Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

To save space, the most recent blog entry will have relevant pictures in it, but after that the photos will be moved to Flickr for storage, and a link to them added to the blog post. If you want to see all the photos anyway then visit the Gostilitsa Flickr page here.

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There is now a separate site with information on living in Bulgaria, including:

  • An introduction to Gostilitsa and all it has to offer
  • Day to day practicalities of shopping, paying bills, banking, insurance
  • Healthcare matters for people and pets
  • Public transport and issues relating to car ownership
  • Becoming a Bulgarian resident and learning the language
  • Tourism, public holidays, festivals, places to visit, hiking routes

Click here for the link.


Unfortunately I've been having an increasing number of problems with storage on this site, so I've decide to continue the diary section elsewhere. Click here for the link to the new site.  The old diary entries will remain here for anyone wishing to delve into the murky past

Friday 28th September, 2012
Category: 2012/09
Tags: forest ecotrail winding wall Veliko Tarnovo garden strimmer

I realised today I've been neglecting to post photos so here are a few updates:


Ready for a bonfire                                         Tree branches to be chopped into kindling



Strimming my garden                                   Woodshed filled to the brim



New water fountains in Marno Pole Park in Veliko Tarnovo

The rest of these are from today's walk along the Winding Wall ecotrail just outside Sevlievo.  I still haven't managed to suss out the route heading towards the hills where the dramatic view is supposed to be, but when it's baking hot I love to head the other way through the forest:


Lots of toadstools as you can see.  What I need is a Ray Mears lesson on finding edible ones!

Thursday 27th September, 2012
Category: 2012/09
Tags: dentist x-ray polyclinic owl house insurance health insurance

On Wednesday I had my second appointment at the dentist where she began work on the root canal procedure.  I've had this done before in the UK so some of what she did was very familiar.  I have two more appointments still but before I left this time she gave me a little x-ray card and asked me to get the tooth x-rayed at the polyclinic which is the hospital building just along the street.  I thought she said to go to the first floor and turn right and that it was open between 8 and 10 in the morning.  So, today I decided to go and have it done before heading into Veliko Tarnovo.

I parked in the little car park next to the hospital (being careful not to park in the spaces reserved for staff this time) and headed into the building.  Seeking the first floor I went straight up the stairs and then turned along a corridor.  There were numerous doors along here, some labelled with what looked like 'medical centre' and a few people waiting at the end.  I asked one gentleman if this is where I have an x-ray.  He looked at me baffled but luckily another person overheard and told me it was downstairs.

I went back down and that's when I spotted the signs for the x-ray department; something along the lines of РЕНТГЕНОВ (x-ray being рентгенова снимка).  I followed the signs and waited outside the only occupied office.  There was one chap in front of me who was taken into an x-ray room.  I earwigged and heard her tell him to come back tomorrow before 11 for the x-ray picture.  then it was my turn.  She took me into another little room which just contained a chair, the x-ray camera and a partition for her to stand behind.  I held the plate in my mouth and seconds later it was done.  She asked me when my next appointment was (Tuesday) and told me to come back any day before 11 for it.  I was to pay when I collected it.  All pretty straightforward and another great chance to practise some of my language.

Then it was off to Veliko Tarnovo to the same office where I insured the car, this tie to organise house insurance and health cover for major things.  Rado met me there and did all the organising.  The house insurance cost me 148 levs and the health cover was 208 levs including discounts because I now have three insurances with them!

This evening I sat in the garden until it was getting almost dark and was rewarded with the lovely outline of a little round headed owl flying across the garden. Perfect!

Sunday 23rd September, 2012
Category: 2012/09
Tags: Independence Day party neighbours

Yesterday, the 22nd September, was Independence Day in Bulgaria; a national holiday celebrating the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule in 1908.  I was lucky enough to be invited to celebrate it with Gancho and his family who live just up the road.  When I say invited I mean the doorbell rang and he told me to be ready in 5 minutes!  I foolishly at the time thought I was just being invited round for a coffee though when I saw him and Peter (the water meter man) coming out of Baba Bona's house with a huge tray covered in foil and smelling deliciously of roast lamb I suspected something more was afoot.

I arrived and was shown inside the house to the living room which had tables lined up the full length of it around which sat about 20 people; all members of the extended family.  I was seated next to one of Gancho's nieces who spoke some English which was fortunate.  The table was already set with piles of bread and bowls of a lovely coleslaw type salad made with cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers and a tasty vinegary dressing.  There were also dishes of tiny roasted peppers - the extremely hot kind - though I avoided those!  I settled for a beer (since a soft drink was frowned upon) and then Gancho's wife brought out a bowl of soup for me.  It was made with lots of herbs and mushrooms and really was good. 

In between the eating I spoke to some of the family about how long I'd been here, where I was from and so on.  Everyone seemed to be eating in stages - not really surprising as the logistics of this many people sitting down to eat at the same time would be a nightmare.

After the soup came the meat course; a huge helping of lamb, a couple of kyufte (meatballs) and a rice mix.  I was already feeling rather full but no one was in any hurry.  In fact, most people ate a few mouthfuls then stopped to talk for a while or go outside for a cigarette, then came back in to eat some more.  Gancho's brother was sitting opposite me and looked the spitting image of his brother.  He and his wife had three very beautiful daughters, two of them with young children. 

Dessert was a baklava though a much lighter one than the heavy Greek ones you sometimes get on holiday.  The syrup wasn't too sweet or sticky and the layers of filo pasty and crushed nuts were gorgeous.  Surprisingly the room began to empty fairly soon after which struck me as odd, thinking the guests would have stayed until early evening, but no, this was just the first batch of family; there were another dozen or so coming from Gabrovo.  Honestly, I've never met such a huge family in all my life, though maybe it's the norm here where everyone probably keeps in touch and meet for such events regularly.

I'd already met one of the Gabrovo families last year.  The husband has a shop in Gabrovo and speaks good English.  He and his wife have a son (who had refused to come today) and a beautiful two year old daughter Svete, which means flower.  She's just started going to a nursery group and already has a great vocabulary - maybe she can help teach me!

Three older guys came along, one of whom is a doctor who takes part in reenactment of the battle up at Shipka.  he plays the part of a Russian general resplendent in full white uniform and he showed us a little photo album of pictures.  He's big into history and there seemed to be a lot of discussion about the war.  Some of the others looked a little sheepish when England was mentioned as I believe we weren't too helpful to Bulgaria and even outright against them some of the time, and there were murmurings of 'but that's all in the past' - not that I was going to be in the least bit offended.  History is history, no one can change their own nations deeds, good or bad.  Anyway, the doctor then broke into a session of singing Bulgarian folk songs; some about love for their country and a lot about lost loves and broken hearts.  It was surprising when the choruses are repeated how I managed to pick out words and phrases.  The other two elderly men joined in too and for me to listen to it was amazing.

The evening was wearing on and I decided to have a couple of glasses of the homemade wine.  It actually tasted really nice but was clearly in a very raw state being cloudy with bits of sediment at the bottom.  Apparently they keep the sediment and use it to brew rakia (which was also on the table of course).  One of the old guys made me laugh when, having been told that I don't speak much Bulgarian, asked me to name some things.  Luckily he chose really easy things like 'red', 'white', 'ice' upon which he sat back and said She speaks good Bulgarian after all - she must be a secret spy for the police! 

More meatballs were brought out along with a big red onion which one of the men chopped into rough slices and shared out. 

At about 11.30pm poor Gancho was falling asleep on the sofa having been up at goodness knows what time to look after his many animals, and the guests had been whittled down to about 6 of us.  The remaining men then decide to have one last drink up at the bar and asked me to join them.  I was half tempted to go but guessed that 'one last drink' would probably be several and I really was tired by now.  So I declined and thanked Gancho and his wife for such an amazing day.  On my way out I was given a huge jar of homemade honey to take home.

Such hospitality and warmth is really quite astounding and the whole experience meant the world to me.  It was even worth the sudden reappearance of the wine several hours later!  Clearly I need to develop my Bulgarian stomach somewhat.

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