Tuesday, October 27, 2020

2020 Travel the World - Week 43

I started a Travel the World Series last year. (It should be noted that I did a similar thing in 2018, only it was the 50 states.) For 50 weeks in 2019, I visited a different country (virtually) and shared facts about that country. I then selected one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. Fifty weeks; fifty countries... BUT there are 195 countries in the world so that was just a little over 25% of them. Of course I couldn't stop, so this year I'm continuing with fifty more countries, one per week.

This week's country is...


I was really excited to travel (virtually) to Bulgaria this week  because I've really traveled there on two different occasions. The research for this blog post brought back a lot of fond memories.

Tucked in the heart of the 
Balkan Peninsula in the South-Eastern part of Europe, at a crossroad between Europe and Asia, Bulgaria borders Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Macedonia, and Romania.

Bulgaria's boundaries are the Black Sea (east) and the Danube (North).

Bulgaria is as big as Ohio, slightly smaller than neighboring Greece, somewhere between the sizes of North Korea and South Korea, and approximately half the size of Uganda.

No army in the world has ever captured a Bulgarian flag in battle.

The two major mountain ranges in Bulgaria are the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains.

Bulgaria receives a little less than 30 inches of rain each yea, with more falling in the mountains and less on the coast. Winter is the driest season. Summer thunderstorms are common.

Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn't changed its name since it was first established. That happened in 681 AD.

Sofia, the capital, was founded 7,000 years ago, making it the second oldest city in Europe.

Sofia is the only major European city located a mere 15 minutes away from a mountain.

A capital city with a large population requires reliable transportation systems. On the surface, Sofia has many bus and tram services but underneath,  the city only has two Subway lines.  The first subway station took 30 years to build with the beginning of construction starting in 1960 and finishing in 1990. This is because, every meter they dug, they found more and more archaeological sites ranging from the era of Thracians to the Romans. They even found thermal water.

Bulgaria's population is shrinking due to low birth rates and outward migration. It is estimated that the current population will decline by almost one-third by the year 2060.

Bulgaria is home to about 170 plant species that are found nowhere else in the world, including uniques species of tulips, buttercup, cornflower, and baby's breath.

Bulgaria is the world's second-biggest exporter of rose oil, an ingredient in most perfumes.

The country produces not only rose oil in abundance, but also livestock, fruits, vegetables, wheat, wine, tobacco, sugar beets, barley, and sunflowers.

The town of Kazanlak holds a Rose Festival yearly, wherein a girl is elected as “Rose Queen”. Festivities include street processions, folklore concerts, art shows, wine tasting, exhibitions, and more.

One of Bulgaria's wonders are the Belogradchik Rocks. The bizarre rock formations each have a hame: The Schoolgirl, The Camel, Adam and Eve, The Madonna, The Mushrooms, The Horseman, The Cuckoo, The Red Wall, The Bear, and so on. Each rock formation also has its own story.

The Stone Wedding is an awe-inspiring natural rock formation in southern Bulgaria. It has interesting colors of pink, brown, and red. The two largest rocks are the bride and the groom, while the many others are the wedding guests.
Forests in Bulgaria constitute one-third of the country's territory.

Deer, bear, wild boars, wolves, fox, jackals, and lynx can be seen deep in the Bulgarian forests.

Some rare mammals being currently being monitored in Bulgaria are the red squirrel, European and Dobrudja hamsters, lesser mole rat, wolf, jackal, pine marten, otter, wildcat, and red deer.

As confusing as it may be, Bulgarians shake their head when they mean to say “yes” and nod when they want to say “no”.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has Bulgarian roots. He was named after his Bulgarian grandfather Marko.

Bulgaria is considered to be the birthplace of yogurt. The Bulgarian supermarkets contain over 300 different types of yogurts. It is also used as an ingredient in many of the signature Bulgarian dishes.

Bulgarians often start their meals with fresh salads, and these salads rarely include lettuce.

Shopska, also known as Bulgarian salad, won as best dish in Europe in a contest organized by the European Parliament. On a personal note, having been to Bulgaria twice, I can tell you - this salad is amazing! It truly is one of the best salads I've ever had and I ate it every chance I had. One of the things that makes it especially good is the cheese that is unique to Bulgaria. AND... that cheese is also amazing when sprinkled onto french fries. (Please don't ask me how many of those delicious fries I ate.)

At the Bulgarian Christmas Eve table, the dishes are an odd number and they are all vegan. Prior to Christmas, Bulgarian Christians fast for 40 days. The Christmas Eve celebration is the culmination of the fasting.

On Easter (or Velikden), Bulgarians dye red eggs and throw them at one another. The last person left with an unbroken egg is believed to have good luck for the year.

To celebrate New Year's Day in Bulgaria, dancing men dressed in costumes made of goat hair and wooden ram masks wake residents early. The costumed men wish the people good health and a good harvest in exchange for small gifts like beans or eggs. Eventually, everyone gathers in the town square for music, dancing and food.

The oldest processed gold in the world is found in Varna in Bulgaria. The golden artifacts were believed to be 7,000 years old.

The national instrument is the bagpipes, called the Gaida in Bulgaria. There are only three nations in the world that employ the bagpipes in their traditional music. They are Scotland, Ireland, and Bulgaria. The Gaida Bagpipe is usually made of goat or sheep hide, connected to a pipe with three sections, a blow pipe, and a shorter pipe.

Fire dancing is one of the oldest Bulgarian traditions and is still performed in a few mountain villages. It should be noted that these fire dancers dance in their bare feet. I was able to go to one of these performances on one of my trips to Bulgaria and can say it is intense to watch and impressive, too.

On Jordan's Day in Bulgaria, there's one custom that involves a priest throwing a cross into the river. The man who can retrieve the cross is said to be rewarded with good health and happiness.

An ancient
 March 1st tradition celebrates the passing of winter. Bulgarians exchange Martenitsi bracelets; these white and red woven bracelets are worn during March until the wearer sees either a blooming tree or a stork. Then they are tied to the trees to welcome springtime. This celebration is called Baba Marta (“Grandmother March”). It is not uncommon to see some of these bracelets left in trees into the summertime.

In addition to birthdays, “Name Days” are also celebrated in Bulgaria. A Name Day (also known as “Saints Day”) is celebrated by people named after a particular Saint on their Saint’s birthday. Many Bulgarians value their “Name Day” as much or more than their birthday.

When a member of the family leaves home on a special event, e.g. the first day of school, graduation, an important exam, or on his or her wedding day, the other members of the family spill water in front of the doorstep as he or she leaves. They then wish him or her that “his/her success boat floats in calm waters” (roughly translated). 

The State provides education for all children in primary (1-8) and secondary (9-12) public schools. High schools students study for a technical, general, vocational or specialized discipline education before higher education. The national literacy rate is estimated at over 98 percent.

I decided to let this Bulgaria fact be the inspiration for this week's card... Hedgehogs can be seen in the wild as well as in Bulgarian villages and even some of its cities. Some people in villages even leave food out for the hedgehogs to make sure they are around because they are famous for eating snakes.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

: LDRS Happiness Is a Cupcake and Taylored Expressions Simple Strip Background

Papers: Accent Opaque 120# White and SU Real Red CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: Gina Marie Big and Little Chain Rectangle, Rubbernecker Nested Rectangle Stitch, and Taylored Expressions Sentence Strip

Embellishment: Michael's Rhinestone


kiwimeskreations said...

What a wonderful country Bulgaria must be Jeanette - it sounds as though you enjoyed your time(s) there.
Love you card, that is so sweet.
Stay safe

Lynn McAuley said...

Cutest hedgies EVER with their sweet cupcake! Love your facts about Bulgaria!! My kinds of salads - no lettuce! It never agrees with me!!