In recent years there has been a big push for smoking to be banned in public places. Starting off in Western Europe and being forced into place in Eastern Europe in more recent years. There is meant to ban on smoking in restaurants with severe fines for both the smokers and the owner of the restaurant who are responsible for complying with the directive. But this is Bulgaria as you will find out.
Galia has accepted the fact that smoking just doesn't happen in public places now after spending a few years in the UK with that rule firmly in place. Arriving back home to Bulgaria last year she was quite prepared to accept that condition of not smoking in public place, but wasn't too happy about it. As a guest in the UK she had no problem conforming out of respect without question, but in her homeland there was a hint of frustration being forced to refrain in certain places. In the Bulgarian ice cold weather that we get here it is an uncomfortable environment she is forced into to get her habit in.
Well, I did say this was Bulgaria and things and people are different here. We were off for a four day break at a Spa Hotel and Restaurant at the foot of the Balkan Mountains which we were looking forward to immensely. The deal was for an apartment room with a balcony with breakfast and evening meal included. We had free use of the Spa facilities on site such as a sauna, turkish steam bath and jacuzzi. Added to this was use of the fitness centre which we intended to use. This is rare for us as we usually do self catering as nothing can beat the freedom of choice of food, knowing what we are eating, no problem choosing how big or small the portions are and not least the relative cost which is a fraction of the restaurant prices. the disadvantage of all inclusive meals as we realised when we got there was that we didn't have any choice of menu for breakfast or evening meal. Also the portions were skant. Also as expected we had to pay for drinks and ended up cost three to four times the amount we would have paid for self catering on drinks alone!
These facts saw us rather down on the decision as we chose this deal because of the assumption it was cheap, but the overheads and extras proved otherwise. However there was a big surprise for Galia on the first night in the restaurant.
We arrived and was seated at 18:45 and had a simple salad for starters and pork steak and chips for main course, that was it! No dessert or drink included. In between two courses Galia went outside for a cigarette, it was freezing cold, but no option apparently. The restaurant was quite empty ujp until 20:30, but then more guests arrived. After a couple of beers I noticed a guy smoking on one table, this was mentioned to Galia, we though it might be because he was police or mafia, (some say they are the same) and they would just let it go here, we ignored it. Moments later we saw another table with smoked drifting from it, surely not more mafia? Within the next hour every single table that was occupied had smokers smoking except our table. I was quite taken aback by this in view of the potential of fines for both the smokers and hotel if rumbled.
I felt quite a sense of proudness in fact that this went on, regardless of me being a non smoker in my later life. I can equate the love for smoking with food and drink and even now the urge to start up again is still there from this. If I smoked now I would embrace the freedom to smoke in the warmth of a restaurant surrounded by friends, food and fizzy drinks. As I told Galia, If knew I was to die soon I'd be smoking right now.
|Better than freezing outside for a smoke|
Galia now was feeling the odd one out being on the only table without an ashtray. So a request to the waiter get was was put in. It turned up moments later and we joined the smokers party. Every so often there was a fresh ashtray being replaced, old hands at this game here it seems. Galia and I were very happy with this act of a retro smoking permissible restaurant. I could however see no smoking foreigners from further west in Europe getting very angry with this invasion of smoke in their environment.
So, rules disregarded in this and many other public places and Bulgarians don't complain about it. It is only parties outside the Bulgarian culture or do-gooder politicians who kick up a fuss.