ARTICLES 
Cut-price charm adds to Bulgaria's appeal
Article by Cleo Murphy, Sunday Business Post, January 23, 2005

There are two great aspects of a holiday in Bulgaria. One is the low cost of everything.
Those who love to marvel at the value of a meal or a bottle of wine will positively glow as they tuck into the tasty local cuisine and knock back a few glasses of hearty Bulgarian red wine for half of what it would cost at home.
The other is that, while Bulgaria is a relatively new destination to the Irish market, holidaymakers from eastern Europe know it well.
Should you visit Bulgaria, you will rub shoulders and sun loungers with Czechs, Russians, Serbs, Israelis, Romanians and Macedonians who have been coming here for years. That in itself makes a change from the towel wars with our British and German neighbours in Spanish resorts.
The age-old tradition of water therapy and wellness is thriving in the hotel spas. This is a place of curative muds and thermal springs.
The ornate spa at the Victoria Palace Hotel in Sunny Beach has a Turkish-style hammam and a Cleopatra-style, milk-and-honey bathtub, as well as a range of more commonplace treatments. The cities of Burgas and Varna are the airport gateways to resorts such as Sunny Beach and Golden Sands. The five-mile strip now known as Sunny Beach was empty desert until 1958, when the communists developed the resort. Today it has over 120 hotels.
In contrast, the town of Nessebar, which lies close to Sunny Beach, is one of the oldest towns in Europe and a protected Unesco site. It dates back 4,000 years and has been a Thracian settlement, a Greek colony town, a Roman garrison and a Byzantine naval base. It's a lovely place to wander around, with cobbled streets, market stalls and excellent fish restaurants.
Bulgarians begin meals with a salad, which is taken with rakia, the national firewater and is consumed slowly. The food is heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine, so you will regularly find stuffed peppers and chicken stew on the menu. Cheeses are good and watermelons grow easily here, particularly in Dobrudzha, the fertile northern part of the country.
Bulgarian people are exceptionally friendly, and they are progressive in the provision of tourism services.
There is a readiness to converse and a natural politeness about them. The country is hoping to join the European Union in 2007, and getting to know them better is as good an excuse as any for a holiday there this summer.

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