New regulations for hotels which host all-inclusive holidays proposed

A new regulation has been proposed by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, which will forbid  the hosting of all-inclusive holidays by hotels having less than 4 stars. The argument of the agency is that the hotels with less than 4 stars do not have enough capacity in their restaurants for their visitors to get and eat their meals without queuing.

All-inlusive food

What are you going to think if you are served food like this in your hotel?
Don’t worry. This is also all inclusive food, but it is diet food served in a Bulgarian hospital.

Some all inclusive operators opposed to the idea saying that there are hotels from the past, built by the old regulations, having 2 ar 3 stars, which have some small deficiencies which do not allow them to get 4 stars, but they still have big enough restaurants.

The Food Safety Agency is subordinated to the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, although the tourism is a prerogative of the Ministry of Economics, Industry and Tourism. There were some indications there is some disagreement with the idea of the Food Safety Agency in both ministries.

It is also unclear what will happen with the reservations for all inclusive holidays in 2 and 3-star hotels if the idea of the Food Safety Agency comes into effect.

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How to prepare Banitsa

The banitsa (also spelled banica, banitza ot баница) is one of the most traditional Bulgarian dishes. It is made out of wrapped layers of rolled out dough, with a filler of white cheese and eggs. It is easy to prepare, as well as resistant to changes of the quantities of the products.


A delicious banitsa just taken out of the oven.

Below is the inventory you need for making banitsa:

  • 1 pack of standard Bulgarian rolled out dough
  • 5 eggs
  • 500-700 grams of Bulgarian white (feta) cheese
  • 200-300 millilitres of Bulgarian yoghurt
  • 2/3 flattened tea spoon of baking soda
  • 110 millilitres of vegetable oil
  • 2 pots
  • 1 pan
  • 1 glass
  • 1 brush

First, put the contents of 5 eggs in a pot. Separate the yolk of one of the eggs  in a the glass for later use.

In the pot you should squeeze into small pieces about 500-700 grams of feta cheese, known in Bulgaria as sirene. Scramble well the eggs with the cheese.

In another pot you should put about 250 grams of Bulgarian yoghurt, known in Bulgaria as kiselo mlyako. Put inside 2/3 flattened tea spoon of baking soda. Stir well so that the soda is spread in the whole volume of the yoghurt.

Put the yoghurt into the cheese-and-eggs mixture, together with about 100 millilitres of cooking vegetable oil, and stir well. This will be the filler for the banitsa.

Take the layers of the rolled out dough 3 by 3, spread filler on each stack of 3, wrap them, and arrange them in a spiral or in circles in a pan which has been greased with vegetable oil on its bottom and inside walls. A standard pack of rolled out dough from a Bulgarian shop should be just enough to fill a standard pan.

Once the banitsa has been arranged into the pan, mix the yolk saved for later use with 1/4 part water, stir well, and paint the whole top of the banitsa with it using the brush.

Bake the banitsa in a furnace or oven heated to 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes.

Once the banitsa is ready, by the tradition, you can serve it with a glass of yoghurt.

(c) 2011

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Creatures and Bulgarian features

Yesterday, 17th of September 2011, my daughter, my wife and I went to the Anaconda – House of Reptiles travelling show, hosted in the National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria.

The BTV national television had announced in this article in Bulgarian called “National Palace of Culture Becomes a Jungle” that there would be a reptile show in the National Palace of Culture. According to the article the tickets would cost 10 BGN, and on 17th of September 2011, Saturday, they had to cost half the price, with the day announced as a family day. I and my wife decided to bring our daughter to the show, as she is interested in snakes, turtles and and most of all, in crocodiles.

The event coincided with a congress of a political party, so it was a bit funny to have the political event and the reptile event at the same time in the same building. I took a picture of the posters of the show and the congress being close together. The show also coincided with the Day of Sofia, and there was a temporary scene installed near the building, with an on-going performance of middle to low quality singers.

The Entrance of the National Palace of Culture

The Entrance of the National Palace of Culture

I was a little confused to understand that the article of BTV was misleading. The tickets for adults cost 10 BGN, and the tickets for children cost 8 BGN. Family day, wasn’t it? I wondered if we would come on the next day, would the tickets cost 20 BGN for adults and 16 BGN for children. Anyway it was late to let our daughter down after we announced her that she would be able to see the reptiles. I bought the tickets, which were for irrelevant amount of money. No receipt was issued for the payment. It started to stink like tax evasion.

On the entrance there were warnings against taking pictures. We thought the warnings were justified as the animals would be teased by the flashlights and the sounds of the cameras.

When we entered our first impression was that that the place was overcrowded, probably because of the combination of the number of people inside with the low ceiling of the hall. The air was partly exhausted.

The first thing to see were 3 huge turtles. They were placed in a net fence through which they could be touched, and some visitors were taking advantage of this. A little further there was a crocodile in a plastic pool with shallow water.  The pool was covered with a net. Both the bottom of the pool and the crocodile itself were covered with coins. Yes, coins. The coin throwing is a strange Bulgarian tradition, applied for pools, when there is something interesting associated with the pool. In this case the crocodile the coins, being touched by many people, could bring an infection to the animal. There was nobody from the staff taking any action to prevent this.

There were many snakes, lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, crabs, centipedes and frogs in glass cages. Many of the cages were dirty from outside because of the finger touches of the visitors. I saw nobody from the staff cleaning the glass or preventing the touching so that the cages can be really transparent.

Many people were taking pictures with cameras with flashlights and cell phones. Many of the animals had hidden in the parts of their cages which were not visible, probably because of the distress caused. I saw nobody from the staff to prevent taking pictures with flashlights which tease the animals.

Some tough guys from the visitors even raised the cover of the crocodile pool trying to touch the crocodile, disregarding the presence of children around it. I cannot think what could happen if the crocodile was more active. There was nobody from the staff even to make a remark to the guys.

There was one 2-headed turtle, which was looking real. A 2-headed snake, which was announced as the main attraction for the show, did not look real. The second head was somehow perpendicular to the body and looked like it was somehow artificially attached to the main body.

On the way back I made some pictures of the neglected infrastructure around the National Palace of Culture.

A cable sticking out of a handrail near the National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria

A cable sticking out of a handrail near the National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria

These pictures are from the stairs which leads to the underground parking of the National Palace of Culture.

A trap near the National Palace of Culture

A trap near the National Palace of Culture

The area is poorly lightened, and the stairs to which the handrail with the sticking cable is attached, leads to a water collector with removed lattice. This is more dangerous than the reptiles in the National Palace of Culture.

Let me summarize the visit. My daughter was quite fascinated, as we did not ruin her experience. I and my wife, knowing the facts above, were not. Too expensive for the experience, misleading marketing, crowd totally out of control, miserable conditions for the animals, no receipt for the payment.

I would not visit any similar event soon, and I would not advise anybody to visit the Anaconda – House of Reptiles show.

(c) 2011

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500 Russian tourists stuck at the airport after a vacation in Bulgaria

Last week about 500 Russian tourists got stuck on the Varna and Bourgas airports after the Bulgaria Air company cancelled charter flights for Alma Tour Air, a subsidiary company of Alma Tour. According to Bulgaria Air the flights were cancelled due to debt of Alma Tour Air of 7 million bulgarian levs owed to the flight operator, which is about 5 million USD, or about 150 million Russian rubles, and the tourists should turn to the tour operator for issues related to the cancelled flights.

After a short hesitation the tour operator started handing out food, drinks and baby supplies on the airport and accommodated the tourists to hotels.

The crisis between the two Bulgarian companies prompted the reaction of the Bulgarian regulators an the Russian government, who sent officials to handle the situation. A Bulgarian government official said the government can compensate the tourists, but threatened the two companies with revocation of their operation permits unless they resolve the crisis by their-selves.  It also sent the government aircraft to transport children, elderly, ill people and pregnan women. About 80 people were transported to Moscow.

On 11th of September 2011, Sunday, in a TV interview, an official of the Bulgaria Air said that all blocked Russian tourists will be transported. It is expected that part of the tourists will have to stay until Monday or Tuesday.

Some of the tourists left Bulgaria by using other airlines at expense of their local travel agencies.

An investigation of the Bulgarian law enforcement authorities is under way.

In the meanwhile the Turkish Airlines started an aggressive TV advertisement campaign.

Alma Tour Fly Ltd. is registered in the Commercial Register of the Bulgarian Registration Agency with a capital of 5000 BGN. The yearly report for year 2010 shows an overall deterioration of of the short-term financial status of the company compared to the status for 2009. It might be a result of the decision leasing of two airplanes.

The mother company, Alma Tour – BG AD is one of the biggest Bulgaria tour operators, founded back in 1991. It has subsidiaries in many countries.

Bulgaria Air is the national air transporter of the Republic of Bulgaria.

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Escherichia coli found in the sea water of Popski Beach in Tsarevo

The Regional Health Inspection Authority of Burgas found Escherichia coli bacteria in the sea water near the Popski Beach in Tsarevo. The probes were taken two times in July 2011 and two times in August 2011.

Escherichia coli bacteria

Escherichia coli bacteria. Credit: Janice Haney, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Escherichia coli concentration on 11th July 2011 was 539 cfu in100 ml of water. On 25th July the concentration was 574 cfu in 100 ml of water. On 8th August 2011 there were 24000 coliforms in 100 ml of water, with fecal coliforms 2100 per 100 ml of water, Escherichia coli concentration was 524 cfu per 100 ml of water, and the intestinal enterococci concentration was 467 cfu per 100 ml of water. On 11th August 2011 the intestinal enterococci concentration was 347 cfu in 100 ml of water.

The Regional Health Inspection Authority informed the Reginal Inspection for the Environment and the Waters, the Basin Direction for the Black Sea Region , as well as the District Governor for the Burgas district. It is expected that the beach will be closed in order to prevent the tourists and the local people from getting infections.

According to investigations made in 2010, the pollution comes from the Popska river, which is used as an outlet of the waste water treating plant of the town of Tsarevo, which does not work well in the summer season due to heavy load.

Escherichia coli is a bacterium normally found in the intestinal tract of the humans as non-pathogenic strain. There are pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli which cause many gastroenterological diseases, meningitis and others.  Infections with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli were reported recently in Germany.

It is a common problem for the tourists on the Bulgarian Black Sea beach to get intestinal infections. Luckily the infections do not take more than 1-3 days, without complications, in most of the cases.

Note: CFU or cfu, the Colony-Forming Unit, is a measure of the concentration of bacteria. The bacteria are counted indirectly, by the number of colonies they form in an appropriate environment by binary fission.

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Balconing? Playful? Think Again

What is balconong? It jumping to a pool or to the sea directly from a hotel room, a balcony or from the stairs. My first thought were that it is a cool idea. Then I came upon an article which said that a man from Poland fell off the fourth  floor a house in Obzor. He eventually died on the scene. Another 17 year-old English boy fell off the 4th floor of his hotel in Sunny Beach and also died.  They had both drunken enough alcohol to become irrelevant to the situation in which they were.

In another article I read an 18 year-old German tourist fell off the 6-th floor of his hotel in Golden Sands resort. The German was alive when taken to the hospital, but with heavy injuries of his chest, head and limbs. Friends of the young man think the person was very drunk, as they were drunk too and they don’t remember how the accident happened.

Did they try balconing? I sought the term balconing in a search engine. I came upon some videos which were interesting. Other videos were a bit worrying. One wrong step and the person who was doing the balconing would fall on the cement floor from 3, 5 or 10 meters height.

Then I came upon the most distressful video I have ever seen. A person tried to throw himself off a railing into the sea which was 10 to 15 meters below. Everything was going nice, but the person hit his head into the cement cement bank. There were some minutes from the hospital. His upper and down jaws were split into 2 and from the gapping hole his tongue was moving. It was disturbing, distressful and disgusting.

I felt sorry that there are such persons who want to play but they do not assess the circumstances and the environment. They cause bitter sorrow to their friends and relatives. There are people who play with cars on the public roads, causing injuries and death not only to their selves, but to the innocent people they encounter. These persons spend a lot of public funds to provide relief for the results of their actions, these persons cause death. Ant they get minimal sentences as the court thinks they had no intent.

How can a person have a license to drive a car, and to have no intent of killing anybody when doing dangerous driving? Does the human life have less value because somebody wanted to play with it?

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What do Ikea and Sunny Beach have in common?

In the home page of this web site, I stated that the facts of having many people gathered together and the existence of nice night bars where the alcohol is cheap and many people who want to party bring a lot of young people from Europe to spend their summer holidays in Bulgaria. Recently I came upon an commercial which supports this opinion. Just watch:
Would you let your kids go to Bulgaria alone?

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Hotel, Restaurant and Shop Owners Protest Against the Situation in Sunny Beach

Many owners of hotels, restaurants and shops, suppliers as well as taxi drivers in Sunny Beach participated in protests against the duplicate costs they have to pay directly or indirectly for services to Sunny Beach PLC, while they pay taxes for the same services to the municipal and state authorities.

In the past the infrastructure of the resort got privatised to Sunny Beach PLC, however it is used to serve hotels, restaurants etc. out of the Sunny Beach PLC ownership. The protesters want the infrastructure to become municipal property. They prepared a list of demands.

According to Sunny Beach PLC, they act according to the Bulgarian law. They also said that by the restrictions imposed on the access to the infrastructure they implement the policy of the state for Sunny Beach.

Sunny Beach is one of the Bulgarian best known resorts, where many of the hotels have all-inclusive offers. The tourists are not likely to feel anything from the tension.

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Food In All Inclusive Hotels In Bulgaria Under Scrutiny

A dish served in Zheravna.

A dish served in Zheravna.

The Food Agency from the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Foods will initiate massive campaign to check the quality of the food offered in the all inclusive hotels on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The campaign will start on 10th of June 2011. In it the agency will be checking the allegation that some of the food is with passed expiration date. The conditions under which the food is stored and served will also be checked.
If the inspectors from the agency find violations of the norms for food storage or preparation, it will impose fines on the hotels. It is even possible that the agency will seal some kitchens if the violations are extensive.

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