Arbanassi house

Arbanassi house
picture by Marti from World of Pictures

Remember some time ago I was saying that out sons can benefit from the legacy we’ll leave behind but shouldn’t expect inheritance? All calculations for our retirement build on this assumption and our sons will have to recognise that we are doing them a great favour. When my time comes, I’ll make sure that the house has been sold, any other property has been dealt with and if there is anything left from the £2.5 million we calculated we need, I am going to use it to buy gold which I am going to keep under my bed in a shoe box.

A bit extreme, you may think. Think again! For a week now I have been trying to make arrangements for my inheritance to be sold. There are two properties in North Bulgaria – an apartment in a small town and a summer house in a village; there is some land – not enough to farm and too much to ignore. Every time I thought I am making progress there was another bureaucratic requirement thrown at me.

My parents left their affairs in a bit of a mess; there are no drawings of the properties, some of the ownership documents have been misplaced and my sister and I co-own all. This meant that I needed a notary sealed document empowering me to act on her behalf; which we had issued just to go to the North and realise that it doesn’t give me the powers it was supposed to. I needed copies of the drawings; documents from the court that the properties are not mortgaged and duplicates of the ownership documents (for the land).

To get these, I needed a document for inheritance; to get this document I needed legitimacy and to gain this I needed a passport. A Bulgarian passport!

Over a day, every time I said:

‘I want to sell this property!’

…someone replied:

‘Get yourself a Bulgarian passport!’

This is a long story on all counts but the fact is that although I still have my Bulgarian citizenship my Bulgarian passport expired about a decade ago; there has never been enough time to renew it. When I decided to do so, it turned out that I need a permanent address in Bulgaria (which is hard to get given that I live in the UK) and three people to confirm that it is me. After that it would have taken four months or so…I thought it was so not worth it! Talking Catch 22!

Now it has become worth it! Because I have buyers for the land and for the summer house and can’t do sh*t about it! My problem has morphed from

“I need to sell some property!”


“I need a Bulgarian passport!”

In brief, all property matters will have to wait till I have hacked the Bulgarian passport matter. In fact, I found a company that can get me one for $5,900. To that I still say:

‘This is so not worth it!’

This aside, John and I had good time away from Sofia (and our son claims that he is having an ace time without us). We rented a car – a Renault Megane that John said is archetypally French (all looks and no drive, but if you have any issues with that take them to John) – and drove to a little village called Arbanassi (it is three kilometres from where the apartment for sale is).

Arbanassi is well known for its architecture – it was built in the 15th century and since it was during the troubled years of the Ottoman Empire, wealthy Christians had to hide their riches; and they did hide their money behind high walls and in houses that are more like a fortress than a peaceful dwelling.

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The other thing that is memorable about Arbanassi is that over thirty years ago I worked there as a tourist guide – this was one of my summer jobs, the other being on an archaeological dig nearby. I know, John keeps reminding me that I am a spoiled elitist!

For three nights we stayed in Arbanassi in Arbanashki Han – a piece of modernised history dating back to the 16th century – and enjoyed the great food offered to us.

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This is the inside of the hotel:

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Once it was clear that no property sales will be happening any time soon, we enjoyed walking around, visiting the numerous churches, monasteries and museums and taking pictures.

The birthing room in the Kanstanzalieva house

The birthing room in the Kanstanzalieva house

Sharing with John a piece of my youth was an experience that made the trip certainly worth it.

I still want my money, though! Now, this feels so much better.

Where do you stand on the matter of inheritance?