Bulgaria feels like a country that hasn't quite dragged itself out from behind the Iron Curtain. I'm staying in the capital Sofia in a concrete block of a hotel, with surly staff and a brown-beige 1970s interior. I'm surrounded by decaying concrete apartment blocks, that stretch for miles through the city. My Bulgarian colleagues are young IT professionals, friendly and extremely hospitable, and last night they took me for a traditional Bulgarian meal in the city centre.They're the country's future, although, unlike their counterparts whom I worked with in the Czech Republic, who were full of optimism about their country, the young Bulgarians I met seemed rather less hopeful, in fact a little resigned.
Did you know that Bulgarians shake their heads to mean 'yes', and nod to mean 'no'?
Trips like this are like a suspension of everyday life for me; of housework, shopping, car problems and general family duties. I've taken the oppurtunity lately of using these trips to read books I should have read before, but which take time the aforementioned chores don't usually allow. On recent trips I've digested Don Quijote, Moby Dick and Great Expectations. This time I brought along the Library of America edition of Gertrude Stein's works, and I'm currently immersed in 'The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas'. It's a delight, and I'll be posting some quotes from it soon.