BULGARIA

BULGARIA

BULGARIA

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Name: Rila Monastery
Location: Rila Mountains, Bulgaria
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, 117 km south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of 1,147 m above sea level, inside of Rila Monastery Nature Park. The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 - 946 AD), and houses around 60 monks.

Founded in the 10th century, the Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southern Europe.

The museum of the Rila Monastery is particularly famous for housing Rafail's Cross, a wooden cross made from a whole piece of wood (81×43 cm). It was whittled down by a monk named Rafail using fine burins and magnifying lenses to recreate 104 religious scenes and 650 miniature figures. Work on this piece of art lasted not less than 12 years before it was completed in 1802, when the monk lost his sight.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rila_Monastery
Name: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and it is one of the largest Christian church buildings, as well as one of Sofia's symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 5,000 people inside.

It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals and church buildings in the world, third-largest Orthodox Cathedral located in Southeast Europe, being surpassed only by two new and not yet fully completed Cathedrals - the Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral in Bucharest and the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade. From 1931 until 1992 it was the largest finished Orthodox Church in the world, and until year 2000 was the largest finished Orthodox Cathedral.

There is a museum of Bulgarian icons inside the cathedral crypt, part of the National Art Gallery. The church claims that the museum contains the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Nevsky_Cathedral,_Sofia
Name: Bachkovo Monastery
Location: Plovdiv Province, Bulgaria
The Bachkovo Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, is a major Eastern Orthodox monastery in Southern Bulgaria. It is located on the right bank of the Chepelare River, 189 km from Sofia and 10 km south of Asenovgrad, and is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith.

The monastery was founded in 1083 by Prince Gregory Pakourianos, a prominent statesman and military commander in the Byzantine service, as a Georgian-dominated Orthodox monastery. He set up a seminary(school) for the youth at the monastery. The curriculum included religion, as well as mathematics, history and music. In the 13th century, the Georgian and Chalcedonic Armenian monks of the Petritsioni (Bachkovo) Monastery lost their domination over the monastery, but their traditions were preserved until the beginning of 14th century and an Armenian Gospel from the 10th century that came from this monastery still exists today.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachkovo_Monastery
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COUNTRY INFORMATION GUIDE
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FACTS:
Official Languages: Bulgarian
Currency: Bulgaria Lev (BGN)
Time zone: EET (UTC+2) / EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code: +359
Local / up-to-date weather in Sofia (and other regions): BBC global weather – click here
US GOVT TRAVEL LINKS:

For more useful information on safety & security, local laws / customs, health and more, please see the below official US travel.state.gov web link for Bulgaria travel advice. NB: Entry requirements herein listed are for US nationals only, unless stated otherwise.

You can also find recommended information on vaccinations, malaria and other more detailed health considerations for travel to Bulgaria, at the below official US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink.

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It is highly recommenced that you access the above official US travel.state.gov web link and read all safety & security information prior to making your travel arrangements / planning your trip.
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The Bulgarian unit of currency is the lev (лев, plural: leva), denoted by the symbol “лв” (ISO code: BGN). It is divided into one hundred stotinki. The lev is pegged to the euro at 1.95583 leva for €1.

Shopkeepers and other businesses in Bulgaria will usually not accept foreign money, although many will accept the euro. Bulgaria remains a largely cash economy in the rural areas; but in major cities, credit cards are generally accepted.

In most cities there are many money exchange offices which are marked with signs that say “Change”. Most are legitimate, but some may rip you off. For example, they advertise a very competitive rate on the outside, but on the inside, there is a tiny sign with the “official” rates, and these are much worse – so always make sure to ask how many leva you will get for your money before you actually hand it over, and calculate yourselves (e.g., using your mobile phone) how much money you would expect to get. If you now refuse the transaction because the rate suddenly changed, they will make all kinds of unjustified assertions (e.g., “I already entered it into the computer, it cannot be stopped”), but you if threaten to call the police immediately while raising your voice so that other tourists look your way, they usually will let go immediately.

It is much safer to exchange your money at a bank. Banks apply little or no commissions, and generally offer good rates, although they are slightly worse than at a (non-criminal) change bureau. Higher commissions may be applied to traveller’s cheques. Old, dirty or very worn bank notes may be refused. Never exchange money out on the street. Beware of people on the street who offer high rates of exchange or who may ask you to make some change for them.

Over the past years the ATM network in Bulgaria has grown considerably, making it relatively easy to obtain cash from the numerous ATMs in Sofia, and in all other major cities and resorts. The national credit/debit card circuit Borica, to which all ATMs in the country are hooked up, accepts Visa/Plus, Visa Electron, MasterCard/Cirrus, Maestro, American Express, Diners Club, and a number of other cards.

BY BUS:

The fastest way to travel around the country is by bus. Buses frequently connect all the larger cities (you might have to ask or be driven by taxi to the bus station). Timetables information in English can be found online. Always confirm times locally as online resources are possibly incomplete or out of date. Most bus station agents (except at the Black Sea and in Sofia) as well as the drivers will not speak or understand any languages except Bulgarian (and, if you are lucky, Russian) and the destinations will be written exclusively in Cyrillic. You can look up bus schedules for the Sofia New Central at the bus station.

Travelling from Sofia to major cities in Bulgaria by bus is a good value. A one way ticket to the Black Sea from Sofia is around €12-15. Several companies operate regular routes serviced by new and modern buses. Timetables and prices in English for couple of the major companies can be found at GRUP Plus and Biomet.

There are other bus stations in Sofia and also some private buses depart from their own personal station, but for travellers just looking to get out of town with the least amount of confusion – using the New Central Bus Station may be easiest.

Buses and minibuses go from Varna and Bourgas along the coastline, passing or going to all Bulgarian Black Sea tourist resorts.

BY TRAIN:

Travelling by train is inexpensive, but also slower than by bus. Trains are most useful when travelling along the two major train routes: Sofia – Varna and Sofia – Burgas. You can travel both routes overnight, but you should make your reservations early because these night trains are often fully booked.

The official website of the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) is user-friendly and offers an easy-to-use online timetable.

Also be aware that most Bulgarian train carriages are more than 20 years old, are a mixture of older Bulgarian stock and old German rolling stock (mainly former Interregio coaches) and not always well maintained, in particular the toilets will appear primitive to most western users.

There are newer, quite comfortable, Desiro trains built by Siemens (identical to those in use in countries further west) being introduced on the: Sofia to Plovdiv; Plovdiv to Karlovo and Asenovgrad; and Sofia to Blagoevgrad routes. BDZ has also renovated some older cars and uses them for their premium product now, called IC, which is a fast train with obligatory reservations and 2+1 seating even in 2nd class and pretty comfortable and clean seats.

Buying train tickets is pretty fast forward, though most people will buy a ticket 10 minutes before departure, as your ticket is usually valid for a specific train. If you don’t know which train you want to use, you can also buy a ticket in the train without penalty. If your journey starts at the same point as the train starts, you might also be able to buy a reservation for a specific seat on a specific train for very little surcharge (0,30 leva). Though it never seems to work from stations in between.

First class usually cost about 30% more than 2nd class and is usually not notably more comfortable (3 seats in a row instead of four).

If you buy a return ticket, you might get a discount of 30% for the whole journey, compared to buying two separate tickets. If you do this you need to get the ticket stamped at the station ticket office before your return journey, as it might be invalid otherwise.

There is discount for travelling in group.

People interested in railways should visit the Rhodopes train, which starts at Septemvri and goes up to Dobrinisthe, passing through Bansko. This narrow gauge (760mm) train passes through a very scenic landscape, climbing up the Rhodopes mountains, reaching the top and then going down again in 4,5 hours for 125 km (30 km/h average speed). It takes a while, but it’s a real good experience to see some parts of rural Bulgarian life.

BY TAXI:

Many taxi drivers know only limited English so it is useful to write out your destination or carry a map. Taxi tariffs in Bulgaria are standardized in the major cities. One should be extremely careful about using a taxi in Bulgaria. Especially since you are a foreigner, you can definitely become a target of unscrupulous taxi drivers. When in need, get familiar with the most well-known taxi operators in your area, your route and expected bill. Generally the safest way of using a taxi is by ordering a taxi by phone. Some fraudulent taxis even mimic others’ logos and labels on their cars. Definitely avoid using taxis waiting at airports, bus and railway stations! Or, at the very least, avoid taxi drivers who beckon you and offer to drive you and take your baggage. The Sofia and Varna airports are exceptions: both airports contracted with licensed taxi companies. Only these companies can enter the airport area and pickup passengers – prices are standard.

BY CAR:

If traveling by car, it would be helpful if you can read the Cyrillic alphabet at least a bit. Most signs at the major roads have the direction shown in Latin letters, but the signs in the internal road system are exclusively in Cyrillic, so if you are planning a road trip, GPS navigation or a road map are recommended.

If you are a foreigner, its best to rent a car. If you decide to rent a car bear in mind that for any bump or scrape to the car, whether involving a third party or not, you must immediately call the police to come and establish the damages of the incident for the insurance companies, otherwise you will find that your insurance will not cover the damage. Check the Terms & Conditions of your rental agreement closely.

Driving in Bulgaria can be a bit precarious – many roads do not have well defined lanes as they are not well marked, and are in poor conditions with bumps and holes on them. On all but the major roads, expect to find significant pot holes and uneven surfaces. Due to the poor road surfaces, you will often find cars driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid these holes, so be cautious when driving around blind bends. Locals often do not observe speed limits, do not signal when changing lanes, take up dangerous manoeuvres on the road and are very nervous on behind the wheel. When travelling on the road Sofia-Greece, be very careful. There are extensive road reconstructions and you can meet some really dangerous drivers.

If you observe the rules, police will not bother you. Bulgarian police have white Opel Astra patrol cars, marked “POLICE” with blue letters – keep that in mind, because in the past there have been several cases of fake police officers stopping cars and robbing travellers. Should you ever doubt the authority stopping you, you have the right to ask them to identify themselves with a certificate issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Министерсво на вътрешните работи – МВР).

Never ever drink and drive in Bulgaria! This is always dangerous, and in Bulgaria it is a heavy criminal act: your first offence will result in a long prison sentence or at least – a very significant fee. The once-common practice of bribing a police officer to get out of a speeding or parking ticket is becoming the exception.

Car theft isn’t much of a risk, but shouldn’t be underestimated. In rural areas leaving your car should be safe, but in the big cities or tourist spots, it is advisable to stay on the safe side by parking either on the major streets or on guarded garages, where fees range from 6 leva (€3) a day to 2 leva (€1) an hour. If you plan to spend more time in one city, it might be better to rent a parking space, which on the average costs 60 leva (€30) a month. Most hotels have their own parking, and even at private lodgings it is often possible to park the car in the garden or so, just ask.

BY PLANE:

Air travel is still not very common in Bulgaria as distances are relatively short.

Bulgaria Air, the national carrier travels everyday from Sofia to Varna and Burgas. Off peak deals can be found for €25 round trip after taxes.

WizzAir travels four times a week between Sofia and Varna. Off peak travel can be as cheap as €20 round trip after taxes.

Their timetables can be found on their official websites or altogether on BGrazpisanie.com

EAT:

Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. It has some Turkish and Greek influences, but it has some unique elements. The relatively warm climate and diverse geography produce excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, bean cultures, herbs and fruits. Bulgarian cuisine is particularly diverse.

Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks. Bulgarian cuisine features also a diversity of traditional hot and cold soups, and numerous main dishes featuring a myriad of local grown vegetables. The meat appetizers that are typically served after the main dish are not to be missed out on. Bulgaria is also famous for the abundance of pastries in its cuisine.

A traditional Bulgarian meal starts with a salad of choice and some strong alcoholic beverage. The Bulgarian likes to drink wine or beer with its main dish continuing with the chosen drink by the end of the meal. This is why in most restaurants a salad is considered to be the best combination for strong alcoholic drinks.

In recent years, restaurants serving international cuisine have also made a presence in the country, offering various options such as Chinese, French, Italian, and international contemporary.

It is also worth noting that because of Bulgaria’s beneficial geographical location and the slow technological progress in the agricultural sector of the economy the plant products used in the typical Bulgarian kitchen are all organic.

Most common foods:

Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling – especially different kinds of meats – is very common. Turkish-influenced dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Fish and chicken are widely eaten, while beef is less common.

Yogurt (Kiselo mlyako) is very popular. It is mixed with water (drink called ayryan or airian) and it is added to main dishes (especially liver based or with minced meat). White cheese (brine) is a very popular ingredient in the Bulgarian cuisine too. Salads are often topped it it and it is often added to soups and main dishes.

  • Banitsa (also diminutival called banichka) is a traditional Bulgarian food prepared by layering filo pastry with various ingredients. Cheese is the most popular one, but there are also spinach, potatoes, minced meat or kraut (in the winter season). Usually people eat it for breakfast but it goes at any time of the day.
  • In the bakeries there are also various flour based cakes like kozunak (sweet bread, Easter cake with raisins), kifla (rolls with chocolate or marmelade) and some salty variations with white or yellow cheese.
  • Tarator is a cold soup made of yogurt and cucumber (dill, garlic, walnuts and sunflower oil are sometimes added) and is popular in the summer season.
  • Shkembe chorba (tripe soup) is widely believed to be a hangover remedy. There are a few 24/7 places in Sofia where young people go early in the morning after a party, to have a Shkembe.
  • Shopska salad is a traditional Bulgarian cold salad popular throughout the Balkans and Central Europe. Its name comes from the people born of Sofian descent called “shopi”. It is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion/scallions, raw or roasted peppers, white brine cheese and parsley.
  • Snezhanka salad or Snow White salad is made from yogurt and cucumbers. Snezhanka (Snow White) salad derives its name from the fairy tale character Snow White but the only reason for the name is the predominantly white color of the salad.
  • Trushia is served predominantly in the winter season – pickled vegetables. It is a traditional appetizer (meze) to go with the alkoholi drink rakia. It is often served in restaurants or it can be bought prepared from supermarkets. There are different recipes made with garlic, chili peppers, celery, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables, and dried aromatic herbs pickled in vinegar, salt, and different spice mixtures, which usually include whole black peppercorns, ginger, etc.
  • Kyopolou salad is a popular Bulgarian and Turkish relish made principally from roasted eggplants and garlic. Bell peppers, tomatoes, parsley are added.
  • Green Salad, very popular in the spring season and Easter, is made of lettuce, radish, cucumber. Boiled eggs are added on Easter. Sometimes it is served topped with yogurt.
  • Lyutenitsa (Ljutenica or Lutenica) is a vegetable relish. The ingredients include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onion, garlic or black pepper. It comes in many varieties. Lyutenitsa comes in a jar and is often used as a spread on toast and breads. It is also popularly eaten with many meats, meatballs and kebapcheta.
  • Kebapche (plural Kebapcheta) is grilled minced meat with spices (black peopper or cumin). The meat is shaped into an elongated cylindrical form, similar to a hot dog. Typically, a mix of pork and beef is used. Kebapche is a grilled food. It is never fried or baked.
  • Kyufte (also Kiufte, plural Kiufteta) is minced meat, with traditional spices, shaped as a flattened ball.
  • Sarma is a dish of grape or cabbage leaves rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat.
  • Musaka (Moussaka) is potato-based dish with pork mince, and the top layer is usually yogurt mixed with raw eggs.
  • Yogurt is popular dessert served with jam, dried or fresh fruits or honey. In the Sofia area it is often called Vezuvii (Vesuvius) or given other “marketing” names in the restaurant menus.
  • Baklava is very popular dessert but it is rarely served in the restaurants in Sofia. It can be found in boxes in the supermarkets.
  • Garash cake is commonly found in patisseries and restaurants. It is made of ground walnut kernels, sugar and topped with chocolate icing.

Vegetarian:

There are a number of traditionally vegetarian dishes in Bulgarian cuisine including salads, soups, and some main dishes.

Salads – main ingredients in Bulgarian salads are tomatoes, cucumbers and white cheese. The most popular Bulgarian salad is Shopska salad, which is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, raw or roasted peppers (preferably roasted), white cheese and is typically seasoned with parsley. The dressing for Shopska salad is salt, sunflower oil and wine vinegar.

Soups – Traditional Bulgarian vegetarian soups include: Bob Chorba (боб чорба) which is a minty bean soup, Leshta Chorba (Леща чорба) which is minty lentil soup and Tarator (Таратор) – a cold yoghurt and cucumber soup.

Main dishes – there is a wide variety of boiled, fried, breaded, or roasted vegetarian dishes.

  • Panagyurski style eggs (Яйца по панагюрски) – Boiled open eggs served in yoghurt and white cheese with red pepper and garlic seasoning
  • Mish-mash – fried mixed eggs with peppers (and onions) seasoned with fresh spices
  • Byurek pepper (Чушка бюрек) – baked pepper stuffed with seasoned eggs and white cheese mix, breaded and fried
  • Vegetarian sarmi (посни сърми) – rolls of either vine leafs or pickled cabbage leafs filled with seasoned rice and served with yoghurt

Traditional milk products:

There are only two native kinds of cheese: the yellow-colored Kashkaval (Кашкавал) – more or less akin to the Dutch Gouda – and the more popular white Sirene (Сирене) – a kind of Feta cheese, similar to Greek Feta in taste but more sour. Originally made from sheep milk, it is available from cow or goat milk, or mixed.

A pride of the Bulgarian people, yoghurt has Bulgaria for its motherland. The native Bulgarian original yoghurt (kiselo mlyako) contains Lactobacilicus Bulgaricus, a bacterium which serves as the basis for active culture “plain” yoghurt in other countries. Normally made from cow or sheep milk, it can also be prepared from buffalo milk, with a remarkably stronger taste.

Being a staple, and quite favourite around the country, Bulgarian yoghurt also is an ingredient to many dishes, the most famous one being the cold soup Tarator and the drink Ayran. Yoghurt is also a main ingredient of a white sauce used in baking.

There are a lot of dishes served with yoghurt on the side since Bulgaria is the homeland of the product.

Traditional meat appetizers:

There is a large number of traditional meat appetizers from all kinds of meat in Bulgarian cuisine. The most widely consumed, however, have been pork. Traditional meat appetizers are made from either the meat of the animal or from its intestines, but some of the delicacies include both. Other ingredients include leek, garlic, sometimes rice and a wide variety of herbs and spices such as savoury, thyme, parsley, cumin, dill, black pepper, red pepper, and others.

Cooked traditional meat appetizers include fried liver ( typically chicken, pork or lamb), roasted lamb intestines in herbs and spices, breaded veal tongue or veal tongue with mushrooms in butter, and veal stomach in butter or with mushrooms and cheese. Other popular cooked meat appetizers are sazdarma (саздърма) and bahur. Sazdarma is made of chopped meat and usually is seasoned with Daphne leafs and black pepper and can be from veal, lamb or mutton, while bahur is made of chopped pork meat and liver, with added rice and seasoned with allspice, savoury and black pepper. Although, some may think that those appetizers do not sound attractive at all, many of them fin out that they are a jewel once they have tried them.

Smoked and/or dried meat appetizers can be generally divided into two types: pastramis and salamis.

Some of the most popular pastrami-type appetizers are the pork Elena fillet (a salted air-dried fillet covered in savoury, thyme and other herbs) and Trakiya fillet (again, salted and air-dried fillet which is more juicy than Elena fillet and is covered in red pepper). There is also a wide variety of conventional pastramis (air-dried and then smoked and steamed) made from pork, veal, mutton, lamb and turkey. Pastrami in Bulgaria is transcribed as пастърма (pastarma). Another popular fillet appetizer is air-dried mackerel (in Bulgarian veyana skumriya (веяна скумрия) and it can be found in restaurant all around the seaside.

Salami-like appetizers are mostly made of pork and are only air-dried. The most popular are lukanka (made of minced pork with black pepper and cumin), ambaritsa (made of minced meat with red pepper, black pepper and garlic), babek (chopped meat and belly with red pepper, black pepper and either dill or savoury), and starets (chopped meat and belly with black pepper, cumin, allspice and rarely leek or garlic).

Bulgarians have a long tradition of making meat appetizers and many of them vary in recipe across the country. Much of them can be found in different varieties in restaurants and food stores. Most of the most popular appetizers have regional recipes that give the distinct flavour of the area.

Popular local dishes with meat:

The most preferred Bulgarian salad is the shopska salad. However, there is another traditional salad that includes the ingredients of the shopska salad and adds it own distinct touch. The ovcharska salad is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, parsley and white cheese combined with mushrooms, boiled eggs, yellow cheese and most significantly – ham. The dressing again is salt, sunflower oil and wine vinegar.

As a main course you can have:

  • Bulgarian moussaka – a rich oven-baked dish of among other ingredients: potatoes, minced meat and white sauce of eggs and yoghurt served traditionally with chilled yoghurt;
  • Gyuvetch – typical ingredients include chopped potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, peas and some meat done in a clay pot called gyuvetch (from where the name of the dish comes
  • Sarmi – rolls of vine or pickled cabbage leaves with rise and meat
  • Drob sarma – a dish of lamb liver, belly and kidneys with rice covered white sauce and baked, served with yoghurt
  • Kavarma – fried meat with tomatoes, onions and peppers
  • Kapama – rolls of pickled cabbage leafs filled with four types of meat and at least one type of sausages in tomatoes and onions baked in a gyuvetch

Fast food:

In Bulgaria there are traditional bakeries that prepare different kinds of pastry products. Banitsa and mekitsa are the favorite salty and sweet (respectively) pastries among others like tutmanik, milinka and kifla. Also, a traditional fast food option in Bulgaria is the grilled foods, such as kebabche and kufte (made of minced meat), karnache (a variety of sausage) and shishche (a king of shish-kebab made with chicken or pork meat).

Pizza, dyuner (döner kebab), sandwiches and toasts, or hamburgers are also very easily found on the streets of Bulgaria. There are also many local and international fast-food chains. While the local vary across regions, some of the internationally recognised McDonalds, KFC, Subway and Burger King are in every big city.

There is also a chain of fast food restaurant made by Syria Bulgarian all over Bulgaria offering fried chicken and pizza call ( Shami ) and it offers halal cheap food.

Other chain really recommended to try is ( HAPPY ) and it is available all over Bulgaria, worth to try always, good and clean service.

DRINK:

Non-alcoholic:

There are more than six hundred mineral water springs around the country, so this is something you’d better taste and drink. However, tap water is not safe to drink in some regions.

Some of the most popular traditional non-alcoholic beverages in the country are ayran/ayryan (yoghurt, water and salt) and boza (sweet millet ale).

Another popular non-alcoholic drink is the fizzy drink “Etar” that has a distinct caramel flavour.

Wine:

Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape rakia, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.

Some of the well known local wine varieties include:

  • the red dry wines Mavrud, Pamid, Gamza;
  • the red sweet wines Melnik, Dimyat, Misket, Malaga (made of raisins), Muskat, Pelin (with sour notes), Kadarka;
  • and the white wines Keratsuda (dry) and Pelin (sweet with sour notes).

Beer:

Beer (bira: бира) is produced and consumed all around the country. You can find readily available excellent local varieties like Kamenitza (from Plovdiv), Zagorka (from Stara Zagora), Ariana (from Sofia), Pirinsko (from Blagoevgrad) and Shumensko (from Shumen), as well as Western European beers produced under license and produced in Bulgaria like Tuborg, Heineken, Stella Artois and Amstel.

Spirits:

  • Rakia/rakiya (ракия) is the Bulgarian national alcoholic drink. It is served neat, usually at the beginning of a meal with salads. It’s is strong (40% vol) clear brandy that is most commonly made from grapes or plums. However, there are as many varieties of the alcohol as there are fruit. Some of the best special selections are either made of apricots, or pears, or cherries, or peaches.

In many regions people still distil their rakia at home. Home-made rakia may include some special ingredients such as anise, honey, milk, natural gum and lozenges. Home-made rakia is then usually much stronger (around 50% to 60% vol).

  • Another quite popular drink is mastika (мастика). It is a strong (47 – 55% vol) anise-flavoured drink very similar to Greek ouzo. It is usually consumed with ice, with water in a 1:1 mixture.
  • Menta (мента) is a Bulgarian peppermint liqueur. It can be combined with mastika getting the Cloud cocktail (Oblak). Menta can also be combined with milk for a weak alcoholi, but tasty cocktail.
Finding accommodation in Bulgaria is very easy, for any price. You can find everything – from hostels in Sofia and Plovdiv, very cheap boarding houses along the coast to inexpensive hotels in all cities and luxury hotels in large cities. There are many “mountain huts” or villas available for rent all around the mountains in the country. Overnight accommodations can also be acquired at about a dozen of the monasteries. There are also plenty of guest houses and villas. Bulgaria is famous for offering quality budget accommodation for rural and ecological tourism in charming small towns in its mountains as well as at the seaside. In some of the coastal villages, elderly ladies often approach tourists disembarking from coaches and trains, offering accommodation in boarding houses. These can often be excellent value for money (from as little as $5 a night) and can offer an authentic experience, however check these out before you agree on a stay.
**All travel information has been sourced from wikivoyage. However like wikipedia, wikivoyage is an open platform editable by any member of the public. Therefore, although very useful, all above information IS INDICATIVE ONLY and must be verified prior to personal use. Moreover, if you wish to see more information please visit: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Bulgaria
TOP ATTRACTIONS
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Name: Rila Monastery
Location: Rila Mountains, Bulgaria
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, 117 km south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of 1,147 m above sea level, inside of Rila Monastery Nature Park. The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 - 946 AD), and houses around 60 monks.

Founded in the 10th century, the Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southern Europe.

The museum of the Rila Monastery is particularly famous for housing Rafail's Cross, a wooden cross made from a whole piece of wood (81×43 cm). It was whittled down by a monk named Rafail using fine burins and magnifying lenses to recreate 104 religious scenes and 650 miniature figures. Work on this piece of art lasted not less than 12 years before it was completed in 1802, when the monk lost his sight.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rila_Monastery
Name: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and it is one of the largest Christian church buildings, as well as one of Sofia's symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 5,000 people inside.

It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals and church buildings in the world, third-largest Orthodox Cathedral located in Southeast Europe, being surpassed only by two new and not yet fully completed Cathedrals - the Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral in Bucharest and the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade. From 1931 until 1992 it was the largest finished Orthodox Church in the world, and until year 2000 was the largest finished Orthodox Cathedral.

There is a museum of Bulgarian icons inside the cathedral crypt, part of the National Art Gallery. The church claims that the museum contains the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Nevsky_Cathedral,_Sofia
Name: Bachkovo Monastery
Location: Plovdiv Province, Bulgaria
The Bachkovo Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, is a major Eastern Orthodox monastery in Southern Bulgaria. It is located on the right bank of the Chepelare River, 189 km from Sofia and 10 km south of Asenovgrad, and is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith.

The monastery was founded in 1083 by Prince Gregory Pakourianos, a prominent statesman and military commander in the Byzantine service, as a Georgian-dominated Orthodox monastery. He set up a seminary(school) for the youth at the monastery. The curriculum included religion, as well as mathematics, history and music. In the 13th century, the Georgian and Chalcedonic Armenian monks of the Petritsioni (Bachkovo) Monastery lost their domination over the monastery, but their traditions were preserved until the beginning of 14th century and an Armenian Gospel from the 10th century that came from this monastery still exists today.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachkovo_Monastery
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My name is Manny and I would like to personally welcome you to Global Visas.

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Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluableI have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects...

I have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects.

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