Grape growing has a very long history in Bulgaria, Bulgarians being most famous for their wine – making, especially in the 1980s when the country was the world’s second largest wine exporter. Another well-known Bulgarian particularity is the beauty of its women, the striking physical appearance of eastern – european women being wildly known and appreciated.
Most foreigners see Bulgarians as some very traditional people who value the conventional, old fashioned family structure. The tightness of family bonds reflects in the fact that it is very common for relatives, oftentimes of different generations, to share a household. The Bulgarians are also thought of as living in houses with large gardens where they grow their own fruits and vegetables, as well as raise animals such as hens, geese, pigs or cows. About themselves, the locals say they are fun – loving, kind – hearted and hospitable people with a great sense of humor.
Bulgarian social etiquette is not very rigorous but highly regards the respect shown to elders, who are addressing as Mr. or Mrs. followed by their surname. Also, when visiting someone it is considered common courtesy to bring a small gift or flowers, but not chrysanthemums, lilies or gladiolas which are usually bought at funerals.
Apart from wine – drinking, Bulgarians often enjoy Ayryan, a non-alcoholic mixture of yogurt and water, which is usually consumed with salt. The yoghurt produced here is unique in the world due to the bacteria used in creating it, Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria only existing in this country’s atmosphere. One of the most interesting characteristics of Bulgarians is their peculiar, reverse use of gesturing “yes” and “no”, the locals shake their head when they mean “yes” and nod when they mean “no” which can be very confusing for foreigners.
One of the places one must visit in Bulgaria is Rila Monastery, an edifice built in the 10th century near Rila Mountains, 1147 meters above sea level, part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Its official name being “The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila”, it is the largest eastern – orthodox monastery in the country. Another popular tourist attraction in Bulgaria is Kovachevitsa village, a town known for its pittoresque aspect, founded in the 17th century. Kovachevitsa has been declared an “Architectural and Historical Reserve of National Importance” and it presently has only 30 constant residents, most of the houses being used as summer getaways.