Continuing with extracts from TheLawyer.com’s new ‘Postcard from...’ series, this week’s blogger is Richard Clegg, head of Wolf Theiss’s Sofia office.
One of the many enjoyable aspects of living in Sofia is the entrepreneurial nature of its people. It seems that everyone has a new scheme, idea or solution to make or save money. This is shown off in a confident display of expensive cars, bold architecture and fashionable bars and nightclubs.
While Sofia and the large cities are benefiting from economic growth, elsewhere in Bulgaria there’s still a long road that needs to be travelled – and in some cases, built. Standing as testament to this are the Trakia and Hemus highways, which despite construction beginning in 1976, remain unfinished.
There is a warmth and stoicism in people when dealing with difficulties. Bulgaria receives all its gas from Russia, and gas supplies were shut off for more than a week in January. Yet there was little shouting about the problems, only help and concern, with neighbours popping in to see whether they could help.
It is this social warmth that makes living in Bulgaria most enjoyable. Clients become friends over home-cooked lunches; hand-picked flowers are regularly presented by a retired neighbour; and in my wife’s family village the preparation of local dishes begins days ahead of a visit.
I should note that, before he would agree to my marrying his daughter, my Bulgarian father-in-law presented me with a rifle and told me to shoot a firework. Luckily I hit it with the first shot. Being able to feed the family in a crisis is an important condition of Bulgarian marriage.