I’m Really Liking Market Day

Market day in Yablanitsa is “something to do” that is much appreciated in my little quiet corner of Bulgaria!

The project that I have been expecting since I returned in Mérida (yes, the beginning of March!) has finally dropped and work is about to get insane. So I wanted to make sure I was well stocked up on groceries and made room in my schedule this morning to go to the market to get some fresh veg.

I set off around 8:45 with the hope of being home by no later than 1:00, and, of course, much earlier if I lucked out and got a ride. It was mercifully cool at that hour and I enjoyed my walk to just past the village limits, about a kilometre.

The sheep were bleating loudly.


Notice something different with this house?


Soon after, I encountered the “goat man.”


It’s quite a sight when he takes his herd through the village! The noise from the bells is something I got used to once I understood what I was hearing!

A lovely elderly gentleman pulled over right after the goats. He asked if I was going to the market in Yablanitsa. Yep… He then said something from which I understood that he was going to Pravets, but he could let me off at the square in Yablanitsa (not a detour for him). Great! I hopped in and as we got to the town limits where one access road is closed off before the market, he did the universal hand motions for “I’m going around” and again mentioned the central square (ploshtad) to make sure I knew he wasn’t taking me for a ride. Soon as we got to a corner I recognised, I said, “tuk dobre” (here’s fine) and thanked him profusely.

I passed the infamous taxi on my way to the market and made a note of the very reasonable rates.


In order to ensure I get a modicum of exercise while living here, my rule is if I get a ride into town, I can’t take a taxi back (being picked up is okay). So the taxi would have to wait for another day.

I also completely photographed the bus schedule (here’s a bit of it):


I got my veggies, going to the vendors I know as their stuff has been top notch. I had a lot of change and small bills today, which was great because it enabled me to realise something important when someone is rattling off a price — it doesn’t matter if I don’t understand how much change (stotinki) they want if I understand how many leva. For example, my potato/courgette/hot pepper/carrot vendor said 2BGN something. I handed over 3. The tomato vendor’s number was huge, which meant it was only stotinki, so I handed over a 1BGN coin. Much easier than trying to wrangle a notebook and pen for them to write prices and it’s harder for someone to short change me (not necessarily intentionally) than if I give them a big bill.

One thing I find annoying when I go to market is that being with a backpack, my change purse and phone are not easily handy. My skirts don’t have pockets and so I tend to find myself juggling bags and personal belongings. I thought it would be nice to have a very small cross body bag into which I could stuff my change purse, phone, change, tickets, etc. when I’m using my backpack and don’t have my purse. This wasn’t quite what I wanted, but for a mere 5BGN, I was very happy to pick it up today!


It just fits my phone, but my notebook is too big for it. I could put the change purse in another zippered compartment and put the notebook in here, leaving the compartment unzipped. Again, for 5BGN, it’ll be great until I find something better. This one didn’t have a price tag and was a little different from others marked at 5BGN so it felt like another small victory to say, “Pet?” (Five) and get an answer in the affirmative.


I then went to get groceries. Like in Mazatlán, I find myself referring to things differently than do the expat locals who have been here a while. They call this the “green store.” I call it the “food store” because that’s  what the sign says (well, actually the word that starts with the X translates to English as “grocery,” but I recognised the first part of the word as being “food,” so food store stuck). This is more of a deli-type store where you have to order things at the counter.


I like this building. Imagine what a little love could do to it!


This is a pharmacy (aptekа).


This is a bookstore (knidzarnitsa — the k is not silent!).


The Yablanitsa church.


And this is what the other expats call the “red store,” and I call the supermarket, because that’s what the sign says.


I showed immense restraint in not buying this even though I got super excited at the word bacon. 😀

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Had another little linguistic victory when I got to the deli counter to buy butter and they now had two sizes… and I knew how to say big! I didn’t know where the adjective goes in the phrase so I stuck it before butter as I would in English or French (so “I would like one big butter, please.”) and the smile the attendant gave me made up for so much of the rudeness I got when I was in Sofia! “Little” is easy to remember because it’s in the name of the town where I live, malak/maluk!

I was famished by the time I got my shopping done and decided to try some Bulgarian street food at a little stand in the market that smelled like heaven (which I apparently imagine smells like cooking meat and spices…). I wasn’t too sure how to order and so watched a few people until I felt confident enough to get in line. Well, I didn’t have to do that because the cook motioned for a guy to wait while she served me! What a lovely lady. 🙂 I ordered the first thing on the menu, which I thought would be something along the lines of “kebab” since it was kebapche (кебапче). She asked me for 1BGN and then cut a huge piece off a baguette, cut a slit into the piece, smeared it with Bulgarian ketchup (similar to Mexican ketchup — very thin), and then held up what looked like a meat patty and said, “Okay?” I said yes. My snack was mostly bread (which is soooo much better in Europe) with the incredibly savoury and delicious meat thing the middle:

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I approve of kebapche. 🙂 Next week, I will try it with ljutenica, a spicy Bulgarian relish. I saw it at the stand, but didn’t investigate since I had the ketchup already.

It was then time to make tracks. I walked about 2KM when people who recognised me as staying at Max’s picked me up. They dropped me off at the guesthouse since the road up was blocked by a giant cement mixer!

I got in at 11:00, not even remotely exhausted, and happy with my morning. Now, work!

6 thoughts on “I’m Really Liking Market Day

  1. I am really impressed with your linguistic acumen. And even more so when the letters don’t look like English ones. Also, I love hearing about people offering rides, and you feeling safe to accept them.

    • Believe me, I would be floundering with a language like Hungarian that has no relation to languages I know! As for the alphabet, I did write a post about that. It was ridiculously easy to learn and has made the single biggest difference to my being able to manage here. As for the rides, it violates every one of my natural instincts to take rides from strangers, but it’s part of the culture here!

  2. It amazes me how much you having learned to read Cyrillic has helped you navigate so many things. That was, once again, an excellent plan!

    As to the rides, they would make me nervous, too, but I would take them as well. Assuming, of course, all this happened back when I was healthy and could walk long distances if no ride came along.

    • I’m convinced I would have had to take a very expensive taxi home on Monday if I wasn’t comfortable reading the Bulgarian language! It’s still super slow, but to be able to say what I want based on a label instead of just pointing feels huge. I also find that I remember words more when I see them, because I’m a visual learner.

      What worries me most about the rides is how fast everyone drives without seatbelts!

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