Ivet Lalova: European 100-metre Dash Champion

29.06.2012 § Leave a comment

Ivet Lálova, a 28-year old Bulgarian, became the European champion in the 100 m dash on June 28, 2012 in Helsinki, Finland.

The daughter of a competitive sprinter, she placed fourth overall in 100 m at the 2004 Olympics and won the 200 m gold medal at the European Indoor Championship in Madrid the following year. With a record of 10.77s set in 2004, she is the tenth-fastest woman of all time and the fastest white woman in the world at the moment.

Her career was interrupted by an idiotic accident when a careless athlete collided with her during a warmup on June 14, 2005, breaking her femur. Since then, she has been steadily regaining her speed after seven surgical interventions and a long and difficult recovery. It’s great to see her at the top of her game and I look forward to cheering her on in London.

Bulgarians Around the World

28.06.2012 § 1 Comment

I stumbled across Fusion Tables – a cool new Google feature that lets users create, merge and visualize tables, and immediately used it for something Bulgaria-related. The map below represents the number of Bulgarians per country, as estimated by the embassy or consulate of each country, for 2011.

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The Origins of Bulgaria: Myths and Facts

26.06.2012 § 12 Comments

What follows is a tale of two, well, tales. More specifically, two tales of the origin of the Bulgarian state.

One tale says that Bulgaria is 1331 years old (having been founded in 681), speaks of an age-old alliance between the prosperous Slavic tribes on the Balkans and a refugee band of Bulgars pushed out of Crimea by overwhelmingly strong adversaries, and is prominent in every history book, in every cocktail party summary of Bulgarian history, in every Bulgaria-themed blog.

The other, well, makes a little bit more sense. Stick with me through 3400 words and I will show you some fascinating examples of manipulation of historical facts, as well as a different logical account of the foundation of the Bulgarian state.

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Bulgaria on National Geographic’s “Best Tours of Europe” List for 2012

25.06.2012 § Leave a comment

A 12-day comprehensive tour of Bulgaria is one of the ten prime European tours for 2012 according to National Geographic‘s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” list.

The tour features a spectacular itinerary and is a good bargain at ~5000$ (minus airfare). Food, wine tastings, 4- and 5-star hotels, and visits to Bulgaria’s foremost sights are included.

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Walking Tours of Sofia 1: The Essentials

21.06.2012 § 9 Comments

The Legacy of Nikola Fichev

20.06.2012 § 3 Comments

kf-001
Nikola Fichev (also known as Kolyu Ficheto) is Bulgaria’s best-known Revival-era master-builder and architect. An orphan, he became a builder’s apprentice at age 10, and eventually taught himself the fundamentals of construction, architecture, drafting and arithmetic required to become one of the most prolific masters of the 19th century. He was also fluent in Turkish, Greek, Serbian and Romanian.

In his lifetime (1800-1881), he built four bridges, over a dozen churches, a town hall, monasteries, houses and inns, all between Veliko Tarnovo and the Danube port of Svishtov. He used innovative building methods and embedded revolving pillars into several of his churches. The pillars would be able to freely rotate around their centres as long as the integrity of the building’s foundations was not compromised. Despite being built almost 150 years ago, many still revolve to this day. Here are just a few of his masterpieces that can still be seen in Bulgaria.

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“The Errors of Santa Claus” – Parallel Text

20.06.2012 § 3 Comments

Due to a serious lack of parallel English-Bulgarian text for learners, I have decided to experiment with posting professional Bulgarian translations of English-language material and aligning the source and translated text for the benefit of learners of Bulgarian. What follows is the beginning of a short story by Stephen Leacock.

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Nevena Kokanova: The First Lady of Bulgarian Cinema

18.06.2012 § Leave a comment

Nevéna Kókanova (Невена Коканова) was a woman of extraordinary beauty, talent and grace, who bore the laurels of stardom with humility while her face spoke volumes of love, loss and passion. But, as is often the case, the story of Bulgaria’s brightest star is really one of tumult, forbidden love and politics, a fascinating journey from beginning to end.

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Sofia’s Street Names and Major Landmarks

16.06.2012 § 2 Comments

What’s in a name? This post will give you a general idea of the layers of history and city planning in Bulgaria’s capital, based on the names of its major streets and arteries. Furthermore, it will acquaint you with several landmarks and important city squares.

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Vampire Update

16.06.2012 § Leave a comment

The Guardian is also talking about Bulgarian vampire skeletons.

Time in Bulgarian

15.06.2012 § 2 Comments

  • Second: секунда (sekúnda)
  • Minute: минута (minúta)
  • Hour: час (chas) – possibly a shortened version of част (chast), meaning “part” (of a day)
  • Day: ден (den)
  • Night: нощ (nosht)
  • Week: седмица (sédmica) – shares a root with седем (sédem), meaning “seven”
  • Month: месец (mésetz)
  • Year: година (godína) – the archaic лето or лет, similar to Russian, is also sometimes used
  • Decade: десетилетие (desetilétie) – the root for 10 (десет), followed by the archaic root for year (лет)
  • Century: век (vek)
  • Millenium: хилядолетие (hilyadolétie) – the root for 1000 (хиляда), followed by the archaic root for year (лет)
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Ordinal Numbers in Bulgarian

15.06.2012 § 1 Comment

I hope your counting in Bulgarian is significantly up to snuff to tackle the thorny issue of ordinal numbers (“first”, “second”, etc.) which are crucial for correctly saying dates in Bulgarian.

The reason ordinal numbers are a thorny issue is that unlike cardinal numbers, they are gendered. We remember, class, that Bulgarian has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. So, there are three forms of “first” in Bulgarian:

  • M: първи (púrvi)
  • F: първа (púrva)
  • N: първо (púrvo)

The nice thing is, once you learn the ordinal forms in Bulgarian, you can accord to gender simply by changing the suffix: -и for masculine, -а for feminine and -о for neuter.

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Bulgaria’s First Cosmonaut and the Near-Disaster of Soyuz 33

14.06.2012 § 1 Comment

Prologue

Since the late 1950’s, the USSR and the United States have been grappling for space supremacy. Many know and speak of the heroic chapters in this struggle, the milestones each nation achieved, and the disasters it had to endure when testing the boundaries of space. To this day, 2% of the vehicles launched in space have killed their crew, and many disasters have been narrowly averted. The US has had the benefit of an ocean to splash down into and the use of multi-launch vehicles, while the Soviet and Russian space program has been landing on hard ground in the Siberian steppes.

America has lost 14 astronauts: seven in the Challenger disaster during liftoff in 1986 and seven in the Columbia shuttle reentry in 2003. The Russian space program, in contrast, has so far lost only four: Vladimir Komarov, commander of Soyuz 1, whose main parachute failed to open on reentry in 1967, and the three-man crew of Soyuz 11, killed by depressurization during re-entry in 1971. Add to the list of fatalities the death of three astronauts in the launchpad fire on Apollo 1 (also in the ill-fated 1967), several test flight deaths (including that of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin), and a couple of very, very close calls.

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Melnik: The City of the Sand Guards

13.06.2012 § 1 Comment

Translated with permission from otbivki.com, a Bulgarian-language travel and adventure blog. Melnik is a city approximately 200 km to the south of Sofia, near Sandanski, on the southwestern tip of Bulgaria.

The road is winding before us like a snake in the sun. The white strip of asphalt zooms past expansive vineyards and quiet houses, racing against time towards its final goal. It leads us ever South, leaving the villages of Lozenitza and Harsovo somewhere behind us. We’re approaching Melnik…

The pyramids are the first to greet us. We call them the “sand guards” because they resemble a line of soldiers guarding the city. In their embrace lie nestled the white houses of Melnik – the smallest Bulgarian settlement with city status. It turns out to be warm, unpretentious and somehow full of humble, harmonious beauty.

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Memory and Oblivion

12.06.2012 § 3 Comments

History knows hundreds of cases of historical facts being forgotten or purposefully shuffled towards oblivion. The purpose of history is, in my mind, to know where one stands by knowing where one stood and moreover to learn from past mistakes and appreciate the good and the bad of previous historical contexts.

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Numbers in Bulgarian

11.06.2012 § 5 Comments

Bulgaria uses the Indo-Arabic numeral system known around the world.

We begin, as always, counting from 1 to 10.

  1. Едно (ednó)
  2. Две (dve)
  3. Три (tri)
  4. Четири (chét’ri)
  5. Пет (pet)
  6. Шест (shes‘)
  7. Седем (sédem)
  8. Осем (ósem)
  9. Девет (dévet)
  10. Десет (déset)

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Vampires: The Bulgarian Connection

08.06.2012 § 7 Comments

Source: NHM Bulgaria

According to the BBC, Sofia News Agency, and a few dozen other outlets, the “remains of two vampires” were discovered in a tomb near the Bulgarian seaside town of Sozopol. In other words, two skeletons were unearthed posthumously pinned to their graves with iron spikes through the chest.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, a Sozopol native and Bulgaria’s chief historian, explains that there have been over 100 such burials found on Bulgarian territory, mostly dating back to the Middle Ages. He goes on to explain some of the historical background and symbolism behind the ritual.

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Perperikon: The City of Stone

07.06.2012 § Leave a comment

Translated with permission from otbivki.com, a Bulgarian-language travel and adventure blog.

In the hot summer day, dust is our most faithful companion. It sticks to our shoes, our face and our clothes as we walk along the narrow path in a single file. I hear our footsteps leave quiet prints and race with the stones – how many generations have taken this path, how many tribes and civilizations have ascended the steep slope, to experience victories, losses, opulence, poverty or death? For centuries, the cliffs have kept their history, ready to share it with every visitor of the City of Stone.

It appears before us, clad in the golden garb of sunshine, regal, serene and unwavering. Its name is Perperikon.

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The Definite Articles of Bulgarian

06.06.2012 § 9 Comments

Never mind five names for “uncle”, the definite article in Bulgarian is a truly cross-eye-inducing grammar nugget.

The definite article in English is easy: “the“. That’s it. The tub, the king’s wizards, the pretty pony. Not so in Bulgarian.

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Words for Relatives in Bulgarian

05.06.2012 § 10 Comments

Bulgaria is a place where you cannot be farther than 500 km away from your family, no matter how hard you try. Families often live in the same area or, if they don’t, one can always take a quick holiday to visit the folks на село (na selo, meaning “back in the village”). In fact, children often spend the summer months with one or the other set of grandparents somewhere in the country: in a village, a town or a small city.

The centuries-old familial traditions and bonds are reflected in the Bulgarian language. Much like the proverbial Inuit and their many words for snow, there are five different words for “uncle” in Bulgarian, four for “aunt”, three for “brother-in-law” and four for “sister-in-law”.

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The Footprints in the Butter: Bulgarian Jokes

04.06.2012 § 1 Comment

In Bulgaria, the concept of a виц (vitz, a joke/funny story/anecdote) is very highly developed. Vitzove may be directed at politicians, nationalities, occupations, family members, or famous characters. Typically longer than English jokes, vitzove begin with a set-up, and may involve telling a long and elaborate story. As with all culture-specific issues, I hope you don’t find the translations too cumbersome or dense. This is just a random smattering so you know a Bulgarian joke when it’s your turn to tell one.

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A Tour of Sofia in “Hitman” Movie Frames

03.06.2012 § 1 Comment

The not-terribly-brilliant 2007 movie treatment of the video game series Hitman starring Timothy Olyphant and directed by Xavier Gens is notable for being shot primarily in Sofia. The Bulgarian capital is standing in for Moscow, but, as a pedantic and shrewd movie-goer, I have extracted a few screenshots that are definitive Sofia landmarks.

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June 2 – Day of Botev and all those who fell for the freedom and independence of Bulgaria

02.06.2012 § 3 Comments

Hristo Botev

Every year on June 2 at noon, for three minutes the air raid sirens across Bulgaria sound in alarm. Cars stop, pedestrians bow their heads and students rise at their desks. Everyone observes a moment of dignified silence.

The sirens have long since stopped warning of imminent danger – there are no enemy airplanes over Sofia, no foreign armies marching across the Thracian plains. The sirens sound to remind us of those Bulgarians who died for Bulgaria’s freedom and present-day peace. On June 2 Bulgaria remembers the armies of khan Tervel, who defended Europe against the Arabs, the defenders of Medieval Tarnovo, the heroes of the April uprising, the martyrs of Shipka, the young Bulgarian flying aces who defended Sofia from English and American bombers, as well as countless other known and unknown Bulgarians who laid their lives in the name of our sovereignty.

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