“Travels to a Different Time” : 31July1973: Slanchev Byrag and Sofia, Bulgaria: Naked Long Hair in Bulgarian Bathhouse: Woken up by Bean Shaved Bulgarian Drill Sargant: Is Greasy Goulash in My Future?  : My Brilliant Career as a Black Marketeer

Time to split from the pathetic Black Sea back to Sofia so up at 6 a.m. and started with a lift from a Bulgarian guy in a blue car who also picked up two girl hitchhikers. He dropped us off at Tarnovo and bought us a pastry. I let the girls go ahead so it would be easier for 2 as opposed to three to get a lift. Got picked up by a father and son and they were going all the way to Sofia. Again such generous people buying me lunch on the way and refusing payment for it. Upon arrival they gave me direction to the youth hostel filled with good communist youth. A Zealie girl overheard me asking about shower facilities of which there were none. You must be joking. Not even a bloody cold shower. Are we to live like pigs? Zealie said you must go to a public bath house. Check in, strip down, get a towel and be the object of stares like some caveman with long hair. Being grubbed out I had no choice but it was a bit embarrassing. Perhaps being naked wasn’t such a bad idea as with this long hair and a covering I might have been easily mistaken for a girl. What a great cleanse and I felt like a human being after days without a hot shower. Returned to the youth hostel hungry and full of energy and went out to buy dinner which was bread, green pepper, cucumber and peach nectar. Told an Austrian guy about the bath house. He looked a bit shocked as I suppose I was.

1August1973: Sofia: Woken Up Militaristic Fashion! Meeting Mr. Black Market Again

The Austrian guy and I headed out to discover Sofia after being woken at 8 a.m. up by a shaven bean head military character barking commands like we were at Marine training camp at Parris Island in North Carolina really pissing off all of us. Apparently while youth hostels are cheap they kick you out at some point so they can clean and only let you re-enter in the late afternoon. Remind me not to stay in this type of place again if possible.  I am not in the military. I am surprised they don’t have us doing calisthenics to military music while saluting their president. Sofia is a tremendous city to walk in although a bit crumbly. Again, hundreds of people staring at us some with their mouths open. The girls like to giggle at us. Should I marry a buxom Bulgarian maiden and take her home as my wife? After walking around like maniacs I ran into the greasy money changer guy again and sold him two pairs of old jeans. I could have made a bigger profit but carrying them around any longer was not worth the effort. So who has become a black marketeer? The Austrian guy and I had a late lunch of chicken and a beer for under $2. Hungry again by 8 so had some salami and bread Russian sprats, apple juice and a green pepper. Joked around with my roommates and off to bed early. Heading to Dubrovnik in Yugoslavia for sun and surf and probably greasy goulash.

The author dreams of non-greasy goulash

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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