It’s not easy to understand certain things in Bulgaria – the semi-naked girls who seem to be the most popular singers in the country for example. Here are some of the main points that foreigners often get wrong about Bulgarians – and what the truth behind them really is.
The yes and no
When you spend a little bit of time in Bulgaria, you may notice something strange when talking with people – and it’s not the fact that you don’t speak Bulgarian. Even if you try to use the universal language of signs, mimics and hand gestures, you might end up in a huge misunderstanding over one tiny detail. Bulgarians nod for “no” and shake their heads for “yes”. To make things even worse, now that many Bulgarians travel abroad, some of them have changed this habit and in the end, you can never be sure which answer you get, so you’d better learn the Bulgarian words for them: “da” for “yes”, and “ne” for “no”.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The chalga music
You can’t but notice chalga music in Bulgaria – this is the Oriental-styled genre you will hear with turned up volume from cars, markets, and bars. It usually goes along with the dream of fast cars, high-end mansions, and endless parties, which you can see in the videos of chalga songs. The most noticeable feature of these videos, however, is the scarcity of clothes on the singers, both male and female, as “sex sells” is the main engine of this industry. The lyrics of the songs cover topics such as love, betrayal, revenge, rivalry for the heart of a man, etc.
The food not being served together to all the people on the table
If you dip into the TripAdvisor reviews of Bulgarian restaurants, you will see that even the highest-rated food venues have comments complaining about the different time that food arrives at the table. One person might get their baked fish, while the other will have to wait another 20 minutes to get their salad. Don’t take it to heart – it’s how it’s done all over the country and not a personal attitude to you. Accept it and move on!
Not a Third World country
Do you have electricity? Do I need vaccinations? Every Bulgarian has heard at least one of these questions from a foreigner coming to visit them. Although it’s not a country everyone can point to on the map, Bulgaria will meet your expectations for basic electricity supply, potable water, etc. The big cities look much like what you know from the rest of Europe, save for the old Communist-era buildings.
The salary vs. lifestyle discrepancy
Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU and many foreigners are surprised when they hear how low the minimum wage is here (230 euros per month as of 2017). It’s even more remarkable that most Bulgarians own an apartment (house) and at least one car, go on vacations, drink in bars with friends, and other activities requiring more money than they make. While everyone has their own ways, you may not know that many Bulgarians have grandparents living in the villages and sending them fresh produce from there, thus significantly reducing their food expenses.
Take a walk in the center of any city on a working day and you will see hundreds of people having coffee, talking idly or just enjoying walking back and forth on the main pedestrian area with no visible reason. As this might look like life in idleness, in fact, Bulgarians have another special word for it that has no negative implication: aylyak. It is untranslatable and refers to this feeling of calm and non-urgency that is typical for most people living south and is part of their secret to happiness.
Don’t expect everyone to speak English, especially in small towns and villages. In the Communist era, 1945-1989, students were forced to study Russian and some of them made it to German or French but English was not taught a lot. If you need to ask someone for direction, you’d better try your luck with someone young who may surprise you with a perfect American pronunciation because he or she has spent four summers working in the USA.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.