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An Esoteric Quest in Bulgaria: At the Crossroads of the Mysteries

In Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the Oldest Living City in Europe
August 22-27, 2019

Travel Tips Bulgaria

For information about the wonders of Bulgaria, visit www.bulgariatravel.org/en.

 

Travel Agents & Online Bookings
All conference participants are responsible for arranging their own air travel. For online bookings of discounted air tickets, useful websites include www.kayak.com, www.orbitz.com, and www.cheaptickets.com.

 

Telephones and International Calling
The international country code for Bulgaria is +359. To call Bulgaria from the U.S., just follow these dialing details: First dial 011 – the U.S. exit code. Next dial 359 – the country code for Bulgaria. Then dial the area code (1 to 2 digits) followed by the phone number (6 to 7 digits). To call the U.S. from Bulgaria: Dial 00 + 1 (country code for the U.S.) + area code + phone number

 

Electricity
Bulgaria operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz, and uses two plug types: C and F. Plug type C has two round pins and plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Most plugs in Bulgaria are type F and they look like this:

U.S. electrical sockets and appliances run on 110-120 volts; if you want to use a 110-volt appliance in, you’ll need to buy a voltage converter (or power convertor).

However, dual voltage appliances (such as most mobile phones and laptops) are designed to run on either 120 or 220 volts, eliminating the need for a voltage converter. Dual voltage appliances that have a different plug attachment will need only a plug adaptor.

Universal plug adaptors are inexpensive and easy to carry around. It’s a good idea to buy one before you go to Bulgaria (most major airports have a store selling plug adapters).

We suggest plug adaptors that have a built-in surge protector, providing an extra layer of protection.

Certain areas in Bulgaria suffer from frequent power outages, you may want to consider bringing a portable battery pack to keep your electrical devices charged. Battery packs should not be carried in your checked luggage, but it is fine to take a maximum of two battery packs (each individually packed and no greater than 100Wh) in your carry-on bag.

 

Identification & Visas
For residents of the EU and the U.S., no visa is required for up to a 90-day stay in Bulgaria. For information about other countries, see the following site: Republic of Bulgaria Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Immunizations & Health
No vaccinations are required, though it’s worth confirming that your tetanus shot is up to date.

In some parts of Bulgaria there is a small risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease – consider bringing insect repellent.

One important note: remember to bring any necessary prescriptions or over-the-counter medications in their original containers, and in your carry-on bag!

 

Water
The tap water in Bulgaria is generally considered safe to drink, but as a precaution against stomach upsets, you may want to drink bottled mineral water, which is readily available from shops, hotels and restaurants.

To minimize the risk of gastrointestinal ailments in a new environment, it is wise to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of bottled water, to eat and drink (coffee, tea, alcohol) in moderation only, and to wash hands often with soap and water.

It also may be helpful to travel with lactobacillus acidophilus capsules, which enhance beneficial intestinal flora and can be a preventative measure against digestive upsets.

 

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is strongly recommended. A comprehensive policy (covering personal accident, accidental death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation) will protect you in the event of unexpectedly having to cancel or change your travel plans either before or during our conference, losing your luggage, if the program is affected by circumstances beyond our control, or if any medical assistance is needed.

Policies vary, depending upon the degree of coverage desired, and include options such as “Airline Ticket Protector” plans. It’s also wise to verify your chosen airlines refund policy, as they too vary, and at times offer ticket reimbursements where travel insurance may not.

 

Money
The official currency of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (sometimes abbreviated as BGN). One lev is made up of 100 stotinki (in denominations of 10, 20, and 50).

The Euro is widely accepted throughout the country and British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be easily exchanged in banks and exchange bureaus. Internationally recognized debit/credit cards, chiefly Visa and MasterCard, can be used for ATM withdrawals (available in all cities and large towns) as well as in-store payments. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations as it can sometimes be hard to get change, and smaller notes are handy for cash purchases and gratuities.

Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. At some ATMs, your personal identification number (PIN) must contain four digits.

Note: Many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones. In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.

Also, note that many credit and debit cards now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).

Please remember to advise your bank that you will be traveling, since many banks will err on the side of caution and assume your debit or credit card has been stolen, possibly suspending it temporarily.

 

Tipping
Tipping is standard practice in Bulgaria and travelers should aim to tip around 10% of the total bill in a restaurant for good service. Hotel staff are usually left around 2 lev (US $1) per night for housekeeping and the same for the porters, per bag. When it comes to taxis, it is not uncommon to round up the fare or leave some change amounting to roughly 10% of the price of the journey.

We will pass-the-hat to collect tips for our tour guides and coach drivers.

 

Language
Bulgaria’s official language is Bulgarian, which uses a Cyrillic alphabet a bit like Russian. This means that you would need to acquaint yourself with the Bulgarian alphabet to be able to read most signs.

This website offers a quick guide to the Cyrillic alphabet and a few key phrases: https://www.17-minute-world-languages.com/en/bulgarian/

You will easily find English speakers in larger cities and towns but not everywhere.

It’s always good to try and learn a few local phrases, which can be found HERE.

One note: In Bulgaria, nodding means “no” and shaking the head means “yes”, the opposite of what many of us are used to.

 

Climate
Sunny and very warm days are common in Plovdiv in August, where the average high temperature is 87°F, and low is 62°. However, rain is possible, warranting packing a waterproof jacket.

 

Time
Bulgaria is located in the Eastern European Time Zone, which is EST (Eastern Standard Time) +7 hours.

 

Packing
List Please see our suggested packing list HERE.

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