The food here is so much healthier for us too. Much of it is home grown, and actually tastes like food, unlike the mass produced stuff in the UK supermarkets. Those who actually know me, will remember that I do enjoy my food. It has previously been said that I can actually eat my own body weight in pizza, and yes I do have a sweet tooth. In the UK I wasn't what could be described as a salad eater, I could never really see the point of limp lettuce and watery tomatoes, but here I have been known to eat a salad on my own without pushing it round a plate hoping that it would magically disappear. There is something satisfying about eating something which you, or one of your neighbours, has grown, not to mention the added bonus of it actually tasting how it is meant to be. I still don't eat fish, but I will have a go at tucking in to most things, and in the 7 years I think that I have only had to admit defeat with 2 things.
As I previously mentioned, there seems to be something for everyone here. To the West, and running through the width of the country there are mountains, and foothills. To the East there is the coast and the Black Sea. The Northern border is made by the River Danube, and to the South more mountains separating Bulgaria from Greece and Turkey. Everywhere you look you can see an ever changing scenery, native wildlife, insects, birds and plants abound. The seasons are all distinct from each other, the lush greens of Spring after the chill of the Winter months. The heat of the Summer giving way to the welcome russet tones of Autumn. Small wonder that my wife likes painting this wonderful country.
For such an old country, there is always plenty of history to immerse yourself in. With the new road systems which are being constructed, hardly a week goes by where they haven't unearthed a previously unknown necropolis, or some other wonder. Just consider that every step you take an ancient Thracian, Roman or Ottoman could have once walked before. Unfortunately this does mean that grave robbers might have been about, and that various treasures may have been smuggled out of the country. New discoveries are being made all of the time, and the earliest known cache of Thracian gold artifacts was found here in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians have every right to feel proud of their country's history. It might not always have been an easy life for those living in what is now Bulgaria, but the history has helped to make them into the people who they are today.
There are also various oddities to be found in Bulgaria, such as various 'Vampire' graves which have recently been unearthed. Or there is the monument to the Bulgarian Communist Party at Buzludzha. Near to Ardino, you can find the Devil's Bridge (Дяволски мост) as it spans the River Arda. Folklore and tales can be found in all regions throughout Bulgaria, some being easier to find than others, but all well worth searching for. Sometimes it does make me wonder just how so many wonders are crammed into just one country. From the natural to the man made, there is always something to see or do here in this wonderful country. Whether it be skiing in the Winter, hiking in the Summer sunshine or just enjoying time spent with friends you can only have a quiet day in Bulgaria if you actually want one.
Hopefully this has given you a small insight why I consider myself privileged to live here. There are some things which irritate, but the pros far outweigh the cons. So if you have never been to Bulgaria before, why not give it a try? Avoid the out and out tourist destinations, meet the real Bulgarians, discover the history, enjoy the beauty, sample the local food and drink, and you will not be disappointed.