Apr 30

Bulgarian Sea Resorts

By Darina Rossier | Travel

The Black Sea (or Cherno more; Черно море) is the natural Eastern Bulgarian border. Some say it was called “black” because in ancient times it was very inhospitable and difficult to navigate in. If sailors were caught in a storm, they usually died because of the absence of islands in the sea at which to harbor. The sea waters also appear very black during a storm or when there is a fog over it. The reason for this “black” appearance is that the deep waters do not mix with the upper layers of water. As a result the deeper layers of water do not receive any oxygen, making over 90% of the deeper Black Sea volume anoxic water. This lessens the amount of living microorganisms in the sea, making it appear black.

Despite its hostility to sailors, the Black Sea is very hospitable for tourists, providing perfect sand beaches and an abundance of sea resorts. There you can find both modern and luxury resorts as well as small historic villages and charming little towns. In the next section, you can get to know the best Bulgarian sea resorts and what they can offer.

Golden Sands

(Zlatni Piasuhtsi; Златни пясъци)

Golden Sands is the oldest of the three biggest Bulgarian sea resorts (Golden Sands, Sunny Beach and Albena). It is located just 17 km away from the city of Varna, in a natural park with the same name, in which you can see some unique costal plant species.

Golden Sands is famous with its golden-like fine sand and its wide and long beach. At times, the beach reaches 100 m width and is 3.5 km long. Sunbathing is possible from May to October, as the calm and clear water stays warm even during the night in the summer season, sometimes reaching up to 25 degrees C.

According to the local legend, the lovely beach was created when pirates dug their treasure there. The land decided to take the gold and turn it into fine sand.

Golden Sands also has some thermal mineral water sources which are used for medical purposes. As a result the resort offers medical and fitness centers in which you can use the healing thermal waters all year round. In those centers over 100 kinds of medical services are offered, such as healing of arthritis, osteoarthritis, stress, chronic pharyngitis, bronchitis, asthma, etc.

Sunny Beach

(Sluhnchev briag; Слънчев бряг)

Sunny Beach is the biggest and most popular sea resort in Bulgaria. It is located in a bay in a half-moon form, turned towards East. It is situated 30 km away from the city of Burgas and 3km away from Nesebar, south from the last uplands of the Balkan mountain.

The shore line is 8 km long, with fine golden-yellow sand, clear water and fresh air from the mountain. There is an abundance of popular night clubs and bars and other kinds of entertainment such as concerts, music festivals, sports, beach competitions as well as the high tech Aqua Park. The sunbathing season is from May to September.

The fast development of the resort in the past few decades made it the biggest in Bulgaria, being able to accommodate over 300 000 people. The overdevelopment creates some infrastructure problems. Sunny Beach is no longer good for a quiet family vacation, however, the people who prefer more dynamic atmosphere and night life will love the resort.

Albena

(Albena; Албена)

Albena is located in the northern Bulgarian sea cost, 30 km away from Varna. The resort was purpose-built in the early 70s. There are a lot of modern hotels there, built in a way that gives them a good prospect of the sea and enough sunshine. Albena offers almost 15 000 beds and over 100 restaurants.

Albena is extremely popular with foreign tourists, approximately 90% of the visitors are foreigners. It is friendly for all age groups and offers diverse entertainment options. From the cultural tourism, Balchik palace and its gardens, to the variety or sports and tournaments, Albena offers dynamic and yet calm holidays.

Albena’s beach is covered with fine sand with velvety feel and is 3.5 km long. The resort has won a prize for the ecological purity of the whole territory. The air has a high amount of oxygen due to the nearby natural resort Baltata.

Transport

All of the mentioned resorts are reachable by car or bus. There are buses from any major Bulgarian city. The closest airports are in Varna and Burgas.


View Sea Resorts in a larger map

Oct 02

Hadji Dimitar

By Darina Rossier | Culture , History , Language , Learning

Recently Bulgaria celebrated its Independence (September 22) and Unification (September 6) national holidays. It is a time of appreciation of freedom and what that freedom cost Bulgaria. In this sense we would like to share with you one of the most beloved poems in Bulgarian literature. It is about the last hour of a dying hero and praises the bravery and heroic deeds of the ones who fought for their country’s welfare.

Hadji Dimitar is a ballad-like poem written by the famous author, revolutionary and national hero Hristo Botev. It was published in 1873 in a revolutionary newspaper called “Independence”.  The author wrote a lot of poems, but the poem about his fellow-revolutionary Dimitar is surely the greatest of all.

The poem was translated to English by Henry Baerlein at 1904. Despite the complexity of the original poem, the translation is remarkably good. It is not completely literal but the translator tried to be as close as possible to the original. Below, you can find both the original text and the translated equivalent. You can use it for study purposes.

[av_one_half first]

Хаджи Димитър

Жив е той, жив е! Там на Балкана,
потънал в кърви, лежи и пъшка
юнак с дълбока на гърди рана,
юнак във младост и в сила мъжка.

 

На една страна захвърлил пушка,
на друга сабля на две строшена;
очи темнеят, глава се люшка,
уста проклинат цяла вселена!

 

Лежи юнакът, а на небето
слънцето спряно сърдито пече;
жътварка пее нейде в полето,
и кръвта още по-силно тече!

 

Жътва е сега… Пейте, робини,
тез тъжни песни! Грей и ти, слънце,
в таз робска земя! Ще да загине и тоя юнак…
Но млъкни, сърце!

 

Тоз, който падне в бой за свобода,
той не умира: него жалеят
земя и небо, звяр и природа
и певци песни за него пеят…

 

Денем му сянка пази орлица
и вълк му кротко раната ближе;
над него сокол, юнашка птица,
и тя се за брат, за юнак грижи!

 

Настане вечер – месец изгрее,
звезди обсипят сводът небесен;
гора зашуми, вятър повее, –
Балканът пее хайдушка песен!

 

И самодиви в бяла премена,
чудни, прекрасни, песен поемнат, –
тихо нагазят трева зелена
и при юнакът дойдат та седнат.

 

Една му с билки раната върже,
друга го пръсне с вода студена,
третя го в уста целуне бърже –
и той я гледа, – мила, зесмена!

 

“Кажи ми, сестро, де – Караджата?
Де е и мойта вярна дружина?
Кажи ми, пък ми вземи душата, –
аз искам, сестро, тук да загина!”

 

И плеснат с ръце, па се прегърнат,
и с песни хвръкнат те в небесата, –
летят и пеят, дорде осъмнат,
и търсят духът на Караджата…

 

Но съмна вече! И на Балкана
юнакът лежи, кръвта му тече, –
вълкът му ближе лютата рана,
и слънцето пак пече ли – пече!

[/av_one_half] [av_one_half]

Hadji Dimitar

He lives yet! he lives yet! there on the Balkan –
The blood has run dark from his bosom to die.
Behold the young hero whose bosom was throbbing,
Whose blood ever shouted as dawn in the sky.

There on the ground has he thrown the long rifle,
too and broken his sabre is hurled,
Over his eyes now the darkness is spreading,
On his lip trembles a curse for the world.

Silent he lies there and in the heavens
Has the sun halted and angrily glows,
Far down in the meadow some worker is singing
And faster and faster thet hero-blood flows.

It is the harvest. Sing, you slave-worker,
Sing the sad songs! You are shining, O sun,
Over a slave-land; ’twill die with our hero –
Have done with your tempests, my bosom, have done.

He that has fallen fighting for freedom
Chooses not death – to that hero belong
The tears of the sky and of earth and her children
And of the voice of the maker of song.

An eagle is spreading her wing for a shadow,
A grey wolf is licking the wound and above,
Above them the falcon, that bird of the heroes,
Floats over his brother, for sorrow and love.

Now falls the twilight and the moon clambers
Into that arch where the happy stars dance,
Now the wood rustles, now the wind hisses,
Now chants the Balkan a robber’s romance.

And all the white arrayed elves of the forest
Trumpet their wondering, silvery strain,
Softly they float thro’ the shadows above him,
Till they alight as the summer-sweet rain.

One of them brings the keen herbs of the woodland,
Another brings water to quicken his brow,
Another one calls him to life with her kisses,
So that he turns like a wind-embraced bough.

„Tell, me, where is my comrade Karadja?
Where are the faithfull who followed my sword?
Tell me and I shall sleep sweetly, my sisters,
Where yhe sweet blood from my body has poured.”

They clap with their hands, they embrace one another
And singing they fly on the back of the wind,
Fly to the dim region where ghosts have assembled
But never the ghost of Karadja they find.

Now dawn has leaped to the mountains;
the hero on the Balkan. Ah! see, the blood flows,
The grey wolf is licking his wound and the poison,
Scarlet the sun is and angrily glows.[/av_one_half]

Note: “Hadji” in old Bulgaria was a title for someone who went to a religious journey to Jerusalem and back. 

Here is a video where you can hear the original in well-spoken Bulgarian. The actual reading starts a bit later.

Jul 25

Bulgarian QuickStart Course

By Darina Rossier | Language , Learning

Hello!

We will launch a Bulgarian QuickStart Course at the beginning of August 2011.

This course is for you, if you want to…

  • finally get fluent in reading the Bulgarian alphabet
  • count in Bulgarian
  • be able to introduce yourself in Bulgarian
  • learn vocabulary for every day use (travel, relationships, shopping, restaurants etc.)
  • build your own basic phrases
  • learn to ask questions
  • learn more about the Bulgarian culture

and many more things, which we will announce later.

The course will be an online video course with the contents available in audio and text format as well. You can download everything and learn whenever and wherever you want, even on your mobile device.

The course is not for you, if you are already fluent in Bulgarian and have a rich vocabulary.

If you need a quick start into the Bulgarian language, we are looking forward to see you in the course at the beginning of August 2011.

Write us an e-mail in case you have further questions: support@learn-bulgarian.net

Mar 01

1st of March, Martenitsa and Baba Martha

By Darina | Culture

In Bulgaria, the first day of March is a national holiday. On this day Bulgarians share martenitsi as a symbol of sympathy and friendship, wishes of health and luck. The martenitsi are small ornaments made of thread which are always in red and white colors. The shape of the martenitsi can be different. It is often in the form of two people – a boy and a girl called Pizho and Penda. But the most comfortable shape is that of a red and white bracelet.

Origins

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya

The holiday originates from pagan times when the Bulgarian tribes were worshiping Mars – the god of spring and war. In this sense, the symbolics of the two colors is the following: red is the color of blood which should not be spilled by wars and white is the face color of the women who are worried for their man when they go to war. The martenitsi are given as an amulet for mild spring weather that is kinder to the warriors.

 

However, there is also a more romantic explanation of the origin of this holiday.

The Legend of Khan Isperih

A long, long time ago khan Isperih left the Tibet mountains which were his home and started searching for a fruitful land for his people, the Bulgars. He passed trough a lot of places until finally, he reached the Slavic lands where he felt welcome. Slavic women in white clothes were serving him drinks and fruits of this blessed land. However the khan felt sad. He was missing his mother and his sister Khalina. He sat at the big river bank and great teardrops fell from his manly cheeks. His eyes rose upwards towards the gods in prayer. Then a miracle happened. A fast-winged swallow landed on his shoulder. Isperih shared his pain with the swallow and it flew to the lands where the Bulgars were. The swallow told Khalina with a human voice that her brother has a new kingdom and he is missing her.

Khalina was happy to hear from her brother and decided to send him a message. She made a small bouquet and tied it with a white wool thread with nods which were a greeting by the old Bulgars’ tradition. She sent the bouquet by the swallow. The bird flew as fast as a lightning and soon landed on Isperih’s shoulder. But from the long way the bird’s wing was slightly hurt and blood painted the white wool thread. The khan happily took the bouquet and read his sister’s greeting. He put the bouquet on his chest and the martenitsa started to shine. Then Isperih told his people each of them to tie a bouquet with white and red thread and on this day to wear it on his chest – for health and divine blessing. This happened on 1st of March and is still celebrated.

Baba Martha

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yurukov

There are other legends connected with the holiday. Baba Martha is a personification of the month March. The word “Baba” means “grandmother”. Baba Martha is a women and therefor her moods change often. When her mood is good, the sun shines and the spring weather is lovely. When Martha’s mood changes to bad, the cold winter comes back. Bulgarians often greet each other on 1st of march with the phrase “Chestita Baba Martha” or “Happy Baba Martha”.

There is an interesting tradition connected with Martha. Women choose one day in the month. They say, that whatever is the weather on the chosen day, such will be your character trough the whole year. So, ladies, be careful what you choose!

Chestita Baba Martha to all!

Jan 06

Iordanovden: An Interesting Bulgarian Holiday

By Darina Rossier | Culture

Iordanovden is celebrated in Bulgaria on 6th of January. It is a name day of the people who are called Iordan or something similar like Dancho, Danka, Bogoliub, Bozhan, Dana, Bistra, Boyan, Bogdan, etc. At that day Bulgarians celebrate the baptism of Jesus when he went to John the Baptist. The Bulgarian equivalent of the name of John is Iordan, thus the name day.

Bogoiavlenie

Source: http://www.flickr.com/people/hotaifun

 

Iordanovden is also called Bogoiavlenie, which means “God appearance” because during the baptism of Jesus a voice of Heaven proclaimed “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Bulgarians believe that at Iordanovden’s eve the heavens open and whatever you wish will come true. At this day, after the church service, the priest throws a cross into the water of the nearby river. The young bachelors jump into the water to take it out. It is believed that whoever finds the cross first will be healthy and happy. He goes around the village and everyone greets him. It is also believed that if the cross is found in ice, the year will be fruitful. After the cross is found, a horo dance is performed in the river and a celebration is held.

Nowadays, the tradition is performed mostly in the smaller communities. In the bigger cities it is common to visit the people bearing the day’s name and to celebrate. It is appropriate to greet everyone of your acquaintance who has a name day.

Oct 17

Learn Bulgarian on the iPad and iPhone

By Darina Rossier | General , Language

Since today our videos with the 100 Bulgarian phrases can be watched on almost any mobile device like iPad or iPhone (it even works on Android phones). To access the videos simply open the page with the phrases on your device and it will automatically work.

If you don’t have access to the 100 Bulgarian phrases, you can subscribe on the right side of this page. Its completly free and you will receive even more materials by time until we launch our full course.

And by the way, we also enabled audio downloads on that page. You find a download link below each video.

Oct 12

Winter in Bulgaria

By Darina | Travel

If you like to ski and snowboard, here are some great destinations in Bulgaria in which you can spend your winter holidays.

Borovets

Photo by aneye4apicture via Flickr

Photo by aneye4apicture via Flickr

Borovets (a.k.a. Chamkoria) is a first class resort situated in the north flank of Rila mount. At the end of 19th century it was established as a hunting residence for the Bulgarian king. Since then, it has grown into the biggest winter sports resort in Bulgaria. Borovets has even hosted World Cup Alpine Skiing twice.

The town of Borovets has very good ski facilities. The ski runs are supplied with number of chair lifts and drag lifts. The resort has a snow making system, covering an area of above 20 hectares. The runs are sound-tracked and lit up by modern lighting systems, allowing night skiing. Variety of many different inclines and types of snow offer the best opportunities for ski enthusiasts of all levels, from the absolute beginner to the extreme high performer.

Altitude: 1350 m.
Distance from Sofia: 73 km.
Webcam: http://www.bulgariaski.com
Map:  Borovets, Route from Sofia
Season: all the time (winter for ski, summer for hiking)

Pamporovo

Pamporovo is located in the heart of Rodopi mountain, at 1650 meters above sea level. The climate is very mild during the winter (annual average temperature 5.5 C). The resort has the biggest number of sunny days per year in comparison with all other mountain resorts in Bulgaria. The tourist season starts at December and continues until the end of April. Pamporovo is mainly winter resort, because it has been adapted mostly for ski sports.

Almost all ski-tracks start from the near Snejanka peak. The mountain peak is one of the One hundred national tourist sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union.

Minolta DSC

Photo by ifot via Flickr

The resort is suitable for ski and snowboard, hiking, spa. Pamporovo provides activities for the children too – ski school and kindergarten.

Altitude: 1650 m.
Distance from Sofia: 260 km.
Webcam: http://www.bulgariaski.com
Map: Pamporovo, Route from Sofia
Season: mostly winter

Bansko

The picturesque town is located in the north slope of Pirin mountain. As the climat is mountain-like there is abundance of snow from December till April.

Photo by Nacho y Adriana via Flickr

Photo by Nacho y Adriana via Flickr

The archeological traces date back to 100 BC and the period of the Roman Empire. However, what is most interesting for the tourists is the old town and its 18th century traditional Bulgarian style. The town was part of the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed a self-rule autonomy which made it prosperous. It is also famous with the first Protestant church in Bulgaria which was founded in 1868.

Today Bansko is an attractive resort for both summer and winter tourism. A new gondola lift starts from the town itself and rides up to the ski slopes of Todorka peak. The ski-tracks are suitable for all level skiers. Since the 2008-2009 season Bansko has been hosting the ladies’ races from the Alpine Skiing World Cup.

Recently, the town has gained international popularity because of the annual Bansko Jazz Festival.

Altitude: 925 m.
Distance from Sofia: 170 km.
Webcam: http://www.bulgariaski.com
Map: Bansko, Route from Sofia
Season: all the time (winter for ski, summer for hiking and village tourism)

Additional Information

If you don’t travel with a car, here is how you can get to one of the above mentioned resorts:

Once you land in Sofia, you can get a bus from the Central Bus Station. Tickets can be purchased there.

To find the perfect hotel, we advice you to check Tripadvisor.

Have fun!

Feb 25

Update

By Darina | General

Hello!

We are sorry we could not write lately but we’ve been very busy with the creation of the course. There is still quite some work left but we hope that we will be able to launch it in just a few weeks!

We will update you more on the progress these days. Until then, here is a little teaser: