Modern Storytelling

Storytelling may seem like something only elders, relatives, or old friends do when they decide to have some drinks and kick back.  But even in today’s changing world, storytelling is still a necessary part of all cultures.  Although we may not realize it though, there are many modern forms of storytelling in disguise.

One example is spoken word and poetry jams.  Literature uses the language to express stories as well.  But in the case of spoken word and jams, the experience is supported by performance of the text in a genuine way rather than relying on readers to create the author’s world in their minds.

Spoken word is often performed at open mic events, poetry jams, or even in musical recordings.  You may find that a lot of today’s performers even choose to incorporate rhythm in the speaking of their created lines, setting a refreshing pace.  This is not always the case however; sometimes other factors such as tone and intonation may change more depending on the purpose of the piece.

If you want to experience a taste of storytelling right in your own town before taking that next step to seeing Varna, Bulgaria we highly recommend this slice of modern storytelling.

A Few Bulgarian Dishes

Bulgaria is a European nation, but many oversees guests are surprised to find that our cuisine may share similarities with that of some Middle Eastern dishes.  Did you know that our country is a substantial exporter of lambs, and many folks here consume more yogurt per capita compared to other places in Europe?  Here are a few common dishes to get you started on a culinary journey to Bulgaria.

Do you like cheese?  How about feta cheese on your salad?  Especially in the United States, finding quality artesian cheese can be costly or a fruitless search.  But in Bulgaria, we have a special cheese called Sirene, also known as “white brine sirene.”  It is made from a goat, cow, sheep, or  a combination of them.  It is crumbly and used as table cheese, for baking, or in salads.

Soups and stews are a common staple to have in your recipe books, as they are enjoyed around the world.  Teleshko Vareno is a traditional Bulgarian beef stew best eaten in cold winter weather.  It is generally made from the shin cut of the cow, and is simmered for three to four hours with vegetables.  When it is finally done, everything will have absorbed each other’s flavors for this classic delight.

Bulgaria also has a lot of sausages in their cuisine.  One type of sausage often served as a cold cut, is Lukanka.  It is made from pork and veal, and resembles salami.  Sometimes it has a spicy flavor as well, for that extra kick.

Traveler’s Safety

Bulgaria is a very safe country to travel in comparison to other countries in Europe whose metropolises attract crowds of tourists.  It is often in popular traveler destinations that people will wait for those new to the area to let their guard down.  Here are some tips that you can use anywhere you may go in the world.  These will help you not to draw the wrong kind of attention on your vacation.

Rather than a backpack, instead invest in a tough cross-body small bag.  Ideally, when you keep the body the bag close to your body, no one will be able to try and pickpocket you or take your belongings.  Some people will suggest wearing a backpack backwards, but this does not look natural and would most likely alert others of your foreign-to-Bulgaria habits.  Also be aware of what others are wearing.  Although your flip flops may be comfy and convenient to pack, you may find that in comparison to the United States, most other developed nations appreciate at least crisp jeans and a top that is a bit nicer than a t-shirt (like a knit top.)

When it comes to walking the streets in a new place, we would advise not doing so alone.  Travel insurance is a worthwhile purchase when going abroad.  You may know to watch out for suspicious alleys and areas that are not lit well, but having another person that you know can help you to make more informed decisions.  We hope to see you soon in Varna.  Safe travels!

Folk and Storytelling

Artists say that they “get lost in the feeling” when they perform, but there is so much thought and concentration involved.  We may not realize it when we are watching from the audience, but encompassed in folk songs and dances are a whole world of stories.

Before television, radio, video games, or even electricity… before words were even printed or written down– in order to remember stories, civilizations had artists that were designated storytellers.  Now, I don’t know if you have ever tried to memorize a page of text by heart, but it is nearly impossible to do so without the text being dialogue (as in a play), or without a sense of rhythm.

Storytelling in a more obvious form is plays, but we already know that remembering all the lines is a struggle.  Heck,  people used to hold contests between performers to see who could remember the most of Homer’s Odyssey from memory (think very, very old-school American Idol.)

But there is a type of storytelling that was also made for the common man or woman to join in, and that is folklore through song.  The lyrics in folk tunes are usually about the everyday occurrences, struggles, and feats of the working class– it was not music for nobles.  Expert folk singers today need an understanding of the emotion felt by those long ago when performing historically relevant pieces; it can be difficult because amongst our modern technological advancements, grasping the perspective of ancestors seems far off in the distance.  All the more reason to visit Varna, Bulgaria’s folklore festival this season.

Varna Travel for Beginners

Many travelers, especially from the United States, do not include Bulgaria on their list of places to go when they visit Europe.  It really is a shame though because Varna has so much to offer:  the International Folklore Festival (of course,) lots of hiking, beautiful ocean views, and several museums.

A very solid piece of advice we would give someone just for a little insurance, is to become more familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet before the trip.  Although Varna, Bulgaria is the third largest city and English speakers will be more plentiful than smaller areas, it is much easier to be able to read signs and maps on your own.

Getting into Bulgaria is not too difficult, and people are friendly as long as you are respectful.  Many countries do not require a travel visa to enter Bulgaria (in fact the list is so long, it would take a whole page.)  Varna is actually the only city in Bulgaria that is a cruise destination.  Imagine spending your cruise with a little more quiet and calm than you could ever get back home.

This summer vacation, consider getting more cultured in a completely unfamiliar place.  In August, Varna will be the center of folklore, art, and beautiful scenery.  Rather than going to a tourist trap filled with fanny packs and jacked prices, you can enjoy what this fine city has to offer.