Hospitality: Cvetko style!
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Published: September 18th 2010
It was night-time in Sofia and Cvetko and I boarded a dimly lit crusty orange-coloured tram. It was full of old age pensioners sat glumly on seats staring morosely at me and my large backpack whilst Cvetko explained the low-down on Sofia (basically, don’t fuck the gypsies).
We had the apartment to ourselves as Cvetko’s parents were away on holiday so I was set up in his parents’ bedroom. Cvetko then began to make us something to eat - grilled herbed sausage with salad - delicious and downed wit copious amounts of Menta (мента) a peppermint liqueur that is mixed with Sprite and is bright green - Cvetko’s favourite.
We stayed up talking into the night about the English twats I’d met at the Spirit of Burgas - and I thought about how generous and open these strangers I’d met were and how reserved cold and excluding the English guys were. We discussed our lives and philosophized about life and our desires. Cvetko revealed that he had been quiet on the train earlier because his English was ‘fucking shit’ - but now he’d summoned the courage and we were having a laugh and his English was good enough for
Cvetko and Petar
on our way to buy some bad drugs
me. I then shaved his hair off in the bathroom and left dodgy patches.
The next night Cvetko arranged a party at his apartment. During the day we popped on over to a place called ‘Studentski grad’
- which is where students from all of the universities in Sofia have their residencies. It’s a sprawling place with dilapidated tower blocks, shopping markets, pubs, discos. We visited a friend of Cvetko’s, Petar - a fellow student artist who lived in one of the towers - the flats weren’t too bad actually until I saw the bathroom which was horribly rusted and the paint falling away. Cvetko asked if I fancied some weed for the party that evening; so I put up some money and off we went with Petar to another tower block and acquired some in pretty quick succession. Cvetko’s friend Victor, the impossibly tall and good-natured sixteen year old turned up and we tried out some of it in a hidden green spot in between the communistic building mess that made up Studentski grad
and it was not shit gear. Cvetko told me a story about visiting Petar once and was shocked to see him looking so ill and
pale so he asked him what was wrong with him. ‘Nothing’, he replied, ‘I ran out of money and haven’t been smoking’!
We returned back to the apartment and started the party nice n stoned. About eight of Cvetko’s friends came over as well as Inna, Cvetko’s gorgeous girlfriend. Cvetko had told me about her on the train, he memorably described her as having ‘legs like a stork’ - and boy did she have those. The party commenced with more Menta
and beers and a few more joints and some dancing and Bulgarian folk music on TV as well as three channels of porn - weird. The Balkan spirit Raki
was made and drunk - really not to my taste - like a sweet vodka, but mixed with water. They were all curious about who this guy was from England was and most of them spoke good English so I managed to have mangled stoner conversations along the lines of Mr T on a
"> TV commercial in Bulgaria advertising an oven. Other important issues were relations with Turkey - Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman Turks for 500 years and I wanted to know how relations were. One of the guys told me that Bulgaria
was like a ‘Turkish toilet’, which I’m still not sure, what it means. Victor then told me with a smile that he would ‘like to take every Turk and fuck him in the ass’ - and not for their pleasure either.
The next day I woke up late and was left with Lubomir and Georgi who took me out into the city. They both spoke pretty good English so we were able to talk about Bulgaria and talk the shit
. They were both nice guys and to my surprise Lubomir was a very big Manchester United fan - although their star striker from Bulgaria Dmitri Berbatov - seems to be loathed here. We all agreed that his poncey hair clip for his poncey girl hair was unforgivable. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...
with Lubomir and Georgi - we picked up a few Kamenitza beers and roamed the streets of Sofia. These guys turned out to love the character of Borat
created by British comic Sacha Baron-Cohen and for some reason they loved to act out his tomfoolery of a simpleton reporter from a backward Kazakhstan. It was hilarious to hear these fellas coming
At the cinema
ith Theodora, Cvetko, Inna, Steli and moi
out with phrases like ‘yesha-mesha’
and singing ‘Kazakhstan is the greatest country in the world’. It peaked when they were stopped by a leafleter for an orphanage and actually pretended to be from Kazakhstan. The poor bloke didn’t know what to do when Georgi told him that ‘...in my country we make the orphans work’ - and asked him to repeat things in English as he didn’t understand Bulgarian. Funny.
The streets of Sofia are unremarkable but the women were not; slender, well-endowed with lovely tanned complexions - they made a sartorial effort that whilst not exactly trend-setting was very feminine and easy on the eye for us men folk.
We later met up with Cvetko and Victor and then walked together to the Borisova Gradina Park
- which had lots of paths and random music clubs inside - popular in summer time. Lots of beers were drunk and a bit of a lads’ rampage was conducted finally ending up back at the flat and having another party - drunken debauchery. One of the chicks there was sort of set aside for me - I was described as the British sex tourist and welcomed with open arms it
seemed! Unfortunately Cvetko and his girlfriend Inna were doing a round of breaking-up and making-up and as she was a friend she was a friend of Inna’s was kept from me. Bugger.
Cvetko was an art student and also a bit of a man-about-town - a ‘wide boy’ so to speak. He didn’t like to drive in the city because ‘they are all fuckers’ in Cvetko’s words, they all drove like ‘fucking idiots’. So we took the trams and the metro to and fro, including a trip to a dodgy part of the city where a friend of his worked at a kofte
take-away joint. It wasn’t Brixton by any means - but there were plenty of tattoos and this guy’s father turned up who at 40 years of age was still a goalkeeper for the local football club - massive hands and a mullet.
Cvetko wasn’t shy in walking around with his shirt off wrapped around his neck. With his shaved head and retro aviation sunglasses meant the reaction he got from women encouraged him in fact; for me it felt like being with the Bulgarian equivalent of a “Darren” from Essex. Despite the language barrier we
got on so well; he even persisted in trying to pick up Bulgarian chicks on my behalf, talking to pretty girls on the trams and mortifying shy old me. Cvetko by this time had adopted some British slang, including calling me ‘mate’- and we were. But Cvetko lamented day: ‘Mate, I wish you understood Bulgarian, I could tell you so many things’ (and I’m sure he could too).
The next couple of days were a bit of a blur to be honest - I just sort of chilled out at the flat and went out with Cvetko as my guardian. One evening Cvetko took me around the city and showed me the Orthodox churches, national parliament, theatre and even his old school - showing me where he used to sleep in between classes. We later bumped into a bunch of Frenchie backpackers from Bordeaux who asked Cvetko if there were any night clubs they could go to. He told ‘em where to go for drinks and then for some reason we came across them again. They were very nice bunch of friends who were backpacking through the Balkans together. We ordered some shots of Raki and made some toasts
and then Cvetko invited them back to ‘our’ place which they gladly did - getting the vodka from the shop to start something proper called a party.
What other stuff did I do in this the most enjoyable and randomest week of my 18 month sojourn so far? This is a family blog so I can’t really go into some episodes but let’s just say some taboos were broken, fantasies realised and things seen and done that the grandkids might hear about when I’m in my eighties. Suffice to say I had a good time and Cvetko was a generous host as well as a good fella - he even donated his brand new pumps because the thought that they would suit me!
We ended up forming a sort of crew along with some of the Bulgarian chicks and went to theh cinema as well as to the swimming pool - where it was like a party with tonnes of young locals just sun bathing and swimming. It was a very relaxing time just to sit in the sun with friends and go for a swim with lovely Bulgarian girls to sit and talk to. The simple pleasures in
Cvetko’s parents eventually came back and I moved over to Inna’s place - Inna and Cvetko both making me a lovely schnitzel and Bulgarian feast on my last evening with them. What can I say? It’s a cliché but really it’s not the place that makes a place memorable but the people I meet. Here’s to Cvetko, his friends, real hospitality, friendship and coming back to Bulgaria for more fun.
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