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Welcome to my blog on learning Bulgarian, Bulgaria and the Bulgarians. I arrived for the first time in Bulgaria in 2005 as a boy in my early twenties, alone and determined to crack the language. I've kept a diary ever since and am now uploading a selection of those diary entries right up until the present day (2018). Bulgaria is a country that I would swap with no other and Bulgarians are a people that I love living amongst and spending time with. I am proud that my young children are now living and growing up in Bulgaria and are also speaking Bulgarian. I have lived most of my adult life in Bulgaria and, as life does everywhere, it throws up lots of challenges and highs and lows. I hope you enjoy! Благодаря!:) "

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…
Friday March 10, 2006

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 and was 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, highly visible space might be used to politely remind passengers about certain…
Slowly slowly the sun is getting a bit warmer, hints of green are starting to grace the trees and the last stubborn piles of snow hidden away in sunless corners are diminishing by the day. To be fair, winter in Bulgaria, although at times it has been mightily cold (often below -20), the sunshine never went missing for too long. There were lots of beautiful days throughout the winter, cold, crisp and sunny. There were also a fair few grey, dreary, slushy days too, and periods when sections of pavements would be glazed with sheets of slippery ice. I am…
Monday April 3, 2006

Football & sunflower seeds

I've left my normal Bulgarian classes group now. My Turkish classmates started turning up for every class really late, taking double the amount of time for breaks, showing little or no respect to the teachers and the whole learning process just got really slow. I was eager to get on and learn so I left the group and swapped all my remaining lessons for a smaller amount of one on one lessons with the teacher. I was pleased with that because I felt that after 6 months of lessons I just needed now to practice my Bulgarian in real life…
Sunday April 9, 2006

Goodbye Sofia

I can now announce that I have well and truly got used to drinking Rakia. I know this because I just can't eat salad now without a glass of Rakia. It just doesn't seem right. 7 months ago when I first went to a Bulgarian's house for dinner I couldn't believe that we were drinking strong alcohol with salad, it just seemed so strange. I can remember speaking to one of my friends from the UK on the telephone and telling him that Bulgarians have salad with this strong, brandy type alcohol called Rakia. He couldn't believe it either and…
Thursday April 27, 2006

Sunny Beach Uncovered / Part 1

Today was my first day of work in Sunny Beach. In the morning we went to the office to collect our uniforms (a yellow T-shirt), and to hear the do's and dont's of dealing with tourists. We were working for a small Bulgarian tourist agency that had the contract for managing a lot of the airport transfers from Burgas airport to the Sunny Beach hotels and vice-versa. All my colleagues were Bulgarian and roughly my age give or take a few exceptions. Our first job was to walk around Sunny Beach to learn where the hotels were so we'd know…
These 3am one hour shifts were starting to get a bit annoying. I'd been getting up at 2.30am, having a coffee to wake me up and then found out that for the life of me I couldn't get to sleep again afterwards. I didn't want to be wandering around Sunny Beach twiddling my thumbs at 4am every morning. Sometimes I was only earning 3 leva a day and at this rate I was spending it all by 5am every morning. But I had an idea, I'd try substituting the 2.30am coffee with 50g of Rakia 'на екс' from the 24…
Thursday June 22, 2006

Опа-охо-мале-леле

There's some brilliant words in Bulgarian that we just don't seem to have in English. I don't mean long complicated words that no one understands. I mean there are these short words, and I'm not even sure whether they would officially count as actual words. Or are they just sounds that you can shorten, lengthen and change the tone of to suit the situation? You hear them everyday in Bulgaria without fail and once you start using them you just can't stop. They can be used in a huge variety of situations and can express a whole magnitude of different…

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