Saturday October 8, 2005

Day 1 | First sight of Sofia

'Връщам се от село' (I'm on my way back from the village) was the only phrase I had managed to remember from my new Bulgarian phrase book. In my job as a holiday rep I had grown tired of looking after grannies and granddads on holidays in Tenerife and, being only 24 at the time, had started to miss young people and student life. I had got to know a couple of Bulgarians working in the same hotel as me in Tenerife and so the idea was born for me to go and learn Bulgarian. 3 months later I was…
Sunday October 9, 2005

Day 2 | The boy with the drill

When trying to get to sleep the previous night I'd decided that it would be a good idea to get a television for my room. It would give me something to do in the evenings, provide me with a bit of company until I found some friends and would be a good way to listen to and get used to some Bulgarian. I looked up the words for 'television', 'where' and 'buy' in my dictionary. Armed with my new Bulgarian words I approached the security guy's little window in the block's entrance. He saw me coming, sprung off his old…
Monday October 10, 2005

Day 3 | Suspicious soup

Monday morning and the day that I will hopefully start my Bulgarian course. The Department for Foreign Languages of Sofia University is conveniently attached to my tower block where I suppose students who study here from far away sleep. Just like me. I have already enrolled on the course and paid a deposit so I suppose all is left now is for me to go to the reception of the foreign languages department, tell them my name and that I've enrolled on a Bulgarian course and away we go. I take the 30 second walk around to the front of…
Tuesday October 11, 2005

Day 4 | Bulgarian classes begin

Finally my Bulgarian course was starting today. I was eager to get started and after a few days wandering around Sofia was glad to get some routine into the days. At least, after much exploring, I had finally managed to find the 'Spartak' olympic swimming pool where they don't like turning the lights on, the lifeguards read newspapers with naked women on the back pages and the hot water in the shower room is shared out between all the showers. There was one big shower room and if there were lots of people in the shower the water would only…
Wednesday October 12, 2005

Day 5 | Колко е наемът?

Lessons started at 13:30 so I got up early, had my cereal and milk and headed for the National Library in the city centre that I had found in my guidebook. The National Library was a grand looking building, with large imposing pillars adourning the facade and with a well kept garden and statue in front of it. There were benches dotted around outside with people sitting eating breakfast, drinking coffee or engaged in an early morning chit chat. It seemed a nice place that I'd enjoy coming to do some studying and would also give me a chance to…
Thursday October 13, 2005

Day 6 | Dentist

Determined to get into the library I again headed off early morning, got past the security guard and found a different woman sitting on the desk. I tried a different strategy this time and informed her that yes, I wanted to join the library. She asked me for my ID card, a photo and 7 leva. I didn't have an ID card or a photo so was stopped dead in my tracks. At least she agreed that if I brought my passport in she would accept that. For the second day running the National Library had defeated me. I made…
Friday October 14, 2005

Day 7: The toilet woman

Friday, end of the week, seemingly millions of new Bulgarian words and grammar rules to learn. But today I was confident of finally making it into the National Library to do some studying. I had my passport, I had found a spare passport photo and I had my 7 leva joining fee ready - in cash. Nothing was going to stop me now. Without too much fuss I handed everything over to the woman at the desk in the National Library and after a few minutes I had my very own photo ID library card. Feeling rather proud I thanked…
Tuesday October 25, 2005

Not in the dictionary

The weeks were ticking by and I had settled into a routine: library in the morning for a couple of hours trying to revise all the Bulgarian that we had covered in class the previous day; lunch in the canteen in my tower block (I had now worked out they sold burger and chips and a portion of spicy peppers); 4 and a half hours of Bulgarian classes in the afternoon; bowl of pasta cooked on my newly acquired small hob in the evening before watching either a football match or 'The Slavi Show' on my illegal cable TV. I…
Sunday November 6, 2005

Масата (The Table)

'The Table' might sound a very boring title to this post but its translation in Bulgarian 'Масата' (Masata), has a whole load of cultural siginificance and I would go so far as to say that it represents the centerpiece of both Bulgarian family and social life. Not many Bulgarian family, social or cultural events pass without 'the table' being heavily involved. In fact even when there is no official event going on (which isn't very often) 'the table' is still inevitably the centre piece. My first meeting with 'The Table' came at my first visit to a Bulgarian friend's home…
Tuesday November 15, 2005

You're a big cucumber

Following the publishing of a recent article that I wrote about getting a Bulgarian word just a tiny bit mixed up and ended up saying something completely different some people got in touch to tell me about the Bulgarian words that they had also got mixed up with sometimes very funny results. Here are just a few of those Bulgarian words that if you mispronounce ever so slightly that you can end up saying something a whole lot different and they may even land you in a spot of trouble and some very awkward situations.   Kраставица/Красавица...(Krastavitsa/Krasavitsa)...Cucumber/Beautiful Woman Don't chat…
Wednesday November 16, 2005

Best Bulgarian word ever

It is now just over a month that I have been in Bulgaria. The lessons are going well, I can understand quite a bit of what is going on and I'm even receiving a few compliments for my Bulgarian, which is really pleasing. I have picked up a few slang words like 'бачкам' (to work) and 'поркам' (to booze) which seems to make some people laugh when I throw them into a struggling conversation. In fact I probably go over the top with these slang words as I resort to them whenever I can't think of anything to say. Now…
The temperature has all of a sudden dropped dramatically here in Sofia and although it is supposed to be 5 degrees it seems well below freezing. We had a lot of snow last night and it is still falling. All the pavements are white and Bulgaria seems a completely different place now to the warm Autumn sunshine we had at the start of October. The trees are bare, there's a real cold nip in the air and everything seems a bit greyer than usual. Needless to say even I am not walking round in a T-shirt anymore and have invested…
Monday December 5, 2005

Granny's magical Rakia cures

It looked like the winter had really set in now with the temperature hovering around -10 celcius and I had woken up this morning with a throat like sandpaper. I was snuffling and sniffing, I had a headache and was generally feeling sorry for myself. I skipped the library in the morning but dragged myself to lessons at 13:30. My Bulgarian teacher noticed I wasn't well and told me to go the doctor which again to my suprise turned out to be in one of the rooms in my accommodation block. I had previously discovered that there was a dentist…
Wednesday September 19, 2018

Boobs on the bus

On the topic of political correctness and the sometimes amusing lack of it in Bulgaria I was travelling on a public bus yesterday from Gorna Orqhovitsa to Veliko Tarnovo with my 9 year old son. We were sat just behind the driver who was busy, as they often are, drinking coffee, talking on the phone and swearing loudly at any drivers daring to drive slower than he does. Anyway, it was a few minutes before I took a second look at the big poster displayed prominently above the driver's head for all to see. Now in the UK this important,…