Monthly Archives: September 2011

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.

Posted in airport, All Inclusive, crisis, Russia, transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment