Some of you have been reading our newsletter for more than three years. Now you could find a more comprehensive guide to Bulgaria with the new book written by Stara Planina Properties directors and published in association with the Sunday Times.
Stephane Lambert, Director of Stara Planina Properties
We would just like to draw to your attention the release of our new book Buying a Property - Bulgaria, Anderson and Lambert (2008, Cadogan Guides). The book uncovers the best places to buy, from the coast to the mountains to Sofia- gives the lowdown on visas, job-hunting and education - covers the details of finding a property: choosing types of accommodation, renovating and security - offers specialist advice on mortgages, taxes, surveys and conveyancing - helps with the challenges of settling-in: learning the language, the law and the culture.
By way of background both myself and Andy Anderson (directors of Stara Planina Properties) graduated from Oxford Brookes University in Urban Planning and worked in London and overseas before taking up posts with the United Nations in Bulgaria in 1998 as advisors to the Beautiful Bulgaria Project. The project was started to renovate historic buildings across the country and improve the urban environment through job creation. Later we set up the business Stara Planina Properties to help other Brits purchase and renovate houses in Bulgaria. Since then we appeared on Channel Four's 'A Place in the Sun', ITV's 'I Want That House', and Real Estate TV as experts in the Bulgarian property market. We have also contributed numerous articles to many leading newspapers and magazines.
It was a great pleasure and privilege to be afforded the opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the process of buying a property in Bulgaria but more importantly of day to day living both negative and positive.
What is celebrated on 14th February? You would say St Valentine's Day. Not in Bulgaria!
Although in the last 15 years the catholic St Valentine is also celebrated by the younger generation in the Bulgarian tradition it is the St Trifon's day after the patron saint of vines and wine. According to the myths St. Trifon lived in the third century AD and is believed to have had the divine power to heal any sickness. He was tortured to death and beheaded for his Christian faith.
Bulgarians call the day of 14th February Trifon Zarezan (Trifon the Pruner). The celebrations on the day have their roots in the Thracian times and involve ritualistic pruning of the vines to ensure abundant grapes harvest. The ceremony takes place in villages with vineyards across the country. The men prune the vines whilst the women bake festive breads and roast chickens for the post-pruning feasts. Having done the pruning, men gather in the vines to eat, drink, sing and dance.
The man deemed to have grown the most grapes and made the best wine in the previous year is crowned 'Tsar', and he and his subjects are ordered to get drunk to ensure a plentiful harvest the following year. In the evening the men are guests in the Tsar's house.
The St Trifon's day is the first of the many Bulgarian traditions on the calendar connected to the eagerly awaited spring after the cold winter.
This summer Barbara Jones of Amazon Nails is leading a week-long straw bale building programme in the village of Hotnitsa in rural Bulgaria near Veliko Turnovo. Barbara is one of the world's leading straw bale builders and this is a wonderful opportunity to learn straw bale building techniques and skills. A small house and eco-centre would be built during the course, which will act as a home and focal point for eco-building in the region. In subsequent years it is hoped more straw bale homes to be built on the site.
The build will take place in Hotnitsa, a small village near Veliko Tarnovo and there will be time for participants to explore the unique area. Veliko Turnovo was the capital of Bulgaria at one time and is built on the steep slopes of the River Yantra. It is a lively student town with lots of museums, galleries and restaurants. The area is rich in history and wildlife, with plenty of quiet trails for walking and cycling.
Below is a link to the Jamadvice HRG Bulgaria Monthly Travel Guide. It provides useful information as well as some interesting facts from the travel industry.