Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Balkan Travellers

Our Editorial Team:

Albena Shkodrova founded, after leaving her editorial job at the press group that published two of Bulgaria’s top travel magazines – HighFlights and Bulgaria Air’s Inflight Magazine. Over the following four months, she though she could live with doing only political journalism as head of BIRN, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, in Bulgaria. Soon enough she realised how wrong she was, and this is how the idea of came up. Writing about food and discovering unexpected cross-references between cultures is what entertains her most when she writes her stories.

Young, beautiful and precise, Ekaterina Petrova is the yin of Albena’s yang, or it just might be the other way around, but it makes no difference – we’ve got the circle closed. With her degrees from the London School of Economics and Macalester College in Minnesota, Ekaterina is the guardian angel of this website’s good English. After stints of various lengths of living in Kuwait, St. Paul, Berlin, New York and London, she is now based in Sofia. In addition to writing, editing and translating for, she documents her travels on her blog, The ground beneath my feet.

Our Writers:

A passionate photographer, Lode Desmet is a Belgian documentary film director, based in Bulgaria. His films Exodus or Vina's World, made for the Belgian and Dutch Television, Heysel 1985: Requiem for a Cup Final for the BBC, Mother’s Crossing for France 2, and Does Anyone Have a Plan?, made for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network received numerous awards, including the Fipa d'Argent in Biarritz, the UNDA trophy for Brave Journalism at the Prix Italia in Florence, the Prix Europa in Berlin, the Best Documentary Award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, and you name it. Apart from capturing some of the most remarkable images, posted on, his vigilant journalistic eye often spots some of the curiosities of the daily life in the Balkans, producing witty comments which regularly entertain our readers and annoy politicians.

Christopher Deliso is an American travel writer and journalist, and author of the new travelogue, Hidden Macedonia: The Mystic Lakes of Ohrid and Prespa (Haus Publishing, London). He also writes travel guides on the Balkans for Lonely Planet, and travel articles for Travel Intelligence and Hidden Europe Magazine, among others. He is the director of the Balkan news website Chris has an MPhil with Distinction in Byzantine Studies from Oxford University, UK.

Kapka Kassabova is a poet, novelist and travel writer. Born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, Kapka moved to New Zealand in 1992. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her latest poetry collections - Someone else’s life and Geography for the Lost, hint at her “preoccupations as a writer, traveller, and cultural mongrel,” while her new memoir Street Without a Name: childhood and other misadventures in Bulgaria, is a coming of age story at the end of Cold War, and a journey along the edges of post-Cold War Europe. More about Kapka Kassabova and her work can be found on her website.

Bruce Macphail has worked as a journalist and consultant in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. He is a frequent visitor to the Balkans where he enjoys Bulgarian wine, Shopska salads, folk dancing and the lakeland scenery of Ohrid, to name a few. For, he wrote his way along Via Egnatia, the Roman road that cut through the Balkans from Istanbul to Durrës, Albania.

Morelle Smith is a writer of fiction, poetry, travel articles, essays and a translator from French. After working in Albania for an NGO a few years ago, she returns to the Balkans as often as possible. Her book of stories, Streets of Tirana, Almost Spring was published by ORA (Tirana) in a bi-lingual, English/Albanian edition. Touching the Shell - two novellas, which take place in Albania, was published by Editions Arabesques. In addition to her stories about Albania published on and Rivertrain - her blog about writing and travelling, Morelle’s other work on the web includes an essay on the Cathars of southern France, an interview with Ismail Kadare in The Dublin Quarterly and Mirror City and a journey from Belgrade to Trieste on

Marina Karakonova makes the mouths of some 100,000 Bulgarians water on a regular basis from the pages of the national daily Dnevnik. Her food stories are amongst the funniest reads in the local press, and we believe her insightful articles about world gourmet trends have saved a number of Bulgarians from their culinary ignorance, imposed by socialism.

A zealous flamenco aficionado, Margarita Borisova writes music reviews for some of the best-quality Bulgarian media, and co-runs the most amazing music shop in Sofia: Dyukyan Meloman. Her favourite place to wander is the country-side of Andalusia, where she says her soul sings. Apart from that, she feels like a happy woman, for she is not only surrounded by people she loves, but has the chance to dance flamenco with them regularly. The most immediate victim of this passion is Margarita’s three-year old daughter, Maria.

From training journalists in Afghanistan, to advising Bulgarian women on life-style issues from the pages of the oldest national women’s magazine, Lilia Popova is equally professional in anything she takes over. Her career led her through some top Bulgarian dailies, such as 24 Chasa (24 Hours) and Sega (Now) and some international media (IWPR, London). Her current position as deputy editor-in-chief of Zhenata Dnes (The Woman Today) magazine keeps her busy, but Lilia still finds time to write fascinating texts about remote places for

Even though she was fascinated by photography since a very young age and love for the medium runs in her family, Adelina Iliev’s religious passion for taking pictures did not surface until her mid-20ies, when she emigrated to London, shortly after graduating in architecture. Her photographs became a means to record all things new and a way to aid what she calls her “distorted memory of time and facts.” Now splitting her time between design work and photography, Adelina describes herself as a travel photographer, as she is most active when she travels and (re)discovers places. Then, she attempts to capture a moment but also to find magic in the most ordinary and overlooked places. A selection of her favourite travel photographs from Bulgaria, England, Norway, Spain, Italy and the Canary Islands is published on her website,

Dimana Trankova is the editor-in-chief of the Highflights magazine, the media outlet for Bulgarian airports. Her belief that the actual movement is more important than the final destination has resulted in her heading to Silistra, in north-eastern Bulgaria (for instance), only to end up in Athens (for instance). This may make her appear a bit disoriented, but don’t be deluded: Dimana is able to give directions to a local taxi driver a mere 30 minutes after arriving to the somewhat messy megapolis of Bangkok.

A computer scientist by profession, Sorin Cristescu tries to compensate the lack of adventure in his job – though that lack is arguable - with trips to off-the-beaten-track destinations. Sorin is a firm believer that sometimes the trip itself is more important than the destination, as his regular contributions to the Romanian website show. He shares some little known spots in Romania, such as the Dobrogea Region and the Nera River Valley with the readers of Sorin’s next project is the construction of a guesthouse in the Carpathian Mountains.




Foreign Wines Outnumbered Bulgarian Ones on Vinaria 2014 Competition

11 March 2014 | National wine tastings, preceding Bulgaria’s biggest wine fair, Vinaria 2014, started today with a surprise: foreign wines exceeded in number Bulgarian ones first time in history of the competition. Full Story

Curiosity Chest

Dimitur, who visualisеd the Bulgarian expression “Pumpkin Head!”

26 February 2014 | He is 26 and he tried to enroll in the national Fine Arts academy. Academics, though, refused to recognize his talents, and this is how he searched for consolation in food carving. Full Story


Bansko Jazz Festival in Bulgaria: The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music

Although Bankso is still best known as Bulgaria’s biggest and most modern winter resort and a skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts’ favourite, the town – nestled in the Pirin Mountain, has also established a reputation among music lovers as the host town of one of the country’s biggest jazz festivals. Full Story