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EXPLORING THE LAND WITHOUT FAMINE: JUNE 11-18

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Last month, in Food Crisis and Opportunity,  we talked about the coming global crisis in food production.  Next month as promised, I, along with my wife Rebel, Alex Alexiev, and Joel Wade, are going lead 20 TTPers to Bulgaria to learn how to profit from the crisis.

I fell in love with Bulgaria when I was first there as the Soviet empire was collapsing in early 1990. 

There’s thousands of years of history – Bronze Age tribes, the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, medieval Christian kingdoms, hidden monasteries protecting Christianity from centuries of Moslem oppression by the Ottoman Turks, finally gaining independence in 1908 only to lose it to the Soviet Union during World War II, and now free at last.

And all through this, Bulgarians forged and kept a Christian culture and heritage.  People come from all over the world to visit the extraordinary monasteries such as Rila or Ivanovo (World Heritage Sites, we’ll visit both) the Bulgarians built to preserve their culture from Moslem imperialism.

Even more visitors – hordes in the height of the summer – come to vacation on the gorgeous beaches of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.  In the winter, skiers flock to ski resorts high in the Balkan mountains.

It’s a country of such profusion of flowers everywhere there’s an entire valley called the Valley of Roses.  You couldn’t ask for a more hospitable warm-hearted people – or ask for a better way to be shown hospitality, for Bulgarians really know how to make good wine and are more than happy to share a glass with you at every opportunity.

And speaking of opportunity… Bulgaria is so fertile it’s known as The Land Without Famine, and the agricultural opportunities are truly extraordinary.  That’s what we’ll be focusing on – while taking time for adventure, exploration and fun.  Here’s the itinerary:

Saturday, June 11:
After a Friday overnight flight from the US to Europe (the best connection is Frankfurt), arrive in Sofia, transfer to the Sofia Radisson, afternoon walk around Sofia such as to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, dinner at Radisson with discussion of trip schedule.

Sunday, June 12: 
Morning drive to Veliko Tarnovo, medieval capital of Bulgaria and utterly charming today. On the way we’ll visit Sevlievo where a number of US companies have invested, and where Bulgaria’s most famous living artist, Nikolai Panyatov, created his extraordinary Mural of Freedom.  The evening program includes the renowned "sights and sound" laser show at the medieval fortress of Tsarevetz, ancient seat of Bulgarian kings (which we’ll explore during the day).

Monday, June 13:
Drive to Svishtov on the Danube (80 km) to visit the experimental agricultural genetics station of the best-known Bulgarian seed geneticists, and discuss the prospects of grain agriculture. Side trip (4 km) to the site of "the City of Roman Legions," Novae dating from 43 A.D.

In the afternoon, drive to Rouse (100km) on the Danube River. Visit enroute the famed Rock Monastery (a World Heritage Site) at Ivanovo. Check in at Hotel Metropolitan, Rouse.

Tuesday, June 14:
Morning drive to Varna on the Black Sea. Stop to see the Thracian tomb at Sveshtari  (another World Heritage Site) near Razgrad. Continue to Targovishte for  meeting with manager/owner of large agricultural operation to discuss prospects of Bulgarian agriculture. Spend the night in Varna, meet local officials and agricultural specialists.

Wednesday, June 15: 
Visit large commercial fruit orchards and real estate opportunities near Varna. Drive to ancient museum-city of Nesebar, a World Heritage Site with monuments from four civilizations – Thracian, Ancient Greece, Roman, and Byzantine – that also has a vibrant night life in a dramatic Black Sea setting.  We spend the night in a resort on St. Vlas beach.

Thursday, June 16:
Morning drive to Plovdiv, Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, the ancient Phillippopolis.  On the way stop to see a large modern farm and a lavender oil farm.  Explore  Ancient Plovdiv with its dramatic Roman ruins. Spend the night in Plovdiv and have dinner with the mayor.

Friday, June 17:
Return to Sofia in the morning for a series of meetings with government officials such as the ministers of finance and agriculture.  An alternative to these meetings for those interested will be a visit to the world-famous Rila Monastery (2 hours) instead of gov meetings.  Farewell dinner in Sofia with a number of business leaders.

Saturday, June 18:
Departure. Early morning flights via  Frankfurt, Munich, or Paris arrive stateside the same day. Most other European connections leave Sofia in the mid-afternoon and require spending the night in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Zurich etc.

Exploring The Land Without Famine is open only to TTPers.  The cost – all-inclusive: meals, accommodations, transport, everything in the itinerary – is $2,850.  That doesn’t include international airfares to get to Sofia, of course, and personal incidentals like laundry and booze, but just about everything else.

Alex Alexiev’s political and business connections in Bulgaria are unmatched.  Eastern Europe is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s great investment opportunities, and Bulgaria in particular with it’s tax structure one of lowest in the world (10% income tax, 10% corporate tax, full repatriation of profits, etc.).  And you’ll be traveling with your fellow TTPers!

If you can join us, please let Miko know via info@tothepointnews.com or 703-992-4529.  I hope to see you in Sofia!