Holidaymakers often favour the Mediterranean or the Caribbean when it comes to booking their holidays. But, have you ever thought about visiting Bulgaria? This quirky Balkan country has a lot to offer and it has made some outstanding contributions to the world, from the invention of the first electronic digital computer to the creation of yoghurt. Here are five good reasons to visit Bulgaria in 2016.
1. To savour authentic food
Did you know that Bulgarians invented yoghurt? Yes, the creation of that creamy dessert eaten around the world is attributed to Bulgaria. Yoghurt is just one example of the authentic food that you’ll enjoy while you’re out in Bulgaria. Another speciality is the affectionately named dish ‘Rachel’, a candied pumpkin dish that goes well with yoghurt and dates all the way back to the Ottoman Empire.
Bulgaria is perfectly suited to vegetarians, since Bulgarians love vegetables. In fact, they place more emphasis on veggies than on fish dishes – which might come as a surprise to those who thought it was all about the seafood here. Stuffed peppers filled with feta cheese and eggs are a favourite in summer.
2. To feel surrounded by history
Bulgaria was founded in the 7th century and it is one of the oldest states in Europe. Even before Bulgaria was created, the area was influenced by the Ancient Roman empire, the Byzantine empire (the eastern half of the Roman empire) and the Greek empire, as traders and travellers went about their business there.
Sites such as the Roman amphitheatre in Plovdiv remain standing. This 2nd century amphitheatre once held as many as 6,000 spectators. The venue still plays host to special events today.
Of course, before the Romans, Bulgaria was inhabited by the Thracians. At the Archaeological Museum in Burgas, just a couple of hours from Plovdiv, you can see the coffin of a Thracian chieftain!
3. To follow in the footsteps of innovators
John Vincent Atanasoff is credited as the inventor of the first electronic digital computer, the ABC. And guess what? His roots are in Bulgaria! The late physicist was the son of a Bulgarian immigrant, Ivan Atanasov, an electrical engineer who moved to the US with his uncle after his own parents died during an uprising in Bulgaria in the late 19th century.
It was the gift of a slide rule (a mathematical tool) that triggered Atanasoff’s curiosity in calculating devices. He used the device to solve simple maths problems. From there he became interested in solving more complex equations and working with calculus, logarithms and algebra. An electrical engineering course in university sparked his interest in electronics and he went on to bring about the computer revolution.
4. Bulgaria gave us the Cyrillic alphabet
That puzzling little alphabet was created in the first Bulgarian empire, back in the 9th century. Two brothers, St Cyril and St Methodius, are believed to have developed the Cyrillic alphabet, and the system takes its name from St Cyril himself.
5. To enjoy the beaches
Sunny Beach is a resort town on the Black Sea coast and it is a proud Blue Flag bearer. In the summer, temperatures reach more than 30°C. Sunny Beach isn’t just a town with a fine beach though: it’s also a place for adventures. Four-wheel drive outings, banana boating, parasailing, go karting and fairground attractions are all on offer here. If you prefer something a little gentler, you can play tennis, volleyball, trot around on horseback, or simply paddle in the sea and lounge on beautiful sands.
Bulgaria is a much overlooked holiday destination that has an intriguing history and amazing beaches. Take a trip to Bulgaria with us and you’ll see what makes it so special.
Images taken from Thomson Holidays and iStock