Tips for Visitors
Bulgarians shake their heads from left to right to mean ‘yes’ and ‘nod’ to mean no. Well, sometimes. Locals in the cities and holiday resorts often do it our way, so unfortunately you haven’t a clue whether they mean ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These days it's generally the older generation that continues this tradition, which dates back to the time of the Ottomans.
Dislike cigarette smoke? You could find this a problem in some restaurants and bars. There's no getting away from it - Bulgarians like their ciggies. The law says that restaurants, bars and cafes must provide non -smoking areas and they do, but in practice, this often means a few tables surrounded by tables for smokers.
Good buys are linen, crafts, rose oil perfume, wine and plum brandy.
If like me, you love yogurt, Bulgaria's is said to be one of the best in the world. It has a unique taste because the bacteria used to make it, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, is only found naturally in Bulgarian air.
Talking of food, Bulgarian bakeries sell a fabulous range of pastries and breads and which cost next to nothing.
Some beaches get very busy with tourists, such as Sunny Beach, famous, or rather infamous, for drinking and partying!
When to visit? As is the case in many countries, June to September is the peak summer season in Bulgaria. This is when airfares and accommodation are most expensive.. Winter is an ideal time for budget travel and destinations are less-crowded then too. If you like skiing then it's a fabulous and much cheaper alternative to France and Switzerland's expensive ski resorts.
More on affordable, fun, friendly Bulgaria here and here too
Argyll based cruise line Argyll Cruising has launched its 2020 itinerary, which sees the family-owned company build on its current formula of offering bespoke active cruises allowing guests more time to explore the area and less time sailing between locations.
All pics courtesy of Argyll Cruising (don't they just want to make you BE there?)
The new itinerary, available to book on Argyll Cruising’s website, incorporates history, culture , wildlife and onshore activities. A highlight is the return of the Corryvreckan to the Shiants cruise. This bucket list trip combines the incredible Corryvreckan, the world’s third largest whirlpool, with the tranquillity of Iona. En route sail past Skye's majestic black Cuillin mountains before heading to the Shiant Islands, home to a quarter of a million puffins in spring and summer.
Other highlights include spring and autumn Clyde coast trips taking in some of Scotland’s best-loved holiday hotspots, including the islands of Arran and Bute and holiday destinations Millport and Tarbert. Summer mini-cruises to Mull also return which include a visit to Fingal’s Cave on Staffa.
Shore Manager Jamie Duncan is delighted with the 2020 cruise itinerary saying: “As 2020 is VisitScotland's Year of Coast and Waters, it will be a big year for Scotland’s coastal communities with more people than ever flocking to the coast. As a small cruise company we wanted to offer something different, we’ve listened to guest’s feedback and come up with a cruise calendar which we believe will be hard to beat. The theme of each cruise reflects the best time to see each area. For example, we’ve chosen our Glorious Gardens cruises in spring and autumn and our wildlife cruises take place during optimal times to see incredible species in their natural environment.”
P&O Cruises new ship Iona is already proving popular with younger guests, more than a year before she sets sail on her maiden voyage. Advance bookings for the biggest cruise ship built for the British market show that 49% of Iona’s guests who are new to P&O Cruises are under the age of 45.
The new ship is also attracting large numbers of family newcomers to P&O Cruises. One in three guests who are choosing Iona for their cruise in 2020 are doing so for a family holiday. The figures are even more pronounced in the peak summer period, which shows 52% of newcomers to P&O Cruises booking to travel on Iona in August are families.
P&O Cruises has been specifically targeting younger travellers and families in a new cinema and TV advert starring Rob Brydon. The commercial shows Rob and his ‘son’ getting to grips with a wide range of exhilarating experiences and adventures on a Norwegian Fjord cruise. Zip lines, high speed boat rides and mountain biking are new additions to the shore excursion schedule, along with land based food adventures hosted by P&O Cruises celebrity food heroes.
The strength of bookings in younger age segments is seen across the fleet, but especially on the larger ships. During the 2019 Wave sales period, 53% of all newcomers to P&O Cruises were under 55 years of age.
There has been a marked 2% rise in the number of those under 45 taking their first holiday with P&O Cruises. A third (34%) of new guest bookings during the Wave sales period are in this younger age group.
P&O Cruises visits over 200 destinations worldwide and offers itineraries generally ranging from two to 17 days as well as an annual world cruise. P&O Cruises sails to Australia & New Zealand, Baltic, the British Isles, Canada, the Spain, Portugal & the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Central America, Dubai & the Arabian Gulf, the Far East & Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, South America, the South Pacific, the United States and Western Europe.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. Website gillypickup.co.uk