Monday, 24 February 2014

Round 2.

So after reporting back home about how much I enjoyed Bulgaria, the other half (Liz) agreed to come out with me to have a look at a few houses & to see if she liked the area.  We booked flights for October half term & arranged to be shown a few houses by an estate agent. Our daughter in the mean time decided she didn't want to come & booked herself in with a friends parents for the week so she could go trick or treating, flight non refundable of course. 

The day arrives & up with the sparrows fart at dark o'Clock we drive to Gatwick.  Another overpriced breakfast & were on the way. On board a new plane with posh Recaro seats & more legroom we get seated. We are now delayed waiting for another passenger, when along comes an elderly Bulgarian lady with her mentally ill son who seems to have overdosed on a lethal cocktail of sedatives & Maryland cookies. A battle then commences between the lady & her son involving lots of shouting, dribbling & biscuit crumbs, with the other passengers now getting agitated & trying not to stare & the non Bulgarian speaking cabin crew looking terrified the battle heads to the rear of the plane & into the toilets. After a few minutes of banging & screaming the old girl comes  back through the plane with the poor stressed fellow in an arm lock which was impressive as she was half his size, they headed to the front of the plane & were escorted off leaving a trail of broken biscuits. We get the usual pre flight announcements done & taxi off to the runway where we sit for another hour as we missed our slot!

We finally land smoothly thanks to our Russian sounding lady pilot (i expect a man parked it for her!) & get out into the sun to see which comedy budget car we have this time. We are presented with a not too shabby Dacia Sandero (James May would be pleased!) & this one had tires at no extra cost! So another road trip 120 ish miles to Stanevo, a swift drive through the Sofia pikey camp (Dobur den my chav), then a quick wave to the poor unfortunate ladys in the lay-bys that cant afford any clothes. Into Lidl in Vratsa for supplies & a strange margarine type substance that keeps the same consistency if you put it in the fridge or leave it out in the sun, I cant believe its not shit & fat!

We drive through beautiful sunshine for an hour or 2, then as we drive down into the valley towards Lom its thick fog, pitch black, freezing & the car steams up!  We arrive at house of Fuzz, give Liz the quick tour of the estate & go to the bar where she has the introduction to a few of the locals & more importantly Rakia! She politely drinks the local brew & then has the face of someone thats just stuck their tongue on a 9 volt battery for the first time, to be honest the taste is pretty similar. I politely smile through the pain of my shot thinking just neck it & get it over with, this again gives the locals the impression i like it & im handed a small mineral water bottle full of it. Liz said to me quietly, youre going to die, i know, i whispered.  I drank it, it went down & more importantly stayed down. Game over!

We wake on a bright autumn morning to the sounds of horses & carts, donkeys, various dogs & birds doing there thing. We went out into the sun & ironically it was warmer in October than it was in June. We spent a few days looking round the area, went into Vidin & visited the Pheonix cafe for a lamb pasty & a bun, English run would you believe! We eventually spent a day being shown various houses in even more various states of disrepair, the choices were either buy one to do up or dont be such a tight bastard! The tight bastard won!

We discussed it for a while, Liz & i liked the idea of holidays away from the tourist areas & more importantly away from gobby drunk English people (I fit this description very well myself). We decided to go for it, narrowed it down to 3 properties then agreed a very good price on one that needed the least doing to it & more importantly had an indoor bog! We spent a few more days with Fuzzy & Sue, we went out for Sue's birthday for a nice meal & then had to fly back to reality.

The reality being, oh shit did we just agree to buy a house in the middle of nowhere in a country we know bugger all about?

Yep, we now need to try to learn a bit of the language & look oaround to see what is in the area.

If there is a god, his name is Mr Google!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bulgaria or bust.

Thinking of buying property abroad? No? Neither did we, but friends of ours took the plunge & it got me thinking. A year or so ago, friends Paul (Fuzzy) & Sue said they were buying a house in Bulgaria, why would anyone want to go there I thought, I now apologise to the people of Bulgaria!

So, as the months passed Fuzzy & Sue sold everything they could & moved to Bulgaria, I was under the impression it was just a holiday home but there you go. They seemed to have done their homework & off they went driving across Europe in 2 vans in April of last year.

Then along comes a mutual friend of our called Ray, he said would I like to visit Fuzzy on our bikes, I thought this sounds fun. So after a bit of planning & working out costs we decided to go in June. After a few words with the wife who kindly pointed out 2 things, firstly she said your bike is 25 years old & secondly your back is f***ed, which one will give out first? She had a point!
After some more research, the 3000 mile round trip looked a bit expensive when you totalled up the cost of fuel, hotels & ferries etc. So it was an £85 return with Easy Jet!

June arrived & I booked an economy small car to collect from Sofia airport, which stated Corsa or similar & for less than £60 for the week who knows what to expect. I picked Ray up at around 2.30am & drove to Gatwick. A rather overpriced breakfast at the airport later & we were on the plane, 3hrs later were in Bulgaria where it was rather warm. We were met at the airport by the hire car rep where we were handed the keys to a 4 year old Chevrolet Aveo, which was basically an Astra sized saloon & a bit bigger than expected. A quick look round the car revealed front tyres that were as bald as me! The response from the rep was, its Bulgaria & it is what it is! With that we drove off following Fuzzy's very comprehensive directions.

We drove from the airport out of Sofia through a Gypsy village which was interesting then onto a dual carriage way & off on the open road. Head towards Botvegrad then turn off towards Montana & Vidin, then the schoolboy gigggles started. As we passed Botvegrad we saw several women in various lay-bys wearing bikinis & heels selling their wares, this we found was common on the outskirts of most larger towns, it kind of relieved (for want of a better word) the boredom of the 3 hour drive. We needed to get food for when we arrived at Fuzzy & Sue's so we found a Lidl in Vratsa & stocked up with something that resembled cheese, some bread, crisps & a large quantity of beer, Ray pointed out afterwards that he didn't really drink much, luckily i drink like a man thats just got out of prison!  

We arrived around 5pm at Fuzzy & Sue's & had the grand tour of the lodge & the garden & then went to the local shop come bar where we were introduced to the local brew called Rakia which everybody makes & then takes to the bar. We were given a shot of Rakia which took the enamel off my teeth & removed the lining of my throat, but being a polite English boy i said thank you it was very nice. The response to this was oh, he likes it & more came my way. I don'tremember much else!

I awoke the next morning feeling slightly jaded to the sound of very loud birds singing & a cockerel that really was taking the piss! We spent the week being shown the local area, Lom is a nice small town with a few restaurants & bars, a nice bakery where I was most amused by Sue trying to buy a loaf of bread. Now speaking Bulgarian is like any other foreign language, you learn certain key words & phrases & do the best you can. the most difficult bit is yes & no. Da is yes & nay is no, simple you may think until your head moves, nodding in Bulgaria means no & shaking your head means yes. Now bare in mind that since most of us could crawl we learn the basic yes & no head gestures, welcome to Bulgaria where  it is now a game. So we are in the bakery & Sue asks for a loaf of bread whist pointing to one she likes the look of, the young shop assistant acknowledges by pointing to the same loaf when Sue says yes & nods her head, the confused assistant moves to the adjacent loaf & points where Sue  says no & shakes her head, the confused shop assistant moves back to the first loaf, i am now in tears of laughter & whisper to Sue keep your bloody head still. At this point i have to walk out, she emerges a few minutes later slightly red faced but clutching her bread.

As the week went on we visited Vidin, & went round the market amazed by the size of the vegetables & how cheap everything was. We spent all day looking at tools, household items & basically everything whilst complaining about how we are ripped off in the UK. So after a week of drinking beer at around 40p a bottle i dont want to leave. The area we are in is very rural & lacks all the creature comforts we are used to & i loved it! So the week comes to an end & Ray & I drive back to the airport giggling at the ladies in the lay-bys (£7 a go allegedly!). We've had a great week, the weather has been hot but rainy at times & has been eaten alive by mosquito's, i have not been bitten at all which i put down to my higher than average blood alcohol level & poorly controlled diabetes, which incidentally is due to my higher than average blood alcohol level!

We arrive back at Gatwick & head straight to McDonalds!

I now have to convince the wife to come to Bulgaria with me!