Monday, June 2, 2014



When you are travelling for a long time, you learn to appreciate the little things more.  Not every day is white water rafting in Nepal or exploring a souk in Morocco.  If you are not travelling solo, chances of your experiencing these things dwindles rapidly.

Some examples of things that have made me happy in Bulgaria:

+The lady who knows how to say 'cheers' in English and her entire table raising their glasses to you just to be nice.

+The waitress who laughs at your pantomime while you are trying to explain 'cheese' with pantomime.

+The cashier who is very excited when you say 'hi' because she knows how to say 'goodbye' in English and is just waiting to use it.

+People who think being from the USA is a 'cool exotic place'.

The Bulgarians have been extremely hospitable to me and I am enjoying living here.  After just a couple weeks I'd become pretty ensconced in the neighborhood.  People know me by sight and smile, wave or say hello ("dobry den") when they see me.


For just sitting and hanging out, it is fine.  I've no idea why (despite the glowing reviews things like wikitravel have given it) a tourist would come here.  One or two days maximum in the old town is enough to see everything.

I've been told that the local mafia controlled beaches are fine and the mountains are splendid to see but I've seen more than enough beach front property and fuck walking up and down mountains.  I enjoy cigarettes, food and alcohol far too much.


The current plan after Bulgaria is Macedonia then Albania.  As I'm still addicted to playing my video game, renting an apartment and burrowing into the local scene like a tick is a very strong possibility.  Were I to spend three months in each of those non-EU countries,  that would take me well into winter.  I've no desire to see cold weather again for several years.  Tunisia is a strong possibility for spending part of the winter.  Perhaps Egypt will have stabilized by the time my Tunisian visa runs out and the rest of the winter could be spent there.  After that is a complete mystery.


After taking a repeated tour of a street in a taxi looking for a place not actually on that street, I got out and asked around until it was found.  Naturally, this was a high end athletic shop.  Athletes here don't seem to come in XXXL so I was referred to the local mall.   This was a surprise - no idea they had a mall here.  Found some t-shirts there in XXL size which fit like a surgical glove and are about as thick.  Not the colors I'd have chosen either but at a decent price of 10 lev each, I grabbed four.

To celebrate buying clothing which didn't really fit had a helping of McDonald's and self loathing for 12 lev.

As in all of Eastern Europe, your chances of having tomatoes added to a burger normally not containing such is impossible.  Offering extra money, threatening to kidnap their family and torch their house are insufficient inducements to 'have it your way'.  You will have it their way and deal with it.


For some reason beyond my understanding, in the USA it is alright for employers to pay their waiters and waitresses well below the minimum wage.  They are expected to make enough in tips to increase their wage to a reasonable amount.  I have no idea how this 'culture of tipping' started.  Alone in the USA, you often get service showing the wait person cares about your happiness.

This is all well and fine but the wait staff regularly complain about people not tipping.  Having managed to stay out of that line of work  all my life, I can only imagine the frustration of doing a good job and not getting what you regard as your fair due.

Now, the reverse should also be true.  If the waiter or waitress does a bad job and receives no tip, this should be fine - right?  The tip is suppose to be for doing a good job?  Or is it just an 'entitled' thing?  The patrons of the restaurant paying what the management has managed to dodge due to the USA becoming a 'culture of tipping'?

Nearly every other country in the world does not tip or their tip is rounding up to the next even amount.  In the USA that would mean if your bill is $15.45, you leave $16 and everyone is happy.  Well, actually some wait staff would chase you down and attempt to shame you into giving more - but that's another story.  In the countries that have no tipping, the service is typically indifferent at best, horrible at worst.  The wait staff (yes, I'm sticking to gender neutral as both men and women are working at this job) in most countries typically stand around talking to each other, ignoring the customers.  They are paid just their standard (substandard) wage - that's it.

In the USA, if the wait staff stood around ignoring the customers, many - but not all - people would feel validated in not leaving a tip.  Others would tip a reduced amount, others would leave a full tip.

If the tip is 'to insure promptness', why do people give one for lackluster service?  Why is there an entire movement which states 'if you can't afford to tip 20%, don't eat out'?

Is it another symptom of our entitlement society?  It does seem a bit 'self serving' (pun intended).

Of course, if people who could not afford the 20% tip didn't eat out at all, would the restaurant be able to remain open?  If not, would that cause the wait person to have to find a different job?  This does not seem to have been adequately considered.

Some restaurants have even gone so far as to make tipping mandatory - thus ridding the entire reason for tipping.  You can get horrible service and still be forced to tip.

It is an interesting question for people who live in the USA but I don't think the answer will be difficult to determine - depending on the person's occupation...


An entire lamb (guts extra) ready for the oven, feeds fifteen to twenty people or one American, 150 lev.

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{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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