On a hot October Saturday, as a scrum of players lunged for the ball bouncing head-high in the midfield, a match in Bulgaria’s Third League – a 71-team competition divided into four regional groups – played out in the universal rhythm of amateur football: frenetic and slow at the same time.
On some rusty blue benches between the changing rooms and the stadium’s running track, 40 spectators chatted and nibbled pumpkin seeds, half-watching their friends and relatives exhausting themselves on the pitch.
In an early-evening, early-autumn kick-off at Nikolai Laskov Stadium in the town of Yambol, the game between Tundzha Yambol and Chernomorets Burgas – mid-table rivals in the south-east group of the Treta Liga – ended in a 3-0 win for Chernomorets. The visitors were by far the better team, and scored through an own goal before half-time, then impressive goals by Martin Dimitrov and Milen Tanev in the second half. … More Lower-league football in Bulgaria: Tundzha Yambol vs. Chernomorets Burgas
There can’t be many places in Europe more colourful than Bulgaria’s Thracian Valley – the basin of the Black Sea in the country’s south-east, just above the borders with Turkey and Greece.
Yambol – one of the region’s main towns, with about 70,000 people – is full of colour, from its 19th century houses painted in bold reds and apricot orange, to its yellow Orthodox church, to the park in the centre of town covered by a canopy of dark green leaves. Colours mix on shop signs and graffiti, and in the brickwork of the 14th century Eski mosque – the second biggest in Bulgaria. … More Yambol, Bulgaria in photographs – part three: Colours of Thrace
The way Bulgaria feels and looks is anything but socialist. And in this changing part of southern Europe there are few places that have been renewed and invested in as much as Yambol – a small town in the Thracian Valley, an hour inland from Burgas on the Black Sea.
But still, in a few corners of Yambol survive some symbols of the Communist era – a left-behind but quite recent past. A brutalist building, just off the central Targovska street, still houses an art gallery. The square outside the gallery is only two minutes from the town’s old central post office, at one end of Rakovska street. And then there are all sorts of decades-old murals, mosaics and shop signs, which look more and more jarring with every sparkling new cafe that opens up next to them.
Communism is an aesthetic now. These days Bulgarians walk past the past without noticing… … More Yambol, Bulgaria in photographs – part two: Living in the past
In the scorching heat of summer in the Black Sea basin, the centre of Yambol – a town of 70,000 people in Bulgaria’s south-east – is a soothing blend of elegantly painted buildings, serene blue skies and pretty tree-lined avenues. From morning until night her two main streets – Rakovska is new and trendy; Targovska is old and tranquil – are full of people, young and old, basking in the shade of outdoor cafes. … More Yambol, Bulgaria in photographs – part one: Summer shade
“For most of my travels I have been under the influence of alcohol. In my defence, I had to be: by a very fortunate twist of fate, I once worked as an analyst in the wine and spirits industry.
Covering the Eurasia region I travelled to several countries to discover what – and how much – the people in this part of the world drink. I learned that a country’s choice of tipple always reveals something great about their culture. Behind the data and numbers in my reports were hundreds of stories – not to mention some delicious memories”. … More Tipsy travels: a tour of Eurasia’s favourite drinks – Bradt Guides
Spanning 800 square kilometres in the expanses of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, Rila National Park is the Balkans’ top destination for snow sports and outdoor adventures. It is also a conservation reserve for some of Europe’s rarest wildlife. Thanks to the park’s efforts to keep Rila’s spectacular nature clean and sustainable, these two worlds can exist next to each other. … More Rila National Park, Bulgaria – for Lonely Planet