The Balkans / Балканите

  The Balkans. The highest peak in the Balkans is Musala in Bulgaria. The U.S. State Department has a Balkan region policy that includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia but not Bulgaria. Politics, semantics, diplomacy.   The Balkans, geographically speaking, is also referred to as the Balkan Peninsula, easternmost of … Continue reading The Balkans / Балканите

Look Back in Laughter / Обърни се със смях на зад

I need to read more in Bulgarian. I have been saying this since the mid-1990s. Had I been reading in Bulgarian steadily since, my vocabulary would be far richer. Thus just before our summer vacation in Bulgaria ended, I marched into Booktrading, my favorite bookstore in Sofia, and asked the lovely young woman there for … Continue reading Look Back in Laughter / Обърни се със смях на зад

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Large countries presume their power and importance. Small countries presume nothing. They might rely on bluster, ardently asserting their strategic location. They might point to a glorious history when once they led an empire, or two, and belligerently note that what was taken from them oh so many years ago could just as easily be … Continue reading Big Things Come in Small Packages

Mountains and Rivers / Планини и Реки

Река Искър (Iskur River) starts in the Rila Mountain range and runs a long path north, widening and deepening until it ends in the Danube. In the beginning, you can cross the Iskur easily by using the large granite rocks as stepping stones and those same stones make the Iskur gurgle and run white, spin … Continue reading Mountains and Rivers / Планини и Реки

Rila Monastery /Рилски Манастир

I visited the Rila Monastery the first time in September 1987. I was in Bulgaria to meet my future in-laws and they took me to what is certainly the most famous of monasteries in a country full of them and what is likely the most famous site in the entire country. We walked around within … Continue reading Rila Monastery /Рилски Манастир

Belogradchik / Белоградчик

We went to Belogradchik the other day. Actually we went to two Belogradchiks, one timeless and one frozen in time. It’s not the same thing at all. There is Belogradchik the ancient fortress and even more ancient rock formations. Then there is Belogradchik the town, which seems unaware that the world—and most of Bulgaria—has moved … Continue reading Belogradchik / Белоградчик

Fellow Travelers

Recently I picked up a favorite book, What Am I Doing Here? by Bruce Chatwin, to re-read after many years of its sitting on the shelf. Something caught my eye in an essay on André Malraux: “His flair for personal publicity never deserted him; haranguing meetings of the Front Populaire; dashing with [André] Gide to … Continue reading Fellow Travelers

I Don’t Believe It

The tie between journalism and democracy is longstanding, profound, complex, and confounding. If people are to have the right to vote, they must have sufficient knowledge on the issues that concern them in order to have a viewpoint. They must equally have sufficient knowledge of the politicians vying for office to know which of these … Continue reading I Don’t Believe It

Triavna / Трявна

We were planning a trip through central Bulgaria when my husband’s cousin told us we couldn’t miss Triavna. “It’s lovely,” she said, “and you must have the coffee on sand.” That was irresistible and we duly included Triavna on the trip map we plotted. Triavna was well worth the stop. We loved the beautifully preserved … Continue reading Triavna / Трявна


Kazanluk, Bulgaria, is probably most famous for two places not precisely in Kazanluk. One is the UNESCO world heritage site of the Thracian Tomb of Kazanluk. It was discovered in 1944 and you shouldn’t miss it. UNESCO calls the Thracian tomb “a unique aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of the Thracian creative spirit. This … Continue reading Seuthopolis