If you have been to Bulgaria, you have probably noticed that most of the time, especially during winter, it seems to be very foggy. It doesn’t matter if you are indoors or outdoors. You can’t see much!

Bulgarians seem to love their smoke (Cigarettes, cigars, pipes etc…). Don’t get me wrong. I was a smoker and I used too love to smoke but since I’ve been in Bulgaria I tried to cut it down and now I even try to quit. I couldn’t help but notice that if you are a non-smoker you are the minority. Here, everybody smokes. When I arrived in Bulgaria couple of months ago a 6-7 years old girl asked me for cigarettes in front of a night club at 4 AM.

It seems to me that over 90 per cent of the population is smoking, and when you go out for dinner you will have a hard time finding a place where smoking is not permitted. Now, that winter is arriving the smoking moves from the terraces to the inside and it is disgusting when you smell like you’ve visited a nightclub after lunch or dinner.

Compared to other European countries, Bulgaria doesn’t seem to care a lot about banning smoking from gastronomic facilities or owners don’t care about the regulations. I’m not sure about that and I could imagine the second being true!

Every morning when I walk into town I see the smoke hanging over the city. At the beginning I thought it would be foggy but it’s not! It is gone in the afternoon but back the next morning. Locals burn their wood, coal and everything else they can find. In the Zoo I found burned bones of cadavers in a corner.

This explains the high air pollution in this country. Bulgaria’s air is the most polluted in the whole European Union with dust levels around 55 microgram’s per cubic meter on average. In the rest of Europe an average of 30 microgram’s is normal.

Have you experienced anything like this somewhere else? Or have you noticed the same in Bulgaria? Leave your comment!

 
Sebastian Canaves

Sebastian Canaves

Publisher & Marketing Consultant at Transit Media
Sebastian is the main contributor of Off The Path. He has been writing here for more than three years. Until today he has traveled to more than 60 countries and lived in more than 7 countries around the world including Australia, The Netherlands and Thailand.
Sebastian Canaves

@offthepathcom

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Sebastian Canaves

19 Responses

  1. Sherry

    Smoking is actually one of the things I hate about traveling. I have not been to Bulgaria, but I know that in Europe, its seems to be more “tolerated” than in the US. I come from a place and a household who hates smoking and so even a little of it bothers me a lot. I always say that I understand old people who smoke; they didn’t know at the time they go addicted that its bad for you. But young people smoking is just plain not smart, at least that’s what I think. So sorry you have to inhale that.

    Reply
    • seba

      It definitely is more tolerated than in the US but the governments are making it very expensive and more and more people start to quit.

      Reply
  2. dtravelsround

    I remember everyone smoking when I was there, but I don’t remember it being so smokey. Then again, I was there in the summer. The little girl asking for a cig makes me sad.

    Reply
    • seba

      It was incredibly shocking. And if I would have given her money she would have bought some cigarettes instead of food… very sad!

      Reply
  3. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    Smoking inside is a really big problem for me, and unfortunately, a lot of countries have not caught on to the smoking ban trend.

    Reply
    • seba

      Even though I tried to quit I couldn’t. But I hated that you can smoke everywhere… You smell like you visited a night club after lunch. It is so disgusting. I’m happy that now in Germany I can go out and don’t smell bad when I leave and I am happy to go outside into the cold to smoke a cigarette.

      Reply
  4. M. Bowen

    Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me–I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com

    Reply
  5. Smoker Pro

    I am so glad i will be able to smoke indoors when i go to Bulgaria skiing!!!! Of course smoking is bad as mcdonalds, car exhaust fumes etc are bad for your health.. but i hate when people whine so much about it… we have spoiled nature and ourselves with thousand more chemicals that cause disease… read your shampoo/make up label it has got lots of bad chemicals but you don’t complain about it. urghhh

    Reply
  6. Anna

    I find this article to be very subjective – describing the whole country from 1 city’s point of view. Too many people smoke in Bulgaria and the air in the capital and in the big cities is awful due to all the traffic and old cars…. but you cannot say that for the whole country – it means that you haven’t seen anything from Bulgaria or the smoke has clouded your vision :) Go to the mountain – the air and the view there is much better. Sofia is not Bulgaria… or wherever you are.

    P.S. And the little girl probably was a gipsy – there is a problem with this minority in the country but kids definitely don’t smoke and smoking is not allowed if you are under 18 (eventhough many teenagers start smoking younger). The government has been trying to impose a ban on smoking in public places but cafe owners got tricky and decided to divide the area in two, smokers and non smokers, as they were afraid that clients will stop coming. Now the government is trying to be more strict on them and there has been another ban recently but we will see how it goes. People do like smoking, yes – so it’s hard on the government to try and stop this but they definitely have an intention of making people smoke less. PLS do your research before making such big statements!

    Reply
    • seba

      благодаря for your long comment Anna. This article is not based on only 1 city… I lived most of 2011 in Bulgaria. I was living in Blagoevgrad (2 hrs south of Sofia) and been traveling extensively in Bulgaria. Of course the air was better when we peaked Musala but it’s a fact that the air pollution of Bulgaria is ridiculously high.

      Reply
      • Anna

        Yes that’s true… the air in the city is awful (especially in Sofia)… This is because people use a lot of old cars… Smoking is also annoying but the country is slowly catching up on the ban… hopefully when a strict ban is in place people will reconsider smoking> Years ago cigarettes used to be very cheap but now as everything is getting expensive people are starting to cut back. Were you a student in Blagoevgrad? It must be quite an adventure to live in Bulgaria as everything is very different there :D (but it can also be a lot of fun)

    • Hayden

      Geez take a chill pill! I thought it was a great article and face value wasn’t meant to be taken *that* seriously :)

      Sebastian – found your blog today and it’s great… love your writing style!

      Reply
  7. Dobry

    It is not objective opinion and is greatly exaggerated! Yes there is many smokers but they are max half of the active population! There is huge trend of quit smoking! I’m Bulgarian and if I need to be objective, ear is not clean but not because of cigarettes! Currently it’s forbidden to smoke in public places like restaurants.

    Reply
  8. Teresa

    It’s good to know that in advance because I’m thinking of heading that way in the next couple of months!

    Reply
  9. TheHikingHighHeel

    Two years later I also need to leave a comment on this: it’s not the smoking but the old cars. I’m a bulgarian (living in Germany for 15 years) and I hate cigarets, so I know what I’m talking about (now you’re stuck with the bulgarians :D). But it’s correct that you’re still allowed to smoke at many clubs & restaurants (it’s getting better…).
    And why is nobody wondering why a little girl is staying around a night club (=>see Anna’s comment)? Tztztz… that’s definitely not the right impression of how bulgarians rear their kids, so I cannot leave this uncommented ;).
    And if you want to experience a really bad air then try to stroll around in Hong Kong… you can’t even breathe and your sn***ot is gonna be black after that, sry for that ;). But Hong Kong is still a great place. Just like some spots in Bulgaria ;).
    What’s more interesting: kakvo ti haresva v Bulgaria ;)?

    Reply

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