A Night of Tradition

Being in the resort of Sunny Beach, we were keen to get a taste of the ‘real’ Bulgaria and were quick to get ourselves on the excursion aptly titled ‘A Night of Tradition’.

The road taking us up to the village was narrow, full of bends and literally on a cliff’s edge for most of the way. Having survived the bus journey my only concern was that I knew in a few hours we would be going back again, in pitch-black conditions. I tipped the driver handsomely in the hope that he took extra care later – an incentive if you like.

After meeting some of the local spinsters (I’m not being rude, that’s what they did), we made our way to the ‘main event’ – a Bulgarian feast followed by dancing and walking on hot coals.

At the purpose-built facility we were met by a bagpipe ‘player’. Being Scottish, I love the sound of the pipes but this was like listening to Mariah Carey on helium through a loudspeaker. Whilst enduring the torturous welcome, one by one we broke off some bread from a loaf, dipped it in salt and swallowed it – another ‘tradition’. I was tempted to take two bits and stick them in my ears but chose not to offend.

We passed an open fire (obviously for the finale) before entering a large restaurant where we were shown our seats. Stuck in the corner, about as far away from the entertainment area as we could get, our table had a basket of bread on it with at least a dozen flies per slice for decoration. I couldn’t help but wonder what the ‘welcoming’ bread had endured before we got there. Our table spent the next half hour swatting, swiping and dodging our way through a Bulgarian Salad and Bean Soup. By the time the main course arrived, darkness had fallen and we were fly free, with just enough energy left in our arms to eat what was a delicious pork dish and pastry dessert.

The folk dancing began, consisting of eight young men and women courting each other through various dances. Six of the individuals were attractive, modern looking youngsters whilst the other two were, how can I say, more ‘traditional’ - I could have saved them the bother and paired those two up at the start. Give them their due, they all danced solidly for an hour and really put on a show – the only drawback was Mariah screeching just off stage for the duration. I was now delighted with my seating position.

The night ended with some old chap raking the fire’s burning cinders so thinly before walking over them, that I almost let my 6 year old have a go. We then entered the bus and said a prayer for the journey.

You would be forgiven for thinking I had a terrible time – not so. Experiences like this are what travelling is all about and I loved every minute of it!

A Wainwright

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