I have a feeling Bulgaria exists to mess with the Western mind and remind us not to take anything for granted because everything is arbitrary anyways. The Cyrillic alphabet was invented in Bulgaria, just to mess with us. They use the same letters, but pronounce them differently:
H <- this is n. В <- this is v. P <- this is r, wait, it gets better. M <- this is the same, M (Yaaaay). But m <- this is t, as well as T <- this is also t.
They also use backward letters like я, и (ea, i) for fun. It’s much easier to learn completely new symbols than to switch the sounds of the ones you know. That’s not the end of it. Non verbal gestures are also switched. When they nod the head up and down, that’s a “no”. Whereas shaking the head side to side is their gesture for “yes” (not kidding). That was the hardest thing to get used to. When in a foreign country, I use body language a lot because verbal communication is typically limited. I constantly had to suppress my instincts when saying yes and no.
Economically, the EU considers Bulgaria the poorest member. Yet, historically, culturally and geographically, it’s one of the richest. People have settled here more than 8000 years ago. Almost as old as Egypt! They’ve seen many civilizations come and go: Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Communist among others. Bulgaria, as a country, has disappeared and reappeared, reshaped and morphed a few times over its long history. This created a general laid back, down to earth, Hakuna Matata attitude that is more Eastern than Western. The food is also heavily influenced by the East. After all, it was part of the Ottoman empire for 500 years. I totally indulged in the white cheese and “Ayran” (yogurt drink). Modern day Bulgaria is a melting pot of all the empires that flourished and floundered on its land. The majority of people are Orthodox Christians. In keeping with their character, messing around with conventions, their Xmas is December 25, like the Catholics, but their Easter is typically 2 weeks later.
Geographically, Bulgaria has it all: beach (Black Sea), mountains, lakes, skiing (in winter), rich agricultural land.
Walking down the streets of Sofia, we picked fresh delicious plums, blackberries, walnuts, pears, mulberries, figs, apples, right from the trees. Also herbs: mint, nettle, rosemary, lavender and others. Fruit trees and herb bushes grow wild in public parks, streets and unbuilt lots all around Bulgarian cities and countryside. It’s very safe, people are friendly and public transportation is clean, efficient and reliable. Once you get used to their little quirks, it’s truly a traveler’s paradise. The best part: they have free cats! Street cats in Bulgaria are mostly friendly because people care about them. It’s a cat’s paradise too!😻
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