On seeing some reference to Bulgaria on the Kilburn High Road a few days ago, I realised that Bulgaria is almost certainly the European country of which I know least. I've ended up reading things about the Balkans here and there, and the dissassembly of the Russian Empire, but Bulgaria - nothing.
Let's see what a few minutes online can do about this problem.
- Newsflash: there were two (2!) Bulgarian Empires
- Newsflash 2: Thrace! Thracians are one of the types of Bulgarians. Oh. Hang on. Something is coming at me through the mist. Might Count Belisarius, top Roman general of the difficult Goth-fighting, Justinianish years have been a Bulgarian? Yes, he was. I'd forgotten I knew that. Count Belisarius, by Robert Graves, might be my favourite book. It gets to be part of the conversation
- Newsflash 3: Holy Roman Emperor Basil II was called the Bulgar Slayer. This doesn't sound good. He took down the first Empire but he wasn't so bad - he used the Bulgarian nobility (as per every Empire from Rome to Britain) and recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid. I call that generous
- Newsflash 4: the country has a dense network of 540 rivers
- Newsflash 5: its citizens rank second in the world (2nd!) in SAT/IQ scores
- Newsflash 6: it has the oldest treasure of worked gold in the world (5th millennium BC)
- Newsflash 7: world's second largest exporter of bottled wine
- Newsflash 8: Bulgarians shake their heads for ‘yes’, nod for ‘no’ and produce 10% of the world's rose oil. Is that a lot? How much rose oil does the world produce?
- Newsflash 8: according to worldtravelguide.net, much of Sofia's stylish nightlife is in lounge bars with leather sofas. One of the more informal is called By The Way; the beautiful people are attracted to Motto, with its attractive decor and comfy sofas. The Bulgarians are nuts for sofas
- Newsflash 8: 8 is the international maximum amount of Newsflashes, that's why I did two of them
This is just the start for me and Bulgaria, but the potatoes will be ready.