I have been living in Bulgaria for two months and half now. Unfortunately, due to the world pandemic currently happening I didn’t have too much opportunity to visit around and discover the surroundings. So far, I did an excursion around Pepelina with RuseGo, I visited Veliko Tarnovo, the bulgarian ancient capital, during Liberation day, a little bit of sightseeing in Ruse and mostly walking around my flat. Nevertheless, during the short period of time I was allowed outside, but also during my time home, I noticed a few things that made me wonder: really? Is this how things are here?
1. Elevators don’t have doors
It is difficult to take a photo of something that doesn’t exist. This is why it may not be clear on the picture but bulgarian elevators don’t have doors. I mean, they have one door on each floor so you don’t fall in an empty hole, but inside the elevator itself, there is none. So, while going up and down, you have a great view of the building’s bowels.
2. But there are two entrance doors in the flat
I believe there is a door management situation in Bulgaria. While no doors are planned for the elevators which makes security a little bit questionable, there is not one, but TWO doors for your appartment’s entrance.
3. After the « douche à l’italienne » (is this an international thing?), let me introduce you to the « douche à la bulgare »
So, basically, in Bulgaria, showers are included in the bathroom wall. Why do we actually bother with putting a tub, a window and all those useless stuffs that makes our showers so small, when we could have a full room as a shower? This is so practical! And no need to have plenty of space as it is organized in Italy : just put water everywhere and it will dry in a few minutes afterwards. Just don’t forget to put your toilet paper out of water’s reach before showering and you’re good to go.
4. The coffee machines everywhere on the street
And when I say everywhere, I do mean, EVERYWHERE! I have seen coffee machines at the entrance of many buildings. I have seen coffee machines at the entrance of many shops, big and small. I have seen coffee machines randomly on the street. I have even seen a coffee machine on the street that was plugged in a flat on the 6th floor of the nearby building. The wire was going all the way from the pavement to the 6th floor balcony. And, finally, I have seen a coffee machine in the door of a private garage. A. Private. Garage.
5. Buildings with so many colors
Most of the buildings I’ve seen around here are really colorful in a this-is-not-what-it-should-look-like way. Well, I can’t say for sure, maybe it was actually designed to look like this. Maybe. What do you think? For example, this building. I call it « The Rainbow Bloc » : orange, pink, white, yellow… I like it a lot. And somehow the colors kind of fit together, so it’s not shocking. Or maybe I’ve seen it for too long. I can’t say anymore. But I like it.
6. But also monochrome buildings but with surprising color
Ruse is a small, not that small, charming city in Bulgaria. Located right on the Danube river, in the very north of the country, it used to be a strategic place for trade between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. « Roustchouk », as it was called during the Ottoman occupation of Bulgaria, which then became Ruse, was prosperous, modern and lively. Its contemporaries even nicknamed the city « The Little Vienna« . From this time, you can still notice some neo-baroque buildings, restored with, let’s say, vivid colors!
7. Stray cats and dogs that are actually SO BIG
There are a lot of stray cats and dogs outside. But don’t worry, they are well-fed, at least in my building. My neighbours not only take a very good care of the building garden (it’s really impressive) but they also make sure the animals living around are not hungry. Look at this one. I wish they fed me as well. With banitsa. I love banitsa.
8. A library in a super small village
I was very impressed while visiting the village of Bazan (a thousand inhabitants more or less) to come accross… a library! This is so cool! And although the books are a bit old (you can also find a nice collection of vinyl records, just saying!), well, it’s still better than nothing. So, I know communism was wrong and all but cultural center with libraries and cinemas in the villages, this was a good idea. I’m happy this one still exists!
9. Some strange arrangements of buttons in elevators
I know this is a detail. Like, a really, really small detail. But it was the first thing to strike my attention when I arrived in Sofia for the first time. And I just think it’s very funny. I apologize for the poor framing but in those kind of moments I have to be fast, so no one notice I’m taking photos of the buttons in the elevator and think I’m a weirdo.
On the left : an elevator who brings you from the main square to the underground. There are 2 of them, one on each side of the street. I used both in a row as I got lost (obviously) and, I found inside, different information. One elevator tells me I’m going from the 1st to the zero floor and the other one from the 2nd to the 1st floor. It’s not much, I know. But still funny.
This one was taken in a nice hotel in Sofia. First I was shocked because it’s the first time I got in an elevator with no doors (see point number 1) and then I got confused because… Is this how buttons are supposed to be arranged? I had a moment of existential crisis, wondering if I was going crazy or if there was something wrong here.
10. The pioneerning concept of « vacances de grippe »
« So, Ingrid, you won’t start teaching tomorrow because we are now in the middle of the flu holiday – the what? I’m sorry I understood the flu holiday lol – Yes exactly the flu holiday – … ». This was on the 5th of February. It took me a few days to get acquainted to the phenomenon, but, in Bulgaria, every year, the schools shut down for a week or two when people start to get sick because of the flu (the normal one, not the crazy one like now) to avoid all risk of epidemy. How smart! And this year, there is not one, not two, not three but… wait, how many weeks already? I stopped counting.
That’s it! My « Top 10 things you can only see here » about Bulgaria is now finished and I hope you enjoyed reading and discovering Bulgaria with me for a while. If you disagree on some points, want to add details or just had a good laugh, feel free to leave a comment as I’m always happy to read you too. See you!