From here to God knows where.

Hyperinflation. Religion and the No Egg Cafe.

The world should have one standard closing time for bars.  Too early in Ireland, Italy, Cuba and Bulgaria.  Maybe a bit too late in Prague and Berlin.  Spain perfect.

I am finding it difficult to adjust my social nights out.  4 years in Las Palmas has me a bit spoilt.  I am used to going out late.  Normally around 930pm.  The Spanish like to go out and stay out late at weekends.  In Ireland, if you were walking on the street at 6 am on Sunday morning you would more then likely be going to work.  In Spain, at 6 am you would just be leaving the nightclub.  The funny thing is you will not see many Spaniards drunk at 6 am.  Maybe they dance it off.  Normally bars close at 2 am but some close later.  I like the flexibility of that.  Here in Sofia, it seems to be 1130pm during the week and maybe a little later during the weekend.  I know there will always be clubs but most times a guy just wants one more beer if the conversion is going well.  I will need to get used to it.  I don’t like going to bed before midnight.

I am plodding my way about when I need to get anything in shops bars and restaurants.  People have told me Bulgarians can be rude.  Bulgarians have told me Bulgarians can be rude.  To be honest I have not seen this yet.  People have been polite and friendly

Maybe some people are been rude but as I don’t know the language.  Not knowing a language has its benefits.  I think I have a few occasions were I think I come across the Bulgarian head nodding.  Here it is the complete opposite.  Nodding sideways is yes and up and down means no.  I think I walked out of a few places after I thought they were refusing me a coffee.  Most days I have had a contact with a local person even if has been a brief chat having a coffee.


I have a had a few strange events in bars restaurants over my life.  I remember one such occasion back in the 1980s in London.  At the time I was working for 2 Yorkshire roofers Roy and Dave.  At lunchtime, we had a routine of going to the local working man’s cafe wherever we happened to be working.   One day we went into a Cafe run by an Italian guy.

I asked for my usual unhealthy chips and sausages.  He called back to the kitchen egg chips and sausages.  Before I could correct him he followed with NO EGG.  Over the next few weeks, we enjoyed watching the same routine.   Egg steak and chips.  NO EGG.  Chips.  Egg and chips.  NO EGG.  No matter what was ordered egg was included followed by NO EGG.  I must admit we laughed a lot.  It was the 80s.  You could do that back then.

One day he had enough.  He said he could tell Irish jokes and laugh at me also.  I apologised and said I would not laugh anymore.   The next day as I approached the counter to order I decided to play safe.  I asked for a ham and cheese sandwich.  I held my breath as he called in the order to the kitchen.  A ham sandwich.  A cheese sandwich.  In the same sandwich.  That was it.  I was on the floor laughing. That was the end of me and the NO EGG cafe.  I wonder after all these years am I still barred.

Bulgaria’s Hyperinflation rollercoaster years.

When people talk about Hyperinflation in Europe we think of pre-second world war Germany.  Most of don’t seem to remember that there has been hyperinflation in Europe a lot closer the 1930 Germany.

Bulgarian inflation hit 174% in 1996 and a high of 1077% in July 1997.  1 dollar was worth 2,200 Lev in February 1997.  Today 1 lev is worth 0.60 U.S cents.  People who worked their normal month saw their salaries worth a lot less at the end of the month than at the start of the month.  In the very harsh winter of 1997 food became scarce and long lines formed at shops.  There were shortages of basics such as petrol and bread.

1n 1995 rumours began to circulate about how poorly and somewhat shady some of the countries banks were been run.  In 1996 the first runs of some banks began as people worried about their savings.  They wanted to change their levs into harder currencies such as the dollar.   People started stocking food and shops started refusing the local currency the Lev.  By the end of the crisis, many banks including 5 state banks would see their doors closed.  In July 1997 with the approval of the I.M.F  a currency board was set up and the currency recovered.

Bulgaria. Communism and Religion. 

The Bulgarian communist party did not make it easy for Bulgarians to keep practising their religion.  In the beginning, any Orthodox priests that did not support the regime were replaced.  Later on, the church coexisted with the party.  At one stage 11 out of 15 members of the synod worked for the state security agency.  I would not be too keen on confessing my sins to those guys.

While the churches were kept open it was discouraged to go to church.  Religion was for indoors.  A local guy here in Sofia told me that Bulgarian T.V except for 1 day only showed movies from communist countries. The exception was Christmas day.  On Christmas day western movies were shown staring John Wayne and others.  Bulgarians where faced with the choice of going to church or getting to see American movies or church on Christmas day.  Jesus or the Duke.

Hurling Semi-Finals.  The fastest field sport on grass in the world.

I do plan to get out of Sofia now and again.  Weekends are probably best but this weekend I am staying around.  It is All Ireland Hurling semi-finals weekend.  My own County Cork plays Limerick on Sunday but I want to watch the other game on Saturday also.   I used to play rugby for fun when I was younger but for me, hurling is the greatest game in the world.  If I had to choose between Ireland winning either the Rugby or Soccer world cups or Cork winning their first title since 2005 then hurling wins easily.

New bar on my BEER watch project.

Gio Cafe.  Ulitsa Tsar Asen 1000 Sofia centre.

More a neighbourhood bar than a place tourists might find.  It is just a street off the main Vitosha Boulevard.   I like it as it has a nice beer garden perfect for the good weather.  I pop down for a beer or a coffee at times I just want some me only time.  A Stella Artois draft beer comes to 3.90 leva or about 2 euro.

During the week I did a video for my Sofia or Bust youtube channel.  I am going to do a weekly short video on places in the city I find interesting.   This week I have taken a look at the Monument to the Soviet army in Sofia.  It has become quite a controversial monument and has had an interesting history since something happened in 2012.  Click here to see the video.

If you have any questions please contact and I will be more than happy to help if I can.

Join me on my journey. 

Sign up for email alerts and know when a new post goes live.

Comments (14):

  1. Richard O'Keeffe

    July 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Egg no egg I still laugh at that and I wasn’t even there! I hope you didn’t give away the triple Crown secret that’s a chop wood!!!!!!….as for the yes and no nods…now that’s confusing, you need to get to the bottom of that one that could get you into terrible Pat…great blog loving the facts and the craic. Looking forward to the next one!

    • PATRICK O Neill

      July 26, 2018 at 8:21 am

      He should have given me free meals as I told a lot of people. They came in droves to see it ha ha ha ha. No chop wood in Bulgarian territory.

      • Richard O'Keeffe

        July 26, 2018 at 7:04 pm

        A fish cake supper in Sofia 3 leva!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nows thats a chop wood!

  2. Miriam O'Neill

    July 26, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Well done very enjoyable, keep it up

  3. Miriam O'Neill

    July 26, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Well done Pat, keep it up.

  4. Wade Tomlinson

    July 27, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Absolutely wonderful blog. I love the topics, the eclectic nature, your honest curiosity, your wit, and your writing style. It takes me back to our chats in Las Palmas. I’m addicted to this blog!

    • PATRICK O Neill

      July 27, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Wade. That is very nice to say. Las Palma will always have a special place in my heart. I am sure we will have another coffee some time again.

  5. Damien

    July 28, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Enjoying these. I’ll be following your blog.

  6. Ernie Mooney

    July 31, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Pat. This is magic stuff.. !! Reminds me of nights spent in the Sextant swapping yarns. Best wishes for the new life in Sofia… Cheers.. Ernie

    • PATRICK O Neill

      July 31, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks, Ernie. You nearly out of the summer hump now. Best of luck.

  7. Jure

    August 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Jesus or the Duke! :)))
    Well done, enjoying your blog, nice to see you discovering and enjoying Sofia.
    Big hello from Las Palmas. We still close at 3am 😉

    • PATRICK O Neill

      August 1, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks. 3 am should be the earliest anywhere should close. At least your Guinness is better than here if I have the right man. 35c here today. Am missing my daily swim in Las Canteras.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *