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First Spain, then…


Before the flight to Spain, a few days with friends in Sofia. I used a shared travelling for this purpose. On the agreed place, at the exact time, arrived a black jeep BMW driven by the famous (not for me, though), opera tenor Momchil Karaivanov. I mention his car and occupation to emphasise how much this person “needs” to share his trip to Sofia.

All the time we enjoyed (me and the other two passengers) of a personal concert, an interesting multi-layer conversation. Amazing personality, real and down to earth person!! Thank you!

Waiting... Going to Spain, still in Sofia - waiting for my friend to pick me up
Waiting… Going to Spain, still in Sofia – waiting for my friend to pick me up

A beloved friend met me there! Although with a steady delay (with a good reason, though) manages to make me feel a highly expected and desired guest. Thanks, Milenski!!

You can also fallow the trip in Polarsteps and not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.

Sofia Airport

After the great time spent with friends, the time for the long planed flight, has come. Although a change in the plan were made (or exactly because of it!) and the return due in a month, the enthusiasm is at a good level.

There is always time to meet nice people (at Sofia airport)
There is always time to meet nice people (at Sofia airport)

Aranda de Duero

A slightly surprising beginning of the party. From the airport, where I had fun to guess the Spanish pronunciation under the masks (not particularly successful), we have been picked up with buses, as it turned out to be over 20 people for the same destination. We arrived to the ultimate spot shortly before midnight. The result of my staring “at the landscape” was the conclusion that in Spain the nights are dark! 🤔

So far so good. And surprises began. The room that I have to share with another 9 people (very few of them have Bulgarian as a mother language) is right next to the columns from which wild chalaga (Can’t explain that, need to think of it, but let’s say it’s the most unpleasant music with most unpleasant, banal and elementary lyrics.) has poured even in the middle of the night. Coooool! The beds are two-storey and only freely is on the second floor. Just saying…

Just arrived in Spain - a sleepless night in Aranda de Duero
Just arrived in Spain – a sleepless night in Aranda de Duero

I leave the luggage, trying not to wake up my sleeping neighbors, and I got to stay in the center of the chalgotecka (chalga discoteca) to wait, along with another 13 people, to be taken to the police in the nearby town for some paperwork. In the middle of the night…

Was wondering what the police working all night?! No, apparently it doesn’t work! We have been told that we will sleep right in the buses to be the first on the queue in the morning. Did I mention “Coooool!”? And with the chalga, from which the ear plugs fail to save me…

The sleepless night in Aranda de Duero, Spain
The sleepless night in Aranda de Duero, Spain

At 5:30 am I could no longer stand, I manage to fight the group’s manager and convince him that my modest person will not get lost in the dark strange alleys of the Spanish province, and catch the road.

Roa de Duero

Fresh morning with a beautiful sunrise and a cup of hot coffee. What could be a better start of the day! The backpack, the camera and the lunch are ready.

Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain
Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain

I delicately slipping out by the proposals of a company and hitting the road. Strangely we have different views with GPS on the direction I should take. As usual, my sense of orientation did not mislead me, which was confirmed by the smiling (under the mask) gentleman, from whose Spanish I only understand the name of the city – good he did include his hands in the communication! 😆

With headphones in the ears, I sing under the mask (the only benefit of it) and enjoy the landscape and the feeling of freedom. In the distance, I notice another gentleman, I smile with my eyes and congratulate (in Spanish, of course) with more confidence than I actually have, and here I have more success. It turns out to be a conversational gentleman, who stops for a brief chat. Of course he has a mask and I understand very few words, but that does not prevent the conversation.

Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain
Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain

He expressed astonishment that I was alone and concern that I have no umbrella, as it looked like raining. Questioning me from where I am, what I am doing here and so on. I respectively calmed him that my jacket is in my backpack and I am alone because I prefer it that way. And I asked him if the reflective vest he wears is mandatory (someone had mentioned it, but I was distrustful). The gentleman explained that if I walk a permanent walking is desirable to have one, but it is definitely not obligatory.

Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain
Walking towards Roa de Duero, Spain
My first real conversation in Spanish!! Pleased with myself and grinning to the ears, I continued with a dance step to Roa.

Shortly before the city a group of Bulgarians catches me. I recognize them from a distance in their way of wearing the masks – under the chin. Still I have not met a Spaniard doing it. So I congratulate in Spanish, which relieves me from the need of further conversation.

Walking tour around Roa de Duero
Walking tour around Roa de Duero

Roa is a beautiful little town with narrow streets and old houses, some of which brings me interesting associations and a sense of something familiar. It does not take a long to “get lost” in the labyrinth, making me smile and entertain at my sense of orientation, which were now screaming for mercy.

I eat my lunch in a park listening to the conversations around. I gradually start to understand more and more.

Walking tour around Roa de Duero
Walking tour around Roa de Duero

I spotted a bar, enter there and the first question I asked the bartender is – do you have Wi-Fi. I have to download a GPS map for this area so we do not argue more about the directions with it. In addition, my Spanish music has disappeared somewhere with no sign, so I wanted to restore it.

At least it would remind me that I am actually in Spain, when returning to Chalgaland

La Cueva De Roa

After four rainy days the sun has finally appear. Nothing much happened so far, just waiting for the rain to stop and to start working.

Before the sunrise in La Cueva De Roa, Spain
Before the sunrise in La Cueva De Roa, Spain

Piñel De Abajo

The rain stopped and Bai Ganyo (sarcastic saying for Bulgarian) flooded the Spanish grape fields. Two – three days, from all directions comes moaning and groaning – first of fatigue, then with fatigue garnished with muscle fever.

Ready for work! - La Cueva De Roa
Ready for work! – La Cueva De Roa

The place is beautiful. In the distance, the nearby village and the town are visible. There is also a fortress at a height that brought me back to, the recently completed, book containing Spanish galleons and pirates.

The three owners drive tractors and do not take off the masks from their faces. Adding to this, the speed of talking as well – good luck understanding them! However, do I have horns (Capricorn, remember?) or on the contrary – I will understand something, damnit!

Piñel De Abajo - on the fields
Piñel De Abajo – on the fields

And so we spoke with Eduardo – one of the bosses (I learned his name right on the third day), who proved an interesting and extremely patient interlocutor. When I explained to him that one of the reasons to be in Spain is the language, he made a real effort to help me. I chatted a little with his wife and her father as well, but he really made these days smiling for me.

Piñel De Abajo - on the fields
Piñel De Abajo – on the fields

He repeated things on the n-number of times, including his hands and legs, even removed the mask, so I could hear him more clearly. We talked about family, children, work, interests, even some politics… I even managed to explain to him what was my job back in BG (something a bit tricky to do even in English)!

Maybe someday I will meet him again, and maybe not, but: Muchas gracias, Eduardo!!


"You are not Bulgarian, are you? You are different and speak differently.
I thought you were French." 

This is how my conversation begins with the owner of the new place we are working at. I probably look like that donkey among the sheep herd – different and somehow not in place. And if I do not look like a Bulgarian, whether I can guess what their criterions for the Bulgarians are…

On the field around Roa
On the field around Roa

Three days later to the group, which changes every day, is included a new “Bulgarian“, who looks black and scary. I sigh and accepted the situation.

What is my surprise when I hear him talking to the owners in perfect Spanish! This model “Bulgarians” do not usually know a word in Spanish, although they work here for years. I congratulate him with sincere admiration! Which surprises him. 😆

At another revelation on the trailer, I slipped and go down the ladder. My back, which does already protest fiercely, is literally in delight! I got sick of the pain, but clenched my teeth and went to another vine. The man in question – Ilia, is working next to me. He is the only one who notice that my whole back is in dirt and something is not quite right.

The leader!
The leader!

When he understands what happened and sees that I barely could work, he stands right next to me and does not move until the end of the working day! He helps me with the picking and not let me lift any bucket with grape more (I could not do it anyway, but he did not know it..)! No one else does care…
The owner also shows sympathy and understanding and gives me extra half an hour break without taking it from my working hours.

On the field around Roa at lunch
On the field around Roa at lunch
Yes, Ilia is a gypsy - simple and uneducated. Ilia turned out to be more human than everyone else! Ilia saved my back from bigger problems and 3 hour wage, which I would lose!

Finally, I turned to him, squeezed his hand and thanked him with moisture in my eyes. He lifted my hand and kissed it with the words “The pleasure was all mine!

That simple gypsy I was disappointed to see in the group in the morning…

Tórtoles De Esgueva

Emilio – the person to whom we worked for 3 days. Who just the first day, with a wide smile, told me not to talk to him formally. The most pleasant 3 days spent among the vineyards. Always smiling, responsive and ready to help you and make the work easier – not an employer, but a friend!

Gathering for work in the morning
Gathering for work in the morning

Emilio made the atmosphere light and enjoyable for work! At the end of the working day I was not even tired.

And Jose – friend and Emilio’s worker. Simple, nice and cheerful person, smiling and happy with life. Happy to be among the vineyards that have been his life for more than 46 years. Jose that did not separate from me for the whole 3 days, who was the whole smile every time I asked him something or reached out to take a grape that he could not reach alone. To all the stupidity around us, we have lunged the Spanish music sounding from my pocket and smiled at the world!

Tórtoles de Esgueva - on the fields
Tórtoles de Esgueva – on the fields
I wish I have pictures of all these people to not forget them in time... Relations employer/employee does not imply such freedom.
However, the only one who sneaked between the drops was Eduardo - we haven't took a picture, but have had our Facebook pages.

La Cueva De Roa

The first stage – full of challenges, but also with many moments that are worth remembering.

La Cueva De Roa - the work is done, ready to go home
La Cueva De Roa – the work is done, ready to go home

Of course, when I am leaving, the buss company from Aranda to Madrid is in strike. Quite normal!
I take advantage of the transportation of a colleague that flies to Bulgaria the same day and reach the airport from where I can catch a metro to the hostel that is already reserved. Thank you, Issi!

La Cueva De Roa - time for rest. I should have spent more time that way ;-)
La Cueva De Roa – time for rest. I should have spent more time that way 😉

However, at the airport I am stopped and with bit of Spanish and mostly “legs and hands”, have been told that I have absolutely no right to be there. The airport is closed!!

Madrid is in lockdown again! Just perfect!! And what now?! No train, no metro, no buses – nothing! How, the hell, do you get to Madrid?!?

I can imagine how desperate and disoriented I’ve looked since, as one of the policeman finally brought me to the underground, showed me from where to get a ticket then unlocked with his own service card and warned me that I have to get out and not come back. Thank you, stranger! I doubt you know how much stress you did save me…

The metro in Madrid was sooo empty
The metro in Madrid was sooo empty

When I got out of the tube, outside was already dark. I’m getting to the hostel after a certain wandering and I’m so happy finally arrived, that the misery that welcomes me and have nothing to do with the pictures in Booking (will talk with them lately), doesn’t even bother me.

I fall asleep tired of emotion and tension despite the effort of the others. I have my earplugs! 😆


I woke up fresh and rested and hurry to get out of the hostel. I’m going to sit somewhere to drink a coffee, browse the internet and organize my day. Oh yeah, after about 2 km of wandering. Finding an working café or anything else in Madrid on Sunday morning proved to be a challenge. ☕

After all, my plan was made by someone who knows the city very well and did guide me remotely the whole day. Thank you, Steve, you made my day wonderful!!

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol - el kilometre Cero
Plaza de la Puerta del Sol – el kilometre Cero

As soon as I arrived here, I sensed the strange smell, but I attributed it to something around me for the moment. However, it went with me in the next morning – special, intrusive and strangely familiar. At one point I remembered – London! The same smell haunted me there. Gradually I got used to its presence and stopped noticing, but I knew it’s still there.

I already know what megacities smell like

El Oso y el Madroño - Plaza de la Puerta del Sol
El Oso y el Madroño – Plaza de la Puerta del Sol

A metropolis without people… Oh, there were people, of course. Almost as much, as on the main street in Plovdiv in working day. All with masks. Some with masks and helmets. Others running in the gym with masks on. Some with 2 masks on top of each other. Some with masks under the motorcycle helmet. Lovers kissing through masks. Children, almost babies, with masks. Kids who can’t see mom and dad’s face because they are hidden behind masks… 😷

Eyes. That’s all you see. And only if they are not hidden behind sunglasses. Eyes avoiding eye contact. Eyes full of fear and mistrust.

No smiles, no faces, no people. Only fear… 🙊


For the first time since I left Bulgaria, I sleep calmly and deeply!

Probably because I enjoy the hospitality of wonderful and positive people – Carlos and Leti! Though I could not see Carlos this time, his presence was quite sensible. It’s unbelievable that we’ve only met once, and I had the feeling that I return to an old friends! Thank you, guys!!! I hope to see you two together next time!

Leti drove me all the way to the airport before work. Gracias por todo, Leti!
Leti drove me all the way to the airport before work. Gracias por todo, Leti!

Some more walks around Madrid. Airport, plane and…


  1. FEARN2025
    FEARN2025 01/01/2021

    Thank you!!!

  2. Eli Bolyarska
    Eli Bolyarska 02/01/2021

    Thank you FEARN2025!
    I wish I knew what are you thanking me about, though. 😉

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