Bulgaria is #4 on Lonely Planet’s Best Value Travel Destinations List for 2014

Rila Monastery by Alexander Sandev
Rila Monastery by Alexander Sandev

Hey everyone! It has been a little while since we have done a post on “Spotted!- All About Bulgaria”, our series that highlights interesting articles and tidbits about Bulgaria that we find and get excited to share with you. An apology is in order for this MIA attitude, because there certainly is so much out there that we think you will enjoy reading. So here it is:

“We sincerely apologize for having gone far too long without updating you on our Spotted!-All About Bulgaria series and in an effort to rectify this miss on our part we promise to make this post EXTRA full of delicious reads. In addition, going forward Spotted!-All About Bulgaria will run weekly and come out every Monday to start off your week! We hope with that to make it up to you at least just a little. 🙂 “

The team at ~WIthLoveFromBG~

Without further delay, here is what we have chosen for you in this week’s roundup! 🙂

1) Lonely Planet’s Best Value Travel Destinations for 2014 on Lonely Planet – The list is out and Bulgaria has secured the #4 spot on it! This is quite a reason for you to explore Bulgaria as a vacation destination during the upcoming year because value is really the name of the game. Value = good service + reasonable price which in turn also equals happy & satisfied customers. So, kudos to Bulgaria for receiving this international recognition and something for you to think about when planning your next getaway!

2) 19 Things I Learned About Bulgaria on True Nomads – This wonderfully candid article has been making a huge splash all over the internet and social media recently. Just think! It has been shared over 11.9K times on Facebook alone, 146 on Twitter and 37 on Pinterest! And these numbers only represent the shares made directly from the True Nomads site, NOT the ones we all love to make on our social media accounts. So why is this article about Bulgaria so HOT? The answer is simple: author’s honest opinion +19 amazing facts about Bulgaria!

3) Sofia, Bulgaria: the Adventures of an Idiot (a)Broad on Iputmylifeonashelf.com – Jen has done it again! If you are in need of a good laugh, then no need to look any further. Just read this yet another great account of her adventures and mishaps in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is an excellent story teller and a very entertaining one if we might add so ourselves. And of course we can never get tired of reading such kind excerpts as: “Have I ever mentioned Bulgarians are the nicest people ever? Well they are.” 🙂 Thank you Jen! We appreciate that!

Read each one of them and let us know what you think. As always, if you come across some great find, share them with us via the Contact Me page and we will post them in the weekly roundups.

Happy Monday and stay inspired!

~WithLoveFromBG~

P.S. Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out! ;)

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Gift Corner – FOR HER

Beads “I Love You” Bulgarian Love Letter from Bulgaria – Pandora Charm & Bracelet Compatible

$18.99

Poll: Bulgarian Lessons Anyone?

We have AN IDEA (hint, hint it has to do with teaching you some basic conversational Bulgarian that will help you experience Bulgaria in an even more authentic way), BUT first we want to hear from YOU!

Please, take our poll and help us make the best and smartest decision that we possibly can. We appreciate your time! 🙂

[polldaddy poll=7586207]

~WithLoveFromBG~

Featured image photo credit: Sandra Ionescu

P.S. Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out! ;)

Bulgaria in Every Season: Through the Lens of Alexander Sandev

Bulgaria is most often recognized as a summer or winter travel destination. However, that is far from everything that this beautiful land, neatly nestled on the Balkan Peninsula has to offer. For the more creative and inspiration-seeking travelers, the ones who are not afraid to step off the beaten path of mass tourism, Bulgaria can be a total wonderland in every season. And because we don’t expect you to simply take my word for it, we are ready and more than happy to prove it.

Before we started writing this post, we knew that to successfully convince you in our words, we would need extra help from someone who sees and captures Bulgaria in a unique and powerful way. Luckily, we didn’t have to search long, as we knew the perfect guy for the job. Meet, Alexander Sandev from Alexander Sandev Photography.

Alexander Sandev Born into a family of artists in 1974 in Sofia, Alexander’s childhood passed in between multitudes of albums with reproductions of classic masterpieces and endless conversations about art. His first passion was drawing, but in a moment’s notice photography took over and has had him in her grip ever since. As the years passed, he graduated the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski” and continued to follow his passion wherever it took him. “Often, the photography aspect of my life, takes priority over my work and that really makes me feel alive and genuinely happy with what I do…and with the opportunity to share with everyone, all that I see.” As per his friends’ suggestion, this past summer, Alexander led his very first Photography course for beginners in Sofia. “It turned out to be a very exciting and fulfilling experience, especially when one gets to see the daily progress of his own students.”

A picture speaks a 1,000 words. In that spirit, today we are letting a small collection of Alexander’s truly breathtaking photographs of Bulgaria do all of the talking. Who knows, they might even inspire you enough to book a ticket, pack a bag and head over to some of these places and see them for yourself?! If that happens, make sure you don’t forget to come back and tell us all about your journeys. We’ll be waiting. 😉

Now, go on, scroll down and discover “Bulgaria in Every Season” as it was seen through the lens of our friend and very talented photographer, Alexander Sandev!

(note: click on any one of the images for a stunning resolution)

WINTER

Winter morning in SofiaA sunny and fresh winter morning in Sofia with majestic views of the Vitosha Mountain in the background. “As strange as it might sound to some, it is this exact view that keeps me coming back to Bulgaria after every trip abroad”. -Sandev

January in South Park SofiaJanuary walk through Sofia’s “South Park”. It’s a frosted, winter wonderland!

Vitosha The highest point in Vitosha Mountain, Cherni Vruh (translation: Black Peak) ironically in the winter turns into a fluffy, soft whiteness. The skiing conditions here are exceptional.

SPRING

Spring near TranSpring in the gorge of the rivers Erma and Iablanishka, near the town of Tran in Western Bulgaria. “Every year,  if not even twice per year, I make it a point to stop by this region. In the Spring, the two rivers are the fullest and most beautiful.” -Sandev

Belogradchik's rocksEarly morning, the April sun gently stroking Belogradchik’s reddish rock formations, while in the background, the Balkan range, also known as Stara Planina (translation: Old Mountain) is proudly showing its snow-capped peaks.

Iablanishka River GorgeTake an April walk in the Iablanishka river gorge near the town of Tran. Your next adventure surely awaits you just around the corner.

WaterfallsAn enchanting waterfall, located a few feet behind the Etropolski Monastery also known as Holly Trinity and one of the most beautiful ones in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Balkan Mountains, 5 km from the town of Etropole and 81 km NE from Sofia.

SUMMER

Spring in the mountianSummer outing though the Balkan range and especially in the foot of the Raiskoto Praskalo (translation: Heavenly Waterfall) is always an excellent idea and a total treat.

Koncheto“The Pony” in July. A mystical and magical peak in the Pirin Mountains. If you are feeling adventurous, this is an excellent place to “take a walk on the ledge of the world” and cross it off your bucket list.

SinemoretsA two in one virgin beach in Sinemorets presents you with a choice of two waterfronts: the Veleka river or the Black Sea.

Peak VihrenIn August, the majestic peak Vihren and highest point in the Pirin Mountains is a refreshing refuge from the heat below. Head out for a great day of hiking, breathtaking scenery and fresh mountain air.

Grazing horseSummer evening near Belogradchik.

Sinemorets beachThe last warm, summer waves roll from the Black Sea onto a beach near the village of Sinemorets, as another September day quietly winds down. Great opportunity for a romantic walk on the beach.

FALL

Fall in VitoshaThis serene and golden October oasis in Vitosha Mountain National Park, can be found just 20 minutes outside of Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital and largest city.

Fall in the Rhodope MountainWarm Fall afternoon on the rolling hills of the Rhodope Mountains. This is one of the most picturesque regions of Bulgaria.

Na ZavoqThe Turn– the most photographed place on the banks of the Arda river and dam Kurdjalii.

To see more of Alexander’s work visit Alexander Sandev Photography and/or  Alsand Photography .

~WithLoveFromBG~

P.S. Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out! ;)

_____________________________________________________________________________

Gift Corner – FOR HER

Beads “I Love You” Bulgarian Love Letter from Bulgaria – Pandora Charm & Bracelet Compatible

$18.99

 

Sofia by Kiro, the Coolest Local Guide Around

Photo of Kiro
Kiro
Photo credit: Kiril Christov

Today we have the pleasure to introduce you to Kiril Christov or simply Kiro! He is a fun and quirky local Sofian, who besides being the face behind Kiro.bg was also recently a top contender in the Jauntaroo’s Chief World Explorer competition!!! Simply put, he is one SUPER COOL dude!!!

Sooo we thought, who better to ask a few travel-related questions about Sofia, than a true local and an ex-Chief World Explorer candidate (you know, that is like the CEO of world travel and explorations!!! 😉 )?! So hang on to your hats kids, as this ride is about to get really fun, and meet the tour guide that encourages you to truly explore and make the experience your own! And if you would like to have real bragging rights about having gotten personal travel advice AND tour of Sofia from Kiro, click here or scroll down, to watch his AWESOME video about Bulgaria’s capital. Without further ado, I give you Kiro:

Q: So who is Kiro and how does Bulgaria inspire you?

Kiro is just an average guy, who can be easily bored by the daily routine, so that’s why he is always looking for interesting things and adventures. Inspiration comes with the will to be inspired. You can’t just sit and wait. You have to look for it and call it. What goes around comes around. Be inspired if you want to be inspired. 🙂 It sounds strange but is true.

Q: What is your most favorite thing about Sofia and if you had to describe her in one sentence to someone who has never visited, what would you say?

Sofia, it’s my place, the center of my world. I was born and raised here. For the newcomers: Come and taste the spirit of Sofia – a still uncharted city on your travel map. I’ll be the guide, but it’s your experience! All I can do is show you my point of view, but that is mine after all. If you find it interesting, I’ll be glad. But still, I am just the tour guide and you are the only one in charge of your experience.

Q: Being that you are our local expert and know Sofia like the back of your hand, we cannot help but ask for a few “food and drink” recommendations. Here they are:

a) Where is the best coffee in town?

Ha! I don’t drink coffee, but you can try the green tea and snacks at One More Bar (Shishman Str). Nice and cozy atmosphere every day and night.

One More Bar in Sofia
One More Bar
Photo credit: TripAdvisor.com

b) How about the coldest beer?

Damn, I would like to know that! But I prefer beer with friends all around the city. Buy one from the kiosks and small shops located throughout the city center and drink it at Crystal Garden or at the City Garden in front of the National theater. Act like a true local! 😉

Crystal Garden in Sofia
Crystal Garden in Sofia
By: Sandra Ionescu
City Garden in Sofia
City Garden in front of National Theater
By: Gerry Botchoukova-Farkova

c) And of course, where can we find a “home-style” cooked Bulgarian meal (that is not too many of these–>$$’s)?

It’s not that cheap, but it’s affordable and I recommend it highly. It’s called “Pod Lipite” (translation: Under the linden trees) . It’s rural in style and really delicious. Damn, I get hungry when I think about that place.

Restaurant "Pod Lipite" - outside sitting area
Restaurant “Pod Lipite” – outside sitting area
Photo Credit: Restaurant “Pod Lipite”
Pod Lipite
Restaurant “Pod Lipite” – cozy, rural atmosphere in a large metropolis
Photo credit: Restaurant “Pod Lipite”

Q: Lastly, we are all dying to know: “Where is the BEST party in Sofia?” Any ideas?!

Anywhere you make it! Just look for the right people and ask them. Don’t be afraid. Find your people in couch surfing, Facebook or in the streets. Be adventurer! Be explorer! Find the best party and you tell me!

~WithLoveFromBG~

P.S. Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out! ;)