Category Archives for Bulgaria


On the Politics of Museums

Parthenon Sculptures 1

The more time we spend in museums around the world, the more I come to realise how very, very political they are. Take the National Museum of China. When it closed for refurbishment a couple of years ago, exhibits were arranged according to the Marxist theory of history: Primitive Communism, Slave Society, Feudalism, Capitalism, etc. […]


In Which I Lose My Child. Again.

Mum I'm In The Metro

“Yeah,” I say to Z. “It’s too cold to walk a mile in this. Let’s catch the Metro…” After our chilly arrival, we are beginning to, umm, warm to Sofia a little. Or, at least, to accept that, given we only have a day here (I hate travelling fast), we should get out of our […]


Yes, Minus 22 Degrees Is Pretty Chilly, Thanks


One of many difficult questions I faced in balmy, lovely Indonesia was: “Is it cold in England?” Because, what do you say to folk who find 22°C (71.6°F) a bit nippy, pile on four jumpers and their thickest coat should the mercury drops to the freezing depths of 15° C60°F), and have never seen ski […]


The Friday Photo: Sofia Cathedral


Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, isn’t on many people’s bucket lists. But the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an enormous Byzantine revival edifice erected to celebrate the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, is as splendid on the inside as it is on the outside. And that is pretty splendid.


The Cutest City You’ve Never Heard Of…


Plovdiv Old Town is the single prettiest place we’ve visited since beautiful Lijiang in China. The city’s history is written in its walls. Successive generations of conquerors — Macedonian, Roman, Bulgar and Ottoman — have left their mark here, cannibalising each other’s buildings to build and defend anew. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities […]


A Balkan Train Ride

A Balkan Train Ride-2

Is it possible to feel sorry for a train? Watching this little steam engine freezing in the snow at Bansko station, I almost did… The steam engine only runs from time to time, but even the regular trains on this narrow gauge railway feel theatrical enough. Almost every station, however tiny, has a stationmaster in […]


Anatomy of a Bulgarian Restaurant


We have spent more time than I am entirely comfortable with in Bulgarian tourist restaurants lately. Here’s what to expect, should you bow to the greeter’s blandishments: EXHIBIT A: LIVE ENTERTAINMENT Live music is popular. This comes in two varieties. A depressed bloke with a Casio keyboard and a passionate hatred for Greeks exacerbated by […]


The Friday Photo: Our Own Private… Bansko


One of the things I love about skiing is when you get the mountain to yourself. Yesterday, we worked our way through a couple of feet of fresh snow down this deserted route in Bansko, Bulgaria, skis hissing on powder and the trees dense with silence. We haven’t been here long enough and it’s already […]


All Ski Instructors Are Not Created Equal

Skiing Bansko

We meet Emil on a run down the mountain. Or, to be more precise, slightly off the mountain, where Z has landed in a half-arsed attempt at a jump, N has followed him, and both appear to be trying to eat their way out of the snow. As Emil yanks N out of three feet […]


How (Not) To Go Skiing On A Budget

Burning Money

Someone once compared sailing to standing fully clothed under a cold shower burning ten pound notes. Which would, I guess, make skiing standing in a blizzard in fifteen layers of clothing burning euros. But you can go skiing on a budget! Here’s what we, umm, didn’t do… 1: Choose A Cheap Resort We got off […]