Friday, May 14, 2010

Recipe #10: Миш-Маш (Mish-Mash)

Миш-Маш (Mish-Mash) is another extremely popular and simple to prepare Bulgarian dish.

3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 red peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of oil
½ pound of сирене (feta cheese), crumbled
3 eggs
fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and the peppers and cook until the onions are golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the cheese and eggs and cook for another 3 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

A plate of Миш-Маш with a couple slices of toast. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Созопол (Sozopol)

I ended my whirlwind tour of the Bourgas area with a day trip to Созопол (Sozopol). Sozopol is a bit like Nessebar’s overlooked little sister. Almost everything I liked about Nessebar was present in Sozopol, and almost everything I disliked was either less apparent or altogether absent. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Passing thunderstorms made the timing of my visit less than ideal, but, by mid-afternoon, the clouds had parted and the sun was shining bright. Taking it all in and savoring the mental images, I reluctantly pulled myself away and headed back to Bourgas to catch the train home. All in all, it was a great four-day weekend.

Come with me on a walk around town.


After partying on St. George’s Day in Pomorie and then taking a walk through history on Nessebar, I felt the need to commune with nature. A visit to PODA , a natural area protected by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, fit the bill. Covering 100 hectares, PODA is an internationally significant site which has played host to more than 250 species of birds.

Located along Europe's second largest bird migration route, the Via Pontica, PODA is best visited during migration (early spring or fall) when 100% of the White Pelican population (over 40,000) and approximately 75% of the European White Stork population (over 250,000) can be observed moving through the area, along with thousands of raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl, and other species. The timing of our visit wasn't the best, but it was still a great day to get out and enjoy a spectacular spring day in Bulgaria.

A view from the PODA Conservation Center deck.

PODA is believed to be the only place in the world where Great Cormorants nest on electricity pylons instead of in trees and reed beds. A single pylon can host up to eighty nests, and there are more than 300 active nests at PODA.

A number of cormorants still nest in more traditional fashion.

The area also is home to a small number of globally endangered Pygmy Cormorants.

Common Terns recently returned to PODA, displacing the less aggressive Pygmy Cormorants from the artificial nesting platforms provided as a substitute for lost natural sites.

There were only three species of ducks present on our visit: Mallard, Common Shelduck, and Common Pochard. This is a pair of Common Pochards.

Both House Martins and Barn Swallows nest on the Conservation Center building. It's amazing how quickly they build their nests. These House Martins were actively nest building the entire time we were there. As you can see, the nests are built one mouthful of mud at a time.

While the number of birds we saw was disappointing, there were plenty of butterflies, spiders, and wildflowers to distract us.

Несебър (Nessebar)

Like so many other popular tourist sites, Несебър (Nessebar) is like a beautiful girl who wears too much makeup. She’s still lovely and captivating, but she’s too overdone to be genuine and much of the originality and uniqueness that define her beauty is lost behind the facade. A victim of her own popularity and narcissism, you can’t help but wonder what she would be like if she wasn’t so adored by others and so in love with herself.

There is plenty of information about Nessebar online and in print. I won’t regurgitate that here. What I will say is, despite all of Nessebar's flaws, I was nothing but happy the entire time I was meandering around its cobblestone streets. In short, it was a great day to be alive and a great day to be in Bulgaria.

A short causeway links Nessebar to the mainland. On one side of the causeway is an old windmill. On the other side is a monument. At the base of the causeway are the remains of old ramparts. A little further on is a small marina full of fishing boats and a few sail boats. The photos speak for themselves.

Nessebar is famous, among other things, for its many historic churches. Some have been restored; others not so much.

The town also features numerous National Revival era homes.

Restored homes, and copycat architecture, now house cafes and shops.

Nessebar is an old fishing village, and some folks still make a living as fishermen.

The cleaned and gutted fish end up at the market.

The guts end up as food for the ubiquitous Yellow-legged Gulls.

Those which weren't fighting over fish guts seemed to be mocking me.

Mute Swans were common along the jetties.

And large flocks occasionally flew by.

Fortunately, I wasn't standing in this Great Cormorant's line of fire.