Street kiosks sell envelopes (plika) and sometimes stamps (marki), although the latter are often only sold at post offices, usually open Mon–Sat 8.30am–7.30pm. The main Poshta will have a poste restante, but postal officers tend to return mail to sender if not claimed immediately.

Coin-operated public telephones (which accept 5 stotinki coins) rarely work, and it’s usually better to use one of the card phones operated by Betkom or Bulfon – Betkom are marginally more reliable. Phonecards (fonokarta) for both systems are available from post offices and some street kiosks and shops. For international calls, it’s easier to go to a post office or telephone exchange. The operator number for domestic calls is 121, for international calls 0123.

Internet cafes are beginning to appear in the cities, with Plovdiv leading the way, but access is still scanty in the smaller towns. Costs are variable but usually very reasonable.

Body language

Bulgarians shake their heads when they mean “yes” and nod when they mean “no”. Sometimes they reverse these gestures if they know they’re speaking to foreigners, thereby complicating the issue further. Emphatic use of the words da (yes) and ne (no) should be enough to avoid misunderstandings.

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