Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A very positive move

Bulgaria's most dangerous criminals, ringleaders, and corrupt individuals at high-ranking positions are to receive verdicts by a special Tribunal.
The tribunal will be established in the next 12 months as part of the Bill to create separate “Anti-mafia” courts to try the cases against organized crime and corruption, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, informs.
According to Tsvetanov, the drastic measure will finally eliminate criticism about the lengthy trial process, the low efficiency and the inadequate rules of the courts.
The current project provides for 100 judges and prosecutors from the teams probing the most serious crime groups in Bulgaria to become members of the Tribunal.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The skies re open

Well the crisis has ended, at least temporarily, but it has left alot of people stranded her in Bulgaria, as everywhere else.The resourceful minibus drivers came to a rescue, at a price, and people have been paying to be transported back to England etc by road.The only problem has been trying to get on a ferry in France !.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Airports Update

It has been announced that flights will recommence from Bulgaria's airports but only east and south.All flights west are suspended till maybe Thursday but the situation is officialy described as 'dynamic' and further delays could be expected.10,500 passengers are stranded at Sofia airport and the backlog gets bigger everyday.A particularly tragic case was reported on CNN regarding an American woman who has just adopted a downs syndrome child and has been told to report to the Sofia airport every morning at 4am to get on a waiting list for flights.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Property in Bulgaria

As summer is coming here is a link to my company website for those of you interested in the Bulgarian property market !.Just click on the title.

UK Election 2010

Well May sees the UK elections.My background is in politics and the Labour Party and, moreover, in Barking where the BNP has high, or in their case low, hopes.
Barking is my home town and the fact that these monstrosities have made ground there makes me nauseaous.
The mathematics and the sheer number of candidates make any predictions futile, but I wish all friends standing for election the best of luck. Further information can be obtained on www.lbbd.gov.uk. I have a sneaking suspicion that the good guys will win the day and normal politics will return there.Anybody who wants to help the anti bnp cause can go to the hope not hate website or to barking labour party. 


As with everywhere else in Europe the airports in Bulgaria are closed.Its interesting to observe the sheer power of nature.I think we are just lucky that it did not happen in the tourist season.However CNN informs me that the volcano situation could go on for a long time and the world is paralysed.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Easy Hotel, Sofia

Time for a quick mention of the hotel I stayed in in Sofia.The Easy Hotel is located between Slivnitsa and Alexander Stombiliiski Boulevard, about 10 minutes from the main railway and bus stations.It is part of the Easyjet franchise and, in winter, a standard room starts at 10 Euros a night (if reserved in advance, otherwise it is 19 Euros).Summer rates are 29 Euros a night.There are over 50 rooms, most are the 'standard' size which means that they are sea cabin style.There is a double bed, a tv, a bathroom and a small area to hang things. The rooms are small but functional, and the hotel is only 10-15 minutes walk from the centre.Close by there is a pizzeria and a chinese restaurant.
The hotel itself has some vending machines but no bar or restaurant, most things such as access to the tv or wi-fi internet are extras.
For a european capitol city this hotel is great value.Thoroughly recommended.

The smoking gun....

Having told everybody that it was a model of financial probity the Bulgarian government has revealed that the outgoing Socialist government authorised contracts worth billions in its final days in office.This has pushed the percentage of debt as GDP way over the limit for application to the Euro 'waiting room'. There is now absolutely no chance of Bulgarian adopting the Euro in 2013.This is a major blow to the stability of the Bulgarian economy.
The earliest they can adopt the european currency is 2014.This what happen when losing politicians loot the Treasury.

Summer is coming !

Lovely weather in my corner of North East Bulgaria today.Officially it is 15C but feels a lot warmer than that.I spent the morning cleaning up the garden, there is still a lot of builders rubble left over from the new roof and the pool.I borrowed a wheelbarrow (kolichka) off a friend and spent an hour and a half labouring away.All the rubble will make good hardstanding for some car parking I thinking of putting in.

Its quite amazing how much damage the very cold winter can do, I have a few snapped and fallen off tiles on the verandah and patio and the pool has turned a very interesting shade of green.Next step is to pump it out clean the walls and floor and pump a fresh lot of water in.I could not have imagined years ago in England that I would be talking about swimming pools, it's a luxury that most normal people would never envisage in my homeland.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

On the train to Sofia

I have not travelled on a train to Bulgaria in a few years so it was with interest that I accepted a friends idea to go on the train (Vlak) to Sofia.

We duly arrived at Varna railway station and purchased out tickets for the 10.56 train.We settled in a bar which had internet access and the station was clean and well laid out.We had decided to so first class as it was Easter Monday and I anticipated that the train would be crowded with people returning home after the holidays.The first class fare was 33 leva the second class 22 leva.The carriages were a little better in first class and next to the buffet car.

We set off on time and the journey was pleasant.The scenery was nice to behold and you could move around quite easily and there was access to toilet facilities (on the buses the toilet is usually locked if they have one).

By the time we got as far as Levski and Pleven the train was VERY crowded, people were standing in the corridor in dozens.The buffet car started to run out of things, especially beer !.

We arrived at Sofia railway station at 6.48pm, total journey time 7 hours 49 minutes.In comparison an express coach stopping only at Veliko Turnovo takes  6 hours 30 minutes.

As a footnote, during the journey we passed through the picturesque Iskar Gorge, and I noticed one village was called 'Thompson'.I remembered that I knew the story behind this very english surname.

Major William Thompson was parachuted into the Balkans in 1944 to assess the impact that Bulgarian partisans were having in the fight against the Bulgarian pro-German regime.Unfortunately the group of three OAS agents discovered they had a broken radio and lost contact with the British authorities.Thompson was a committed Marxist (he was the younger brother of the historian EP Thompson) and joined the partisans in fighting with the goverment.In one engagement he was wounded, captured and, after a show trial, he was executed..he was only 24 years old !.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Bulgarian footie hits new low !

Controversy, scandals, forfeit defeats, potential relegation to Bulgaria’s third division. The tumult surrounding CSKA Sofia seemed endless, and the latest one for the books came in the form of Romanian coach Ioan Andone parting ways with the Reds on March 30 2010, less than three months after taking the job.

The incident in Mezdra has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many Reds supporters. While it appears that the majority of CSKA faithful condemned the pitch invasion and subsequent attack on players and staff, a group of fans remained proud of their actions and insisted that they had done the club a favour.

In online forums, some supporters claim that Andone’s departure is to be welcomed and that a Bulgarian manager should take the helm. Whether it should be Stoicho Mladenov or Lyuboslav Penev returning, the fans are split, and others are yet undecided.

But it was a CSKA fan shoving Andone in the chest that angered the coach and made him feel concerned for his own safety, ultimately leading him to believe that the job was not worth it.

The incident was clearly seen on television. According to Andone, as quoted by website sportal.bg, "he punched me in the chest. He was arrested afterwards, but those are not the real CSKA supporters."

The club’s financial woes, resulting in delays in players’ wages and what has been described as the "degenerating atmosphere" could have contributed to Andone’s decision. It certainly did not hurt that Andone was being offered the job of taking over Rapid Bucharest, one of the traditional powerhouses of Romanian football, now in danger of missing European qualification for a second straight year.

The days before the announcement saw the Romanian perpetually insisting that he was not going anywhere, that he was in Bulgaria for the long-haul and that he desired to "create something with a lasting legacy".

But hours after claiming that the alleged move to Rapid was "nonsense and sheer media fabrications" and that his future was in Sofia, the club called a news conference to announce the split.

Upon arrival in Bucharest, Andone met Rapid owner George Copos and agreed to take charge of the club until the end of the season. According to reports in Romanian media, the contract has an option for a three-year extension at the end of the season if Andone succeeds in qualifying Rapid for European competitions next season.

His task will be considerable considering Rapid are on 38 points, eight behind leaders CFR Cluj with 46. Perched in seventh place, they trail four points behind the coveted fifth, which offers a spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds, now occupied by Dinamo Bucharest.

In Andone’s defence, it is rather apparent that the decision to ditch CSKA was not financially motivated, his salary in Sofia being higher than the terms offered by Rapid. Andone signed for the Reds in January 2010 for 25 000 euro a month, replacing the out-of-favour Penev, while at Rapid his salary will be 45 000 euro until the end of the season.

However, it was apparent that CSKA never really enjoyed their football once the domestic championship resumed following the winter break. The team spilled points with Pirin Blagoevgrad, drew with Beroe 0-0, and could not manage to beat Levski Sofia in the "eternal derby" despite the fact that the Blues fielded a severely-depleted side featuring six youth players in the starting line-up.

The man Andone replaced, Penev, pipped in from Spain, where he will attend a match between two of his former clubs, Valencia and Atletico Madrid, in the Uefa Europa League.
"As a Red, this is painful for me, and it hurts to see the team losing so much ground in the Bulgarian championship. CSKA is losing sight of the title. And did you see what Andone did? He just left, and I knew this would happen because I follow closely what is going on with the team," Penev told sportal.bg.

The club will now be led by Adalbert Zafirov until the end of the season, according to club president Dimitar Borissov. What will follow, only time will tell. One thing is certain, however. CSKA are staring at yet another title slowly slipping away.