March 15, 2004

Lessons learned

Posted by shonk at 04:49 PM in Bulgaria | TrackBack

Lessons learned in Bulgaria:

  • You are guaranteed to hear the following phrases several times an hour:
    1. Така (Taka) - The all-purpose word. Means “so” or “like” or “thus” or “O.K.” or any number of other things. I’m not sure Bulgarians even know what it means.

    2. Моля (Molya) - Alternatively “please”, “you’re welcome” and “come again?”

    3. След Малко (Sled Malko) - “In a moment”

    4. Супер (Super) - Means exactly what you would expect

    5. Аиде (Eide) - “Come on” or “let’s go”

    6. Добре (Dobre) - “Good” or “O.K.”
  • Lane markings on the road are entirely optional.
  • The sidewalk is a perfectly reasonable place to park.
  • Ukrainians have a reputation as the Jersey girls of Eastern Europe.
  • Tight black pants are appropriate garb for any female, no matter her body type.
  • You can get a bowl of soup, an appetizer, an entree, a Coke, a pint of beer and bread for dinner at the neighborhood restaurant and pay less than five dollars.
  • Unfortunately, the Bulgarian word for bread, Хляб (roughly “hlyab”), is impossible for a native English-speaker to pronounce. And Petya will laugh at you every time you try.
  • It doesn’t qualify as a meal if it doesn’t have feta in it.
  • “Something’s Gotta Give” apparently means “Impossibly Yours” in Bulgarian.
  • Virtually every Bulgarian under the age of 30 speaks English…but many are too embarrassed to speak it to you.
  • Lemons should never be put in a martini.
  • Радио FM Плюс (Radio FM Plus) really, really needs some new theme music.
  • The Sofia metro is much, much cleaner than the Philadelphia metro.
  • Just because a Change Bureau posts the official exchange rate doesn’t mean they will actually change your money at that rate.
  • Sofia is very beautiful when it snows…so long as the snow doesn’t start melting.
  • In Bulgaria, the head nod and the head shake have exactly opposite meanings of what they do in the US. This is extremely confusing, even when you’re aware of it.
  • You can’t learn Bulgarian in one night. No matter how much vodka you drink.
  • I want to go back. Soon.

UPDATE More lessons learned


"Ukrainians have a reputation as the Jersey girls of Eastern Europe."

Hey, watch it. My wife's Ukrainian . . .:)

Anyway, one thing I find interesting is that many of the Eastern Europeans dislike Russia and Russians: Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Romanians, however Bulgarians take a different view point. Many of them look at Russians as the saviors of Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire.

Also, the side to side=yes, up and down=no thing seems to be most prevelent in the South.

One more thing, as I write this, my step brother is in Bulgaria getting married to a nice Bulgarian woman.


Posted by: Daniel at March 16, 2004 05:16 PM

Bullshit sociological observations: it's amazing, despite shared whiteness, how easily you can tell Eastern Europeans apart from, say, Americans. Maybe they look a bit more Asian, but I'm not sure that's exactly it. I don't know about Jersey girls, but one of my best Russian friends and his mom think that Russians are most like Italians, what with being loud and ostentatious (and smoking like chimneys). She in particular talks about how happy she is to be back in Russia where she can stop being polite to people at the market and can yell at almost anybody whenever she wants.

Posted by: Curt at March 16, 2004 06:43 PM

Also, consider yourself lucky with those - $5.00 meals. If I go to Scandinavia this summer, a pint will cost me about $7.50, and even a burger will probably run at least $9.50 (and that's even without factoring in the exchange rate rip-off).

Posted by: Curt at March 16, 2004 06:48 PM

Sounds like you had a blast, man. Makes me want to head over there for a look see. Nice read.

PS: I've almost finished up the interview questions.

Posted by: George Potter at March 16, 2004 08:00 PM

How does Bulgaria keep the homeless people from pissing on the tracks? SEPTA hasn't yet figured out how to do that, which is why the entire system smells like a latrine.

I really, really miss Philadelphia. I already miss Phillies baseball.

- Josh

Posted by: Wild Pegasus at March 17, 2004 04:56 AM

I already miss Phillies baseball.

Yeah, and with the improved roster and new ballpark, the Phillies should be especially fun this year.

Posted by: shonk at March 17, 2004 10:43 AM

I am myself Bulgarian, though when I was there last Sofia most definitely did not have a metro. Your observation on lane markings on roads reminded me of my last trip, when my uncle drove us from Sofia to the Black Sea coast and actually took pains to keep the car centered exactly on top of the yellow line in the middle of the road, on the theory that this makes driving easier. It was a hilly road, too, so oncoming traffic was not always visible in advance.. my non-Bulgarian husband cringes every time he is reminded of that experience.

Glad you had a good time,

Posted by: Marina at March 18, 2004 01:14 AM