Monday, February 16, 2009

The day Ellis found an English newpaper

I am not so sure Bulgarians read.

In my wanderings up and down the cobblestone streets of Sofia, I have found countless pharmacies, hair salons and banks. There are sport lottery shops and flower shops, but unbelievably no book stores.

Yes, Bulgarians read. There are many news stands and free papers are given out to the commuters at tram stops. But do they read books?

In three weeks I have seen a total of one book store, in the center of the city not far from the tourist stops and government offices. In that shop I bought an English-Bulgarian phrase book, but to find it among the cyrillic titles, I needed the saleswoman's help.

Last night, I went over to the news stand near the supermarket in the shopping mall. Very visible on the racks were the latest issues of National Geographic and Playboy - in their Bulgarian editions. But there was nothing in any other foreign language.

Wait, half hidden behind a Bulgarian version of Vogue, there it was. A napkin-thin copy of the International Herald Tribune, weekend edition.

I forked over my 5 levas and headed home a happy man. After unpacking my groceries, it took me a grand total of 5 minutes to skim through the headlines, the comic strips and the People column. But at least, I had found an English language newspaper in the Bulgarian capital!

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