Bulgaria is in the southeast of Europe, sandwiched between Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Serbia with a good portion of it facing the Black Sea. They've got everything, from the mountains to the seas. It's an amazing country that's rich in history and culture. It goes all the way back from the Neolithic period to the Thracians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and the Soviet Union. And from the 20th-century, it has been free and taking out its wings. It's one of the newest members of the EU and it is rapidly developing into another European destination to get acquainted to.
My first time to set foot on Bulgaria was last October for a wine conference and press trip. I was coming from another press trip in Turkey, which was another first for me. After spending a few days in Turkey, our Press Group made our way to Bulgaria by land. It was about a 4-hour drive to Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city, hindered by strong rains and long waiting at the border control. After passport controls, customs and more checks, my excitement to see Bulgaria mounted. After dusk and with the rain pouring, we made it to Plovdiv. Hello Bulgaria!
Bulgaria is a part of Europe that is less trodden by tourists. After the fall of the communist regime in 1990, things shifted, giving a better path to different kinds of industries like wine and food tourism. Their goal? Quality. Bulgaria is not new to wine production because it already had a steady position in the export market in the 1970s but as Gorbachev's anti-alcohol measures dropped like an axe, many vineyards were abandoned. Upon entry to 1990, investors and new ideas sprouted. And from there, the new vineyards started to take shape. There are five distinct viticultural regions in Bulgaria and they are as follows: Danubian Plain, Black Sea, Rose Valley, Thracian Lowland and Struma River Valley.
Food, what can I say? I love food and and I love everything I tried in Bulgaria. Because of its colorful history, the influences of the occupations reflect on their food mixed with the Balkan characteristics. Fresh ingredients, herbs and lamb, pork and chicken are widely used while beef is not as common. Meals are composed of appetizers, main courses and desserts, all accompanied with a good bottle of wine. A typical appetizer is the shopska salat, a simple tomato and cucumber salad with sirine cheese (Bulgaria's answer to the Greek feta) then dressed with oil and a little bit of vinegar. It's a very refreshing starter and the local tomatoes are very tasty which makes this simple salad so good. Of course there are also charcuterie, cheese and other vegetable and bean dishes to start the meals. Typically, meat is cooked in clay pots mixed with herbs and they are delicious!
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and it is also the most metropolitanized city in the country. It hosts most of the country's major universities, big companies and cultural institutions. Aside from its modern institutions, it also has a lot of old churches. It is a place to see and feel the contemporary alongside the old Bulgaria.
Because of the new generation, it is fast shaping its own creative style in art and the gastronomic scene. Fusion restaurants are the new things to try when in the city and they can take you to a whirlwind of delectable flavors. To know where to eat in Sofia, check out my article in Honest Cooking on Eating Your Way Through The Delicious History of Sofia, Bulgaria and a blog post I wrote here which is Sofia, Bulgaria: What I Saw and Where I Ate.
Plovdiv is the second biggest city in Bulgaria and it was also chosen as the host of the European Capital of Culture in 2019. It is much smaller than Sofia and it has a well-preserved old town where old buildings line the main pedestrian avenue. Aside from a number of old monuments, there are also the Antique Theater and Antique Stadium built in 200 A.D. from the Roman Period.
Bulgaria has a lot to offer to history, culture, food and wine lovers. It's the new place to discover with so many new things to experience. It is one of the remaining places in Europe where money can still be stretched longer. It was declared as the most affordable city to travel to in 2013 but after 3 years and its fast development, things can change fast too because it has opened its tourism in full scale. For all these reasons and maybe much more, Bulgaria can be your next travel destination. Safe travels!
Discover Bulgaria more with the story I created for Mode. You can find it below or click on this link to take you to the story about Why Bulgaria is Your Next Travel Destination. You can find more of my stories there at my Profile Page.
Check out Why Bulgaria is Your Next Travel Destination
by Rowena Dumlao - Giardina at Mode