This is a story we bring to you from a program called “Da hvanesh gorata” on the Bulgarian Nova TV station. It is about a Belgian couple Ann and Wilfred, who together with their son ended up in the Bulgarian village of Sadina near Ruse.
Before making the decision to move, the couple was both busily working in Spain. Wilfred had undergone heart surgery when he realised he needed to slow down and find a less stressful occupation.
Two days into their first trip to Bulgaria, Wilfred had already made up his mind. He wanted to make the move permanently. Ann decided to quit her job and join her partner in this adventure. They were lucky to find two houses in need of renovation, which they purchased for a really good price. Both Ann and Wilfred have an active lifestyle and they never had plans to retire with their move. Ann found the new place and new language a bit of a challenge to start with.
Initially, locals were unsure about their new Belgian neighbours, maybe there was an expectation Ann and Wilfred will leave before long. However, they both made a real effort, and two months down the road, they got a Bulgarian number plate for their car and made their first attempts at speaking the language.
In the interview, Ann shares how prices compare between Bulgaria and Belgium: “In Sadina, you can buy a house for 5,000 EUR and spend a bit more to renovate it, while back in Belgium for the same money you cannot even get a garage. Bread in Bulgaria is 50 euro cents, while in Belgium it’s 2 euros”.
As one might expect, life in a village is quite different.
There are no big shops, cinemas or gyms, things to keep yourself busy with. Instead, Ann decided to open a Belgian restaurant called “Bij de bomma”, which turned out to be a success with the other Belgian people living in the village and surrounding area. The menu features some typical Belgian dishes as well as some more traditional Bulgarian meals. On a busy day in the restaurant, you can hear people speaking different languages. Some customers enjoy the Belgian beer sourced directly from their home country whilst others simply stop by to have coffee or ice cream.
Ann and Wilfred’s relatives back in Belgium did not accept the couple’s decision to relocate very easily. Questions were asked why they want to live in a village, suggesting to them it was not something they would enjoy.
Alongside running a restaurant, they also have a country-style guest house. They renovated the house inside however they kept the traditional, rustic look on the outside. The house offers a perfect view of the surrounding hills and forest. So far, they have had guests visiting from Turkey, Netherlands, and Belgium. They offer affordable accommodation to those who are keen to experience a more peaceful rural setting away from the glitz and glamour of 5-star hotels.
Wilfred spends his time renovating other houses in the same village. Their son gets involved in helping at the restaurant, as well as helping his father with the renovations. Other Belgians followed in their steps and moved to Sadina.
Wilfred and Ann loved the place so much that they decided to get married in Sadina. The mayor of the village witnessed the couple exchanging vows. The wedding coincided with another big event, National Independence Day on the 22nd of September. The couple invited the whole village to come along and celebrate together. This was the first wedding in Sadina for a very long time and one to remember for years to come.
To book a table at Ann’s restaurant please visit her Facebook page here.