Correct Footwear For Shopping in Bulgaria

It was a swift run in the Lada down to the factory this evening to pick up Galia. This is now a daily routine and has been for the last two months.

Quite often I have to hang around and wait well beyond the five o’clock finish time. There is no rush ever to clock out dead on time. Many of the workers there just hang around chatting for another thirty minutes before most of them travelling home on rattling bicycles of all shapes and sizes.

Today, Galia only kept me waiting for twenty minutes, this is normal beside I love walking around the factory grounds, which is basically a farm with all the animals and crops growing alongside the industrial side of things. "We are going to Katiya's house!” Galia announced. She never says please, it's not rude, just their ways. Although from my end is does feel quite aggressive no matter how many times it is explained that 'please' isn't normally added after a request for something.

The reason we were going to Katiya's house was to pick her up and go to the Gypsy camp where there was a wallpaper shop that was cheaper than the town centre prices. Katiya was redecorating one of here apartment rooms and Galia offered to take her there. It's quite often we find ourselves in the Gypsy areas as the shops there are in fact much cheaper, no tourists in this neck of the woods! In fact I quite like it there, if feels much more authentic Bulgaria and everything that goes on there is done for the local community. No Global based companies here.

Katiya’s home was arrived at and we fond here son was still asleep there so we had to wait a further ten minutes for him to be woken before setting of. We all went in the apartment together, as Katiya wanted Galia and I to be there when he woke as a surprise. Radoslav is his name. He is only six and he loves going for rides in my Lada, we do it quite often, he has a thing about driving and makes engine noises most of the time he is with us.

We all stood by his bed as Galia woke him up by speaking gently into his ear telling him he was going for a ride in the Lada with Martin. After his eyes got used to the light, he was now on his imaginary car steering himself up and down with the familiar raspberry sounds. He was very excited, which is more than can be said for me, I hate shopping and shopping for wallpaper with two women isn't on my top ten party games, What's more, these are Bulgarian women on a crusade for a bargain, which makes it even worse.

I asked Galia whether Katiya knew which wallpaper she wanted. Galia confirmed that she knew exactly what she wanted and we knew I had to get back soon as I had work commitments. But somehow I knew this wouldn't make any difference to the time spent in the shop surveying wallpaper, these are after all Bulgarian women in their element and I knew exactly what to expect.

We got to the shop with both women insisting I could park the Lada on a busy dual carriageway, I knew it was illegal but what the hell, it was less distance to walk being right outside the shop and we were in Gypsy territory and I have a Lada. This is a no go area for the police so no worries, they’d think it was a Gypsy Lada!

Fifty, yes fifty minutes later, Katiya bought the wallpaper that she had decided on in the first place! There was also fifty minutes of Radoslav making car engine noises around the shop. Galia was right, she knew exactly which style of wallpaper to buy, but every other one was surveyed again and Galia was asked for a second opinion on every one just to make sure!

We dropped Katiya back home and Galia told me that Katiya had spoken serious words with her. I found out that Galia had been told off for not providing me new footwear and that she should care more about her man's appearance! The whole thing started when we went into Katiya’s house and in the tradition of entering Bulgarian homes and my footwear off. She caught sight of a pair of tatty old sandals; apparently this was not the proper footwear for going shopping, even in Gypsy territory. Katiya had commented that we’re Bulgarian not Gypsy and why hadn't she bought some decent shoes for me to go out in. To be quite honest, I have know for ages that if I we were going to visit a friend's home or go shopping, I would have normally worn the appropriate footwear, but I didn't know we were going until I had picked up Galia from work!

At the end of the day it was just not knowing what was going to happen after work, Perhaps I should now always keep a pair of shopping shoes in the car, just in case - Galia agreed!