Archive for February, 2008

Transport in Sofia

Posted in TRAVEL STORIES with tags , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by insidestory

The subway in Sofia is only a couple of years old and can only be used if you want to get from down town Sofia to Lulin, the further development of the subway will be finished in 2012 when it will have reached Mladost and Airport Sofia.
There are many train and bus lines in Sofia but they are often affected by the traffic in the capital.

Lines that are most likely important for tourists are:

– 84 (bus) Goes from Airport Sofia to Downtown if there is no traffic it would take you about 20 minutes to go from the Airport to the center of Sofia. Important stops – Pliska is a place where the majority bus lines stop.
-313, 413, 213 — All these buses go from the Central Train Station to Mladost. These buses stop at Pliska as well.

The cabs in Sofia.

Carefully choose your cab when arriving in Sofia – you might get a sting. There are many cabs, especially on the airport, that might try to charge higher price than normal for their service. What you must know is that in Sofia, each company uses different call numbers. These numbers are often written on the cabs themselves. One of the trusted cab companies has 973 21 21 as a phone number written on its cars. Another cab company that can be trusted uses 9 12 80 as a phone number. It is normal  to pay round 5 – 8 Euros from the Airport to the city center. And please be careful: “City Center” is the name of one of the city malls. So, specify your destination and don’t just tell the cab driver: “City center, please”.

Vesselin Vassilev

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“What is Globalisation?”

Posted in CULTURE SHOCK, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, TRAVEL STORIES with tags , , , on February 28, 2008 by insidestory

“Bezvoditsa” is a small village some 20 kilometers away from The Black Sea Coast. We have a family house there. It was built by my late grandparents. “Bezvodtisa” means “waterless”, which is actually what it is – a suburban village with serious water supply problems. May be that’s why it is so deserted now. Very few people live there and among them – a couple of English families. I will never understand the motivation of these people to buy a house with a swimming pool in a place which is well known for its water supply problems. However, these english families brought economic prosperity to the local community. Not only did they hire jobless and desperate local people to mow the lawn and to clean the empty swimming pool, but they also brought satellite television to this God-forgotten place.

I went to Bezvoditsa in search of isolation and tranquility, in order to finish my first book. It seemed like the perfect place. I had the whole house for myself. I had enough whiskey and beer for the next two months and there was nobody to disturb my peace. I spent half of the day writing and the other half – duelling with a tree, using my grand-grand father’s sabre, which I found in the attic. As I hate jogging and as we don’t have a swimming pool (because of understandable reasons), this was the only way to keep fit that I could think of. At nights, I lay on the roof and I watched the tremendous stars above. It was incredible. Well, at least in the beginning it was incredible. Sooner or later, isolation leads to madness and on the second week of my stay I was already getting desperate to talk with another human being. All I needed was a conversation. Nothing else. This is exactly when the “cowboy” came into the scene.

I called him the “cowboy” because he was a boy who had a cow. That was his only and most valuable possession. He treated the cow with great love and respect, as if it was his own mother, and there was a deep, spiritual bond between them. The cow’s milk was like gold to him and it was the only source of income for his family, other than mowing the lawn for his English neighbors and maintaining their empty swimming pool. I saw him passing by the house and I called him in for a glass of “Rakia” (strong Bulgarian grape brandy). You see, there are very few people who will decline such an invitation here – in Bulgaria, especially in the countryside. He told the cow to stay still and to wait for him and he came in.

The cowboy was a non-educated, shy and timid boy in his mid 20’s. He had spent his whole life in this village and there were very few themes we could discuss, other than the breeding of cows. Nevertheless, I was extremely happy to communicate with another human being. I was bored of speaking to myself and the depths of this boy’s ignorance definitely intrigued me a lot. Our meeting was a very good opportunity for him, too. He had thousands of questions. Somehow, I managed to answer. It was difficult, because he didn’t understand the meaning of half of the words I was using. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not that clever. It’s just that the cowboy was absolutely, utterly and extremely stupid. After the fifth shot of Rakia he asked me: “Hey, can you explain me what “Globalisation” means? I see smart people on television talking about it all the time, but I just don’t get it. You look like one of them. May be you will know.”

“Wow, that is a tough one”, I thought. “How on the Earth can you explain “Globalisation” to a person who has spent his entire life in this village and who has no more that 500 words in his vocabulary?” Suddenly, an idea struck me. “Your neighbors are English people, aren’t they?”, I asled him. “Yes, they are very nice people. I work in their garden from time to time. They pay very good”, he said. My second question was: “And this is a very small village, isn’t it?”. Without hesitating, the cowboy answered: “Yes, it is! I’ve always wanted to live in a bigger village and to have more cows.”

“So you already know the answer”, I smiled. “You live in a small village and your neighbors come from England. This is Globalisation. It turns the whole world into a small village”. He understood.

Tihomir Dimitrov