This blog is supposed to be all about Bulgaria, but for five years we were in Shenzhen, in southern China. That is the reason for the weird title, "Bulgaria with Noodles". In June of 2018, Irena and I left China and retired to Bulgaria, to our villa 60km north of Sofia and to our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. This blog is really all about some comparisons and contrasts between China and Bulgaria, two very different countries.
I promised you a big piece of news and here it is: I
have a new teaching job in Sofia, starting in January. Yes, yes, I do know that
I am supposed to be retired and in many ways I was looking forward to being
retired. Now, however, I miss the buzz of school life and there is not much for
us to do in Kalotina in the winter.
Blogger in interview mode
On Monday I went for what was supposed to be an “informal
chat” with the headmaster of St. George’s School in Sofia. The photos on the
school website make the new school building look quite posh (and huge) and the
head also has quite a posh name, Justin Kilcullen-Nichols. The salary is not quite so impressive, alas, but the important thing is that we are going to get an apartment in
Sofia as part of the deal. There is no way that I can commute from Kalotina
each day. (It is at least an hour and a half’s drive from our house to the far
side of Sofia.)
St. George’s School is an amazing place. I have seen
quite a few schools over the last thirty-something years and I have never seen
anything like this one. The theatre is most impressive, the sports hall is huge
and the swimming pool is massive! I could not believe it when I saw the special
area for entertaining visiting parents. It looks just like a nice old English
pub, with wood-panelled walls, a bar (yes, a BAR) and even a big fireplace.
Financially, it would not be such a bad thing for us
if I were to start a new job because we invested some money when we were in
Qatar and the markets are down at the moment. Oil stocks looked like a good
investment at the time, but ours are in the Far East and Trump’s trade war with
China has not helped things at all.
Some nice students showed us round
As for the idea of buying a property in Sofia, we
are not so sure about that one. Renting out your property might not be such a
secure investment in Bulgaria, especially if you are a foreigner. Maybe we might
just leave our money in the bank. It would certainly make things simpler.
We had thought of letting out our apartment in
Veliko Tarnovo, but the truth is that we just cannot bring ourselves to do it.
We spent so much money on the lovely furniture in the dining room, not to
mention the leather sofa and chair and the silk carpet in the sitting room, so
we do not want anyone else to live there.
I am sorry about the lack of photos. I promise that I will be adding some more St. George's pictures in the not-too-distant future.
You will, I am sure, be glad to know that I am
not an estate agent. Yes, I have done some silly things in my life, but I have
never worked for a real estate company and no, I am not sponsored by the
Veliko Tarnovo is more or less in the
centre of Bulgaria and it was the old capital, before Sofia became the capital.
Greece is just around the corner and there are overnight trains to Romania and to Turkey, so you can go to bed in Sofia and wake up in Bucharest or in Istanbul. In Bulgaria, the main language that
most people speak is – surprise, surprise – Bulgarian. This is a Slavic
language and there are many similarities between Bulgarian and Russian. Bulgarian
is also quite similar to Czech, Ukrainian and Serbo-Croat. The Cyrillic
alphabet is used throughout Bulgaria
and, for some people, this can be a bit strange and confusing at first.
Actually, learning Bulgarian is not quite as difficult as it looks, once you
get over the shock of learning a different alphabet…
Okay, so it is 5.30am on a Monday morning. It is time to get up. Showering, getting dressed and having breakfast are usually slow-motion action replays, only not so fast. Then, after a twenty-five minute walk along the street and through the park, I arrive at Green Oasis School, also known as GOS. It's a good school in the centre of Futian, the posh central district of Shenzhen. I am now in my fifth and final year as a Year 5 teacher. Of course I cannot speak much Mandarin and I cannot read any at all, but fortunately I have the wonderful services of my assistant or "teaching partner", Miss Yanee.
Friday, 15th of June, 2018, will be my last day in the teaching profession and then my wife and I will be returning to Bulgaria for our retirement. We will be leaving just after my 59th birthday, so I will still be a whisker away from being an OAP.
Teaching Chinese students is a delight. The nine- and ten-year-olds in my class have Mandarin as their first language and that is a b…
post about buying property in Bulgaria, Why
buy BG, seems to have collected more "hits" than any of the other pages of my
blog. In the interests of fairness, I am therefore going to write a few lines
about why you should NOT buy a property in Bulgaria. I will try to be as
objective as possible. Yes, I love my adopted land, but even a Bulgarophile like me has to admit that this country does have its downsides.
you buy a property anywhere outside the capital, Sofia, then it is not going to
appreciate in value. Silly Brits have this idea that buying a house is always a
good idea because it must go up in value and this is not true in BG. A
country house in Bulgaria is simply NOT a good investment. It will not go up in
value and, if you do try to sell it, then you probably will not be able to get
back what you paid for it. (That is, of course, assuming that you can find a
buyer at all!)
There are a lot of abandoned houses in our village of Kalotina
and the reason for this…