Monday, 23 January 2012

So, onto my arrival into Bulgaria for the very first time...

Hello again everyone :)
Well it's been a week since i last wrote about the lead up to my arrival at Varna airport and this post continues from that point, through to me meeting my agent, solicitor, viewing and buying 'more' properties, signing the notary deeds and having my first little taste of Bulgarian life....
From the very first views of the airport's arrivals hall i knew this country was going to be completely alien to anything i'd encountered before. I'm fairly familiar with the German/French/Spanish and Portuguese languages for example, but nothing here made any sense whatsoever!
How, for example, could 'Varna airport' be spelt 'летище Варна'?!
Ok, so i had already learnt beforehand that the Cyrillic alphabet is used and that only the letters 'm/o/t/k and 'e' sound the same as ours, which was a start, but who on earth decided that their 'B' would be our 'V', their 'P', our 'R', their 'H', our 'N', their 'X' our 'H' etc etc, and as for the shape and look of the other letters of their alphabet, well that was anyone's guess, although i'd learned how to at least say, if not read quite yet, the basic 'hello/thank you/breakfast/coffee/food/beer/hotel/please/goodbye etc basics from 'Youtube' and my little phrase book that had arrived in the week prior to my arrival.
The only thing that mattered at this moment was finding out how to get to Dobrich, some 50kms away, and i'd memorized the word 'Добрич', so i happily jumped into my little Chevrolet Aveo hire car, leaving behind the last English words i would see for a while, 'Arrivals and Departures' fading out of sight in my rear view mirror, and set off on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road (which at least i was used to), in search of this magic place which housed my bed for the next few nights. My heart was jumping but in a very good way...
The journey to Dobrich took roughly three times it should have, as every few hundred metres i would have to pull over in the darkness on the deserted roads to take pictures of churches, cafe's, signs with a donkey and cart on them, old 'Wartburgs' and madly spelt street signs etc.

One thing of interest (and useful), is that the Bulgarians sound out words phonetically, and so this sign reads 'Snack Bar', the 'c' being our 's', 'h' being our 'n', 'e' being our 'e', followed by 'b','a','r' etc etc
And so i eventually came sailing into the outskirts of Dobrich, which beckoned me towards its heart, enticing me with it's Christmas lights and warm outer-city glow. 
Now i had to navigate my way to Hotel Dobruja, spelt 'хотел Добруджа'!! 
After half an hour i admitted defeat and took the plunge and pulled over to a waiting taxi man to whom i was about to speak my first words in Bulgarian to, and i did it, explaining best i could that i was searching for (by arm movements and pointing in my little book), 'Hotel Dobrudja'. 
He seemed to gesture 'follow me', so i did, and about 5kms and 10 minutes later he led me straight to the hotel's carpark in the middle of the city.
He asked for 2 Lev (£1). I gladly handed over three and said 'благодаря'....

 I'd arrived! The reception night staff were soooo friendly, spoke good English, and were more than pleased that i was coming out with all my new found Bulgarian words, and so i handed over my passport, took my room key, and headed off in search of my room on the second floor. Now it would have taken a few seconds to walk the stairs but i'd snatched a glimpse of the decor in the hotel's lift and just had to have a closer look, and was in stitches by the time i arrived at my stop. The next picture may explain my good hearted laughter and almost disbelief at seeing the wall to wall, floor to ceiling carpeted lift with its big ornate mirrors adorned with Christmas decorations and postcards from various places. This remember, is about the biggest and poshest hotel in Dobrich city, excellent!

...and on into my room, which really was huge, homely, had a first class view over the city's main square, and most of all, a fridge that contained beer, namely 'Zagorka', which for those of you that already live in Bulgaria, have to admit ain't a bad bottle of beer, and boy was i ready for it, so i drank one and then another, stared out into the array of different sights from my window, phoned friends back home, having brought a temporary 'Asda' sim card for my phone (this is a must...don't use your usual number as the charges even for someone calling or texting you could be huge), and eventually slept, happily, at peace with all around me, and like a log :)
I'll continue with the story of my first full day in Bulgaria and beyond in the next few days, goodnight all :)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Why on earth would i want to live in Bulgaria?

You know what? This is a question i've been asked a few times, not as you might have thought, by my English friends, but by Bulgarians themselves that i've 'met' on such sites as (where are you now), and various others in my quest to exchange language skills and to make contacts/friends with for when i arrive over there for good in March.
So, why Bulgaria??
Well, just over a year ago i hadn't got the slightest clue that it existed i suppose, and i'd have been hard pressed to even suggest where it might be on a map. My best guess would have been that it's somewhere near Russia, and that's no joke (me not knowing where it was by the way, not the fact that it may be next to Russia)!
To cut a long story short, i'd set my heart on Spain with an ex partner, and i 'really really' had. We'd planned to be out of England by July 2011, on our way to a Spanish ruin somewhere inland from Malaga with me renovating and seeing to the land and building chalets for guests/campers, whilst she'd be building her business on site or in one of the many coastal resorts around her therapy/massage/personal development/hypnotherapy/counselling skills etc.
Well that never came to be but i still had the dream, i always have had, and i've realised far too late now that one of the main reasons i've not done it to date is because i've always yearned for someone in my life to build and share the dream with and to live it out together on that mad ride called life as one. That person is yet to appear, but appear she will, and it was never ever going to be anyone from England, i know that now....
So, i'd got some money in my pocket, lost who i thought was the love of my life, but more than that, our dream, and that very nearly ended me and bad went to worse for a while until i pieced myself (shakily) back together again. 
I had to still carry on with our plans, albeit on my own now,  but alone i couldn't see myself both buying and affording to renovate a place in Spain, so i started looking elsewhere, including Portugal that i missed out on some 20 odd years ago when my brother brought his place there, which brought me to yes, you guessed it, Ebay, the Diablo of all Diablos!!
Blinkin 'eck, places with over half an acre of land from two grand upwards i shouted, and nearly dropped through the floor! I reckon it was around 9 hrs from first seeing one posted. to going ahead and pushing that damn magic 'bid now' button, and hey presto, i was once again a house a land that i could barely place, using a language that i hadn't a cat in hell's chance of dechipering, but in a climate that seemed brill, with a race that seemed chilled out to the max, made their own wine and swapped produce with their neighbours, helped one another out, and from online descriptions  and reading, sounded like heaven on earth! 
It cost £2,100, and went as quick as it came, (more in my next post)!
So, two weeks later found me sitting on a Wizzair flight to Varna surrounded by funny little people that spoke Russian for all i could make out. So we eventually landed, and i had arrived on Bulgarian soil, or rather..tarmac.
Wow, just thinking back to that moment, walking from the plane to the arrival's hall in the blazing mid december sun, and i'm sitting here with a happy lump in my throat! 
That HAS to tell me something doesn't it, when you 'feel' it in your heart?
Time for coffee and memories right now i think, will carry on with this a little later in a week or so, for now i just have to 'get lost again' in the magic and promise of the photos i took of my new country and home........

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A video and a goodnight.....

Well it's now 5am and i seemed to have started a blog and it seems to work ok!
And now i shall relax and have a coffee but before i disappear will try posting this video
which is exactly how i feel right fly away.. to the smell of new mown hay,
to laugh and cry, to live and die, in the brightness of my day. 
Night all :)

Starting a blog

Wow it's hard even beginning to know where to start when you've never blogged before and to decide which provider to use, how to set out a page, its text, the colours, the content etc, and if in fact it's even worth doing!
I started looking at different blog sites a week or so ago and very much liked the one my up and coming friend joanna has built.
She (thank you joanna) gave me the inspiration in the first place to even start a blog as she and her husband moved to Bulgaria some time ago and the information and advice she's offered in her posts have been invaluable so i thought i'd follow her footsteps and do the same.
Hopefully it'll be an interesting read, and of value (more so as it develops into the future) to other people who are considering a new life in Bulgaria.
I guess also that this is going to become a very personal insight into me, even to myself, and that's an interesting (and somewhat scary) thought, as the last time i wrote down any sort of diary was some 35 years ago!
Anyway, i'm going to see if this post will even 'save and publish', and i hope to entertain and inform you of my goings on over the next however long into the future!