Report on Bulgaria 2004
Trips to the REAL Bulgaria
Bulgarian women in traditional dress, waiting for their chance to sing and dance (which they did for us later)There are three "real Bulgaria" trips run by Balkan Holidays. They are currently called "Country & People", "Discovery Bulgaria" and the half day "Balchik & Kaliakra". They all try and show you more than the tourist side of your holiday, and for the main, the meet their target.

The Country & People trip includes a lunch at a local house; the lunch was fine and the wine was free flowing, although there being just 10 of us in a room did mean that there were some uncomfortable silences during the meal.
Bulgarian Woman at hand loom showing us her skills - still used today We were, however, impressed by the young lunch host. He was just 14 yet spoke English very well and with, of all things, an American accent although he was not aware of it. He told us that the education system had determined very recently that children of 5 years and upwards would be taught English in schools in order that they would understand the language better, earlier.

Makes you ashamed at our half-hearted attempts in England to learn any foreign language, doesn't it?

There is nearly always some local produce on offer for sampling during these trips. On one of them it was honey from the hives just a few metres away and some yogurt too. You could then buy more of the produce very cheaply; a squeezy bottle of honey was just 5 levs (about £1.90).

On another occasion there was wine tasting on hand. In fact, there were two totally different session on different trips so don't be concerned that you might duplicate the experience!

You get to taste at least 3 wines, and a brandy and then you can finish the bottles! Naturally you can buy the wine on offer at remarkably cheap rates should it appeal to you. With the wine you get the ubiquitous bread and (goat's) cheese. The cheese is quite tangy and is, perhaps, an acquired taste but I liked it. I'm still not sure if the cheese was to "cleanse the palate" between tastings or just give your stomach something to digest amongst the free flowing alcohol!
The obligatory horse and cart ride - quite fun!Another regular feature is the horse and cart ride. You can see my comments on the Romania page but let's just say you should give it a go. Just have the camcorder ready for You've Been Framed.

The "Discover Bulgaria" trip had an extra feature with the opportunity to ride on a horse too. Now don't get thoughts of cantering over the Bulgarian hills, this was strictly controlled in a field with the horse being led around.

Frankly I didn't think it fair to subject any animal to my weight so I passed on this opportunity buy many didn't. The only thing that spoiled this part of the journey was the CD seller playing his totally incongruous music, presumably attempting to sell a CD or two.

Pity the music wasn't more in keeping with the beautifully serene surroundings, or, even better, was switched off altogether.