My village of Samodiva has about 300 residents, and yet can support 3 different watering
holes. I am all for it. Just recently a new place has opened, I say new it resembles someones old shed, has seating for about 10 people, and is nowhere near anyones house.
That said, when Ilyas turned up at 5 o’clock on Tuesday and asked if I wanted to go and test out the new establishment I couldn’t resist. He tempted me with
a promotion of free salad if you were drinking rakia (mastika or grosdovo). For those that don’t know the drinking habits of Bulgarians, they would probably shock most.
Mastika (Ouzo) and Grosdovo (Brandy) are the favourite tipples, in fact unless you are in one of cities or tourist resorts you will find nothing else except
bottled beer and the two spirits.
The ‘norm’ is to order a shot of spirits (100ml – thats a quadruple in UK) along with a soft drink in a separate glass, this is usually accompanied by a side
salad, or sliced salami sausage. For those of you that shudder at the idea of ordering 100ml at a time a half measure is available, but ordering it is the equivalent of asking
for a pina colada in a working mans pub in the UK. They would think you were friendly with Elton John!
So Ilyas and I ventured down to the new pub, determined to make the most of the free salad, I should point out that normally I only drink beer, which is acceptable as I am a mlad,
next birthday (36) I will no longer be considered a mlad and may have to upgrade my tipple. The pub (kruchma) is about 500ms away from our houses and downhill all the way. The
downside of expedition had already dawned upon me, the walk home would be uphill!
Ilyas is very well known throughtout all the neighbouring villages as
an all round good egg. He has told me personnaly that his friendship with me has been questioned by some from other villages that would probably vote BNP in the UK. He informed that
he told them to ‘sod off’ and that I was a ‘dobra chervek’ (good person) high praise indeed, and Ilyas is a very good friend.
The new pub then, or someones old shed that serves beer, it normally takes a couple to get into the swing of things and there is no animosity towards drunkeness here
no matter the time of day. So we went for it. After an hour in the pub I was on my fourth beer, Ilyas was halfway through his 2nd grosdovo, we had devoured our free
salad (potatoes) as well as sampling salami and some grilled meats. The barmen seemed very pleased with out barbill, and it was only half past 6. My bulgarian improves
exponentially with the amount of beer I have consumed, or at least I believe it has, everyone else just laughs (at) with me anyway.
By half past 8 we are regurgitating conversations, and putting the world to right. We have also consumed quite an amount of alchohol, so decide it is time to venture home
before we become incapable. Ilyas has obviously seen the flaw in the plan as well, 500m up hill in the dark when sober is ok, malko peeyan it might as well be 5km.
Then the cavlary arrives, Ilyas had phoned his son to come pick us up! Hurrah! Nuhran bundles us into the car and starts back. Unfortunately the beer has taken
effect by now, normal sensible thoughts no longer apply. ‘Where do we get dropped off?’ outside our houses, no, that would be optomistic at best, lets try our local pub
and report our findings in there!
Luckily for us Hikmet our regular barman has seen sense and shut up shop for night. So although disappointed at the time, the next morning I was
seriously thankful. That though doesn’t put me off. Remembering I had a stash of good Bulgarian red wine in the house invite Ilyas in. We manage to polish off a bottle,
before the homing beacons start to flash. Needless to say that since Tuesday night I have been off the beer, in fact Wednesday morining I could have sworn someone had
beaten me over the head with a shovel the night before.
Obviously I have learnt from this experience and I will never consume alchohol again, honest.