It's still some poverty in Bulgaria, even though the economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Some beggars complain about the situation in the country, and use inventive methods to get money from tourists.
"Bulgaria robbed and stole my identity. I need refugee status in another country".
Latest news oct 2005: The Brigitte Bardot foundation about preserving the Bears of Sofia has bought most of the animals and transfered them into a reserve. It's been a while since I haven't seen a bear in Sofia.
Some Gipsies have bigger bears than others. This one is Huuge !! The bear is standing on her feet and dancing to the music.
Actually the chain the bears have here is pretty safe. They stuck it through a ring in the nose,which must hurt alot and the bear has learned to know its limits.
Don't Worry the bear won't harm you,it's held on a chain,but it's still a sad sight....It belongs to the mountains and the wilderness not to the center of Sofia. The Gipsies make it dance while playing on "gudulka" - a traditional string instrument or accordeon like on this photo.
As in every capital , watch out for pickpockets .Mainly women ,they are so talanted ,that you won't even notice.As a general rule - do not wear anything on your back - somewhere where you don't have eyes on it , and put your money, credit cards and passport in an inner pocket of your clothing and not in your bag....That will avoid you all the headaches of stolen pass and money.
This tiny gipsy kid has been put early into work in front of Sheraton hotel. I always give them coins when I have , which makes them happy and they stop running after you.
The beggers do look miserable ,handicaped etc - in our hypocrite society , I don't know who to beleive so , they might have more money than I do and have sacrificed their dignity for the almighty king Money. Old handicaped people begging are a really sad sight tho...
Be mindful of the street beggars in downtown Sofia, especially the little gypsy kids. They will beg you for money and if that doesn't work then they may try to pick your pockets or bags if you're not paying attention.
I caught one little brat crimson fisted!! I would have threatened to tell his mommy, but unfortunately she is the one who put him up to it.
If you think you'll be able to enjoy nice walk through the streets, or sitting in the park, or even outside the cafe - you're not entirely right. There're all sorts of people that want to talk with you, share their problems ("Gladen sam"-"I'm hungry"), sell you something... Bad thing about them is that they are VERY, VERY persistant. Sometimes, beggars will simply stand by your cafe table for ages before anybody from the staff takes notice.
You can find this happening everywhere, but especially inside underground corridors, nearby the open markets, railway station, the Lion bridge, Macedonia Sq...
In the last years the number of homeless people in Sofia is increasing fast. They search the garbage for stuff that could be reused or leftover food...These people are not usually agressive they just are extremely dirty.
Watch out for homeless dogs as they could get aggressive especially by night when found in bigger numbers...
Come in all shapes and forms from the mother w/ the baby to pestering kids to disabled (some fake it, too) to old folks. While you may feel for their plight, you should know that they are organised and have turned the begging into a very financially sound business. So your pittance will most probably go into someone else's hands....