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Holidays in Bulgarian Guest Houses

For many the idea of staying in holiday accommodation described as a guest house rather than a hotel sends shivers down the spine. Guest houses have frequently been labelled as being cold, dank places with overzealous, nosey landladies who serve questionable food. However, if you want to experience the real Bulgaria and are confronted with the quandary of whether to stop in a hotel or a guesthouse, head straight for the cosy atmosphere of a family guest house and experience some genuine Bulgarian hospitality.

Guest houses are usually refurbished village houses and they exist all of the country even in the most distant rural areas. You are always assured of a warm welcome from friendly proprietors who will look after your individual needs and care for you with all kinds of home-baked delicacies. They'll happily guide you round the village and its surroundings, show you where and how to gather herbs or wild fruit, inform you about their traditional lifestyle as well as recanting local folklore.

An increasing number of Bulgarian and international tourists now delight in the pleasures of country life and enjoy meeting the real Bulgarian people, who have maintained their values and customs. The guest houses provide romantic impressions of a bygone era. They are situated in idyllic locations like at the bases of the mountains, or perched on the banks of crystal clear rivers, emerald dams or along the Black Sea coast. Data from the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism showed that there are 700 to 800 guest houses in Bulgaria. Some of the proprietors have received schooling funded by assorted European funds for sustainable tourism development. Such training has schooled the owners in the expectations of international tourists and global standards, which equips them with the skills to make each vacation a memorable experience. They think that success embodies entrepreneurial skills combined with dedication and a little imagination.

If you want to avoid the downside of  mass tourism and pass your time with a worthwhile activity, many guest houses arrange or hold courses in a wide variety of subjects including  Bulgarian embroidery, folk dancing,  botanic tours, butterfly viewing and many, many more. The proprietors are superb hosts who can mix and entertain a diverse cross section of the general public.  Deshka Kroteva a proprietor from Gorno Draglishte a village close to Razlog,in Southwestern Bulgaria, maintains, “We want to make our guests feel at home and get a feel of the Bulgarian traditions. That is why our family pays so much attention to the food we prepare. These are dishes our mothers and grandmothers used to make. We grow our own products and offer tourists the typical local dishes. One such dish is dried green beans with pork that has been kept in salt. We teach them some of our recipes and we cook together. Once you prepare the food with love – everyone will be pleased!”

Irrespective of where you go whether its within the Balkan range, the Rhodope Mountains or Mount Strandzha, local people will be more than happy to  show you round. Deshka’s house for instance has a little workshop where guests can learn how to process wool. “We have a genuine loom, which we call a‘razboi’. We demonstrate how to operate the distaff, how to knit using five needles, etc. We recreate wedding rituals, for example. We dress the bride they way they used to do that 100 years ago. We clothe our guests in traditional costumes and they join the party. So, it’s a great deal of dancing together, singing together, but also spindling, weaving together and having great fun," Deshka explains.
One of the chief aims is to bring the traditional way of life to the world of the tourists; they can join in local activities like picking grapes or milking the cows or joining in with local celebrations like alfresco barbecues and singing festivals. An increasing number of guest houses rent out mountain bikes and buggies and organise trips like jeep safaris and horse treks to see some astounding Bulgarian nature.