Minister of Culture <strong>Boil Banov</strong></p> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><blockquote> <p>Few petty crimes in Sofia are solved, because the perpetrators live outside the capital.</p> </blockquote> <p>Sofia Police chief <strong>Ivaylo Ivanov</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>Bulgarians founded Russia, so we need to take care of it as our subsidiary state.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Volen Siderov</strong>, leader of Ataka</p> <blockquote> <p>If corruption in Bulgaria is so big, how come GERB always wins elections?</p> </blockquote> <p>Prime Minister <strong>Boyko Borisov</strong> at the European Parliament</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/quote-unquote" hreflang="en">QUOTE-UNQUOTE</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=706&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="tUZbGiuX2EeauJqdCjQUoS4Ucq1kCysV1u7fX5gViIg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:14:07 +0000 DimanaT 706 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/quote-unquote-706#comments FOR A COUPLE OF LIONS' HIDES https://www.vagabond.bg/couple-lions-hides-707 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">FOR A COUPLE OF LIONS&#039; HIDES</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:12</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Prime Minister saves cubs from zoo</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Under GERB, Bulgaria's public has become accustomed to scandals of various magnitude that come and go about every second day, sometimes several times a day. Outrageous statements often generated by fake news make headlines for a few hours and electrify the public's attention only to be overshadowed by the next scandal that may be even more outrageous than the previous one. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov likes to put his hand (or his foot, as the situation warrants) in everything from police investigations to football and natural as well as man-made disasters, and the result is usually seen by many as callous at best and horrendous at worst. These scandals often question the existence of a genuine civil society in the Bulgaria outside of Facebook that is ready to act if the interest of the public so demands.</p> <p>What has been going on in recent weeks with the ado generated by the failure to approve the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence can easily outshine all of the previous year, but few "scandals" have been odder than Boyko Borisov's involvement with… two lion cubs.</p> <p>Two lion cubs? In the autumn of 2017 a lioness in the Razgrad city zoo gave birth to three cubs. One of them died as a result of substandard care and lack of proper conditions. The other two scrambled to survive.</p> <p>The Razgrad City Council, acting following pressure from citizens, decided to send Masoud and Terez to Sofia. In Sofia, a couple of NGOs, Four Paws and Wild Animals, took over and cared for the cubs for months.</p> <p>The plight of the duo grabbed the attention of the nation in an unprecedented outpour of sympathy and even cash donations. Yet Masoud and Terez were still at risk as this country lacks the equipment and expertise to handle baby wildlife. So, the two cubs would be sent to the Netherlands. Upon reaching maturity, they would be reintroduced to a lions' shelter in South Africa.</p> <p>However, the Razgrad City Council got other ideas. Its councillors approved a plan to donate Masoud and Terez to the zoo in… Pazardzhik – despite the fact that it too lacked the facilities to handle young lions. Razgrad's decision was backed by Environment Minister Neno Dimov. The usual media frenzy ensued, but with an unexpected twist. A major newspaper ran a surreal headline, "Green Octopus Steals Bulgarian Lions," as the "octopus" being viewed was the environmentalist movement collectively. A TV channel accused the environmentalists and animal welfare activists of trying to deprive Pazardzhik children from a pair of cute little lions. Social network trolls were activated. They suggested the wildlife welfare NGOs had a sinister plan to sell Masoud and Terez for "millions" of dollars to South Africa where the two, which belonged to Bulgaria and Bulgaria alone, would be hunted down by Western tourists.</p> <p>The NGOs responded by organising a rally and requesting Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to intervene personally. Following his unfailing propensity for spotting a chance to boost his own popularity, Borisov agreed. A few days later, Masoud and Terez landed in the Netherlands in spite of a previous refusal by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency to issue travel permits for the two lions.</p> <p>The lion cubs episode exemplifies two things. Neither of them is particularly complementary to Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency.</p> <p>A significant number of people rose up in arms to defend the lions, but their civic valour and manifested compassion was hardly a triumph for the Bulgarian civil society. Masoud and Terez garnered greater public support than far more pressing matters such as the fight against corruption, the low standard of living, the sorry state of the Bulgarian media under GERB, the insufficient funding for cancer medication and the inability or unwillingness of the current rulers to implement judicial reforms. Thus, the plight of the two lions only illuminated the deep division lines breaking Bulgarian society in 2018.</p> <p>And then there was Boyko Borisov's intervention. As it was actively sought by the protesters, it signalled another truism. In modern Bulgaria, the rule of law and the division of powers don't really matter. In order to get anything done in this country, you have to obtain the blessing of none lesser than the prime minister personally. If he senses a profit for himself or a chance to boost his standing, he will gladly comply.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/261" hreflang="en">Boyko Borisov</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/society" hreflang="en">BULGARIA SOCIETY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=707&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="F1LcSRP-G64_r9mOSoaR0OTcAFXG_NGUOAK6QiUINJE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:12:52 +0000 DimanaT 707 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/couple-lions-hides-707#comments WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU? https://www.vagabond.bg/where-bulgaria-are-you-708 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:11</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>It is unclear when lions were last seen in Europe, but a number of European countries have adopted the lion as an integral part of their coats-of-arms and national symbolism.</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/where%20in%20bulgaria%20are%20you%20137.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/where%20in%20bulgaria%20are%20you%20137.jpg" width="533" height="800" alt="where in bulgaria are you 137.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Anthony Georgieff</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Bulgaria is in the company of Britain, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Finland, Georgia and a number of others to feature lions on its heraldry, and lions of all shapes and sizes decorate various public spaces in towns and villages. Some of them are 19th century and were erected after the 1878 independence. Some belong to newer times, including the Communist period. Many were made by professional artists commissioned by local authorities, but others were chiseled by amateurs whose sense of national pride and patriotism sometimes outperformed their proclivity for sculpting. The one featured here is one of the best examples of a 19th century Bulgarian lion standing in the middle of the central square of a large town.</p> <p><em><strong>Where in Bulgaria are you?</strong></em></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/where-in-bulgaria" hreflang="en">WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=708&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="VDAnOZQlDKClXEBTc8gUuR9jlYQ6S21j61k-OLfnpw0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:11:13 +0000 DimanaT 708 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/where-bulgaria-are-you-708#comments TOP 10 PLACES AND EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN BULGARIA IN 2018 https://www.vagabond.bg/top-10-places-and-events-not-miss-bulgaria-2018-709 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">TOP 10 PLACES AND EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN BULGARIA IN 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:02</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Choosing your next travel destination in Bulgaria is tough. If you are yet to become acquainted with this country, it is easy to get lost in all the opportunities.</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/wild%20peony.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/wild%20peony.jpg" width="800" height="532" alt="wild peony.jpg" title="Wild peonies at Yaylata Plateau" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Fear not, and brace for some destinations that deserve visiting – and bear revisiting.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Yaylata Plateau when the peonies bloom</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Yaylata plateau, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/04052013-1401.jpg" alt="Yaylata plateau, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> The northern Black Sea coast near Kamen Bryag village</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Yaylata is hands-down the most picturesque part of Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. The plateau of rugged reddish cliffs rises 60m above the sea, an enthralling if a bit scary patchwork of rocks, coves, prehistoric rock graves and a late-Antiquity fortress. The plateau's wildlife is a match to its beauty. Yaylata is the southernmost part of the great Eurasian steppes, and is a home to a diversity that only the meeting of marine and steppe habitats can provide. It is also at a major bird migratory route.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> Yaylata is worth visiting year round. Its severe beauty, however, becomes gentler in late May and early June, when wild peonies are in full bloom.</p> <p>Blooming wild peonies on Yaylata Plateau</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Nestinari Firewalkers</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Firewalkers, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/030617-1632.jpg" alt="Firewalkers, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> Balgari Village, in the Strandzha</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> For many years the inhabitants of the Strandzha mountain have celebrated the feast of the Sts Constantine and Helena with a peculiar rite. The icons of the saints get solemnly taken for a "bath" in a sacred spring. In the evening, men and women, called Nestinari, take them in their hands. Under the mesmerising sound of a bagpipe and a drum, they enter a large circle made of living embers. Then they dance, barefoot. They leave the circle unscathed. Due to the modernisation and depopulation of the Strandzha, the authentic Nestinari tradition is now practiced mostly in the village of Balgari, on 3 June. All other Nestinari dances you might see in traditional restaurants along the Black Sea coast and elsewhere are a tourist trap.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> If watching people dancing barefoot in living embers is not inspiring enough for you, nothing will be.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Buzludzha House and Memorial of the Bulgarian Communist Party</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Buzludzha House and Memorial of the Bulgarian Communist Party" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/200517-7099.jpg" alt="Buzludzha House and Memorial of the Bulgarian Communist Party" width="100%" />Where:</strong> Near Shipka Pass in the Stara Planina</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> In 1981, the Bulgarian Communist Party celebrated the 90th anniversary of its establishment with a project that should symbolically have cemented its eternal power over Bulgarians. Atop one of Stara Planina's peaks it erected a monument designed to awe and to be seen from far and away, with a large circular hall and a 70-metre-tall pylon of exposed concrete. No cash was spared for the effort. Less than 10 years had passed since completion, however, when history radically changed. In 1989, democracy "arrived" in Bulgaria. The Buzludzha monument was abandoned and vandalised. It remains so, a poignant symbol of the failure, not the eternal glory, of Communism.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> How often can you see in real life one of the atmospheric, dystopian ruins in the World's Best Abandoned Buildings lists that are all over Bored Panda and its ilk?</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Elenska Basilica</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Elenska Basilica, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/240416-6597.jpg" alt="Elenska Basilica, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> By the E871 road, between the town of Pirdop and Anton Village</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Unexciting is an obloquy one can easily attach to Pirdop. Just outside this drab town, however, you will find one of the best preserved and least visited late-Antiquity monuments in Bulgaria. When Christianity spread in these parts of what at the time was the Byzantine Empire, a large church was built in this location. Later, it became the centre of a monastery that existed until the Ottomans destroyed it in the 17th century. What remains of the church still stuns: mighty brick-and-mortar arches rising among lush undergrowth against the backdrop of the Stara Planina mountain.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> The ruins are picturesque, melancholic and deserted most of the time.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Sunny Beach</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Sunny Beach, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/290517-8169.jpg" alt="Sunny Beach, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> South of Cape Emine and north of Nesebar</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> What started in the 1950s as a leafy seaside resort for East bloc tourists developed, in the 2000s, into something modelled on Las Vegas and Ibiza but with a strong Russian twist. At present, no one knows how many people can stay at the same time at Sunny Beach, but what is known is that the booze prices are amongst the lowest in Europe. Consequently, the party is never-ending. Do not even think of coming if you want a few quiet days at the Black Sea. You will not get any. But you will see casinos that dwarf Taipei, an ostentatious display of wealth, the latest car models and a swooning collection of fake blondes and silicon body parts.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> For a hate-it-or-love-it experience that you are unlikely to get anywhere else in Europe.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Zimzelen and the Eastern Rhodope</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Rock phenomenon, Eastern Rhodope, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/02112012-0180-HDR.jpg" alt="Rock phenomenon, Eastern Rhodope, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> Near Kardzhali</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> The Eastern Rhodope cannot compete with the Western Rhodope in terms of majestic landscapes. Its slopes are rolling rather than rising, and bald rather than thickly forested. However, in the Eastern Rhodope you will find plenty of archaeology as well as some fascinating rock formations. The Petrified Wedding, near the village of Zimzelen, is the most popular of those. According to the legend, a whole wedding party turned into stone pillars when the father of the groom took a fancy on the young bride. The Stone Mushrooms, near the village of Beli Plast, is another example of geology run wild.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> For the impromptu Rorschach test.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Vidin</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Vidin, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/011217-1.jpg" alt="Vidin, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> On the Danube</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Today you will be hard-pressed to find a decent restaurant in Vidin, as the city is yet to recover from the post-1989 depopulation and stagnating economy. However, Vidin abounds with remains of its past as the mediaeval centre that produced the Shishmans, Bulgaria's last royal dynasty before the Ottomans, and as a busy port syphoning 19th century European culture into this country. Vidin is a place for nice walks along the Danube and among melancholy early-20th century houses still protected by an Ottoman fortification. The Baba Vida fortress, repeatedly restructured and rebuilt by the Romans, the Bulgarians and the Ottomans, is the city's major sight, but don't miss the crumbling neo-Gothic synagogue nearby and the mosque of a maverick Ottoman warlord, Osman Pazvantoglu.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> Vidin is full of things to discover. Like the monument of a soldier in front the railway station who, although victorious, is crestfallen by the bloodshed of war.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Veliko Tarnovo</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Veliko Tarnovo" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/160417-2.jpg" alt="Veliko Tarnovo" width="100%" />Where:</strong> Central northern Bulgaria</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Rising on the steep hills lining the meanders of the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo hardly needs an introduction. Its impossible topography accommodates traditional 19th century architecture, elegant early-20th century buildings, and much restored and mostly fake mediaeval forts and turrets. Veliko Tarnovo's splendour as the mediaeval capital of Bulgaria, the tragedy of its fall under the Ottomans, and its role as a hotbed of national revival have granted the city a special place in the hearts of Bulgarians. Foreigners like it, too, for its beauty, laid-back atmosphere and generally good restaurants.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> Braving Tarnovo's lanes and hills at least once is a must for everyone who wants to know the true Bulgaria.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Sitovo Inscription</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Mysterious rock inscription, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/08082009-1190880.jpg" alt="Mysterious rock inscription, Bulgaria" width="100%" />Where:</strong> Near Sitovo village, the Rhodope</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Are they manmade? If yes, what do they say? These questions will inevitably pop in your head while you are looking at the enigmatic rune-like signs adorning a rock in the Rhodope. You are neither the first nor the last person left wondering. Since the inscription's discovery in 1928, its authorship has been attributed to the ancient Thracians, the Celts, the Goths (the people, not the subculture), the Sarmatians, the Slavs and so on. Their meaning (if there is any) is equally elusive: some say they reveal the whereabouts of a hidden treasure, or are an early-Christian text, or even open a gate into space and time, whatever that means.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> For the mystery.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Boyana Church</strong></p> <p><strong><img title="Boyana Church" src="/images/stories/V137/top10/24012010-1460137Cropped.jpg" alt="Boyana Church" width="70%" />Where:</strong> Boyana neighbourhood in Sofia</p> <p><strong>What:</strong> Built and rebuilt in the 10th-13th centuries, this small church is unassuming from the outside. Inside, however, you will find fascinating murals including masterful portraits of the church's donors, Sofia ruler Kaloyan and his wife Desislava. The gentle humanness of their faces breaks from the Byzantine tradition of icon painting and has spawned the theory that the Boyana murals predated Italian Renaissance. If only the Ottomans weren't about to invade Bulgaria, smashing forever these gentle tendrils of modern civilisation (the popular thought goes), Bulgaria would have been the cradle of Europe's revival! This makes the Boyana Church the most beautiful manifestation of this nation's inferiority complex based on real or imagined historical mishaps.</p> <p><strong>Why visit?</strong> Even if you doubt the Renaissance belief, the frescoes are truly marvellous and the churchyard with its sequoia trees is a delight after Sofia's air pollution.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=709&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="zSApqyQr9eo56ViOeEahyX6xxG1PFzNG_qdqDQ-xxtY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:02:48 +0000 DimanaT 709 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/top-10-places-and-events-not-miss-bulgaria-2018-709#comments BEGLIKTASH, A MEGALITH IN WINTER https://www.vagabond.bg/begliktash-megalith-winter-710 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BEGLIKTASH, A MEGALITH IN WINTER</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 03/06/2018 - 14:57</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Tourist crowds tend to spoil places and Begliktash is not an exception. Located near Primorsko, on Bulgaria's crowded southern Black Sea coast, the Thracian megalithic shrine gets crammed in the holiday season.</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/begliktash.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/begliktash.jpg" width="800" height="533" alt="begliktash.jpg " title="Huge boulders define the Begliktash Thracian shrine, providing fodder to the theory that the megaliths were &quot;moved&quot; to their location in Antiquity. In reality, the &quot;complex&quot; is a natural phenomenon" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>There are package tourists, there are independent visitors, and there are garish and sometimes rather kitschy reenactments of ancient Thracian rituals organised by the local authorities.</p> <p>We are yet to learn (but probably never will) what the actual ancient Thracian rituals were like. The people that inhabited what is now Bulgaria from the 2nd millennium BC to Late Antiquity left no written heritage about their life, beliefs and gods. The only remaining witnesses of it are biased and/or misinformed Greek and Roman sources, a handful of rituals surviving in Bulgarian traditional culture, like the Nestinari firewalking, some amazing gold treasures and tombs, and a number of rock sanctuaries.<br />Begliktash is among the most impressive. Come in winter and you will find it austere, magnificent and full with the atmosphere it lacks with the summer crowds of tourists, history buffs and amateur actors stuttering to portray priests and priestesses.</p> <p>Begliktash stands in a meadow that opens up dramatically before you after a 40-minute walk through the oak forest of the Strandzha. Scattered seemingly at random, like the abandoned building blocks of a giant baby, some of the rocks which make up Begliktash weigh up to 150 tonnes.</p> <p>While millennia ago the Thracians used the site as a shrine, under the Ottomans it already meant no more to the local people than the rocks, or Taşlar, where the Beglik, or sheep tax, was collected. Hence the name Begliktash.</p> <p>The site was first discovered by Czech historian and archaeologist Karel Škorpil at the end of the 19th century. However, the wider public only became aware of the existence of this fascinating place as late as the early 2000s. The reason? During Communism, Begliktash was in the grounds of the Perla Residence, the off-limits hunting-and-vacation resort for high-ranking Communist apparatchiks.</p> <p>The first excavations of Begliktash began in 2003. Most of the artefacts pointed to fertility rites, solar and chthonic cults: stone axes, ceramic fragments, flint knives and arrows, charred deer bones. The researchers also tried to identify the different parts of the sanctuary and to give them meaning. Besides the hollows of ritual basins and canals over the surface of the sanctuary, some of the rocks and boulders were interpreted as being an altar, a throne, a menhir, a dolmen. A huge flat rock was identified as the bed where the priest would perform sacred sex in a ritual aimed at reviving nature. The so-called Great Dolmen, an imposing structure – 12m long, 9m wide and 5m high – is believed to be a royal tomb.</p> <p title="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria"><img title="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/begliktash/050117-2656.jpg" alt="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" width="100%" /></p> <p>As in other places connected with the Thracian heritage, many historians disagree with these interpretations, but the claims are so fascinating that, combined with the sheer size of the boulders, they turned Begliktash into one of the most popular Thracian shrines in the country. Today the site is widely advertised as "The Bulgarian Stonehenge," repeated ad nauseam by tourist websites, blogs and the sensationalist media.</p> <p>But did the ancient Thracians really make Begliktash, collecting the huge rocks from all over the forest to create an elaborate megalithic complex?</p> <p>Well, actually not. Begliktash is a natural phenomenon. The Thracians made their shrine there only because they were impressed by it and saw in it the manifestation of divine powers.</p> <p><img title="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/begliktash/050117-2592.jpg" alt="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" width="100%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Under Communism, Begliktash was a part of the Perla government residence where the Bulgarian Communist Party elite used to holiday and hunt. The shrine was off-limits to ordinary Bulgarians</em></p> <p> </p> <p><img title="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/begliktash/050117-2666.jpg" alt="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" width="100%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The boulder to the left was cut in two under Communism, when someone decided that it was an excellent source for... pavement stones</em></p> <p> </p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" src="/images/stories/V137/begliktash/050117-2686.jpg" alt="Begliktash Thracian megalith, Bulgaria" width="70%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em> According to modern legends told and retold by tour guides, only people without sin (or excess weight, or claustrophobia) can squeeze through this narrow crevice. Modern tourism and alternative history have come up with "explanations" for each and every part of the shrine, seeing an altar here, a sundial there and astronomy charts everywhere</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p> <p> </p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-137" hreflang="en">Issue 137</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/224" hreflang="en">Thracian heritage</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/225" hreflang="en">Thracian shrines</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/254" hreflang="en">The Black Sea</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/251" hreflang="en">The Strandzha</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=710&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="brtijtmHFcPOS7kBHCFDYhXrIciKbfGBFBGrRgpf6TM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 12:57:45 +0000 DimanaT 710 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/begliktash-megalith-winter-710#comments