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Addresses -- Note that streets in Bulgaria are called ulitsa; squares are ploshtad; and a boulevard is bulevard. Sveta, usually prefacing a church, means Saint, and some places have no address at all.

Area Code -- The area code is 359.

Banks -- You'll find banks and ATMs almost everywhere in the city centers and on the main roads running through most towns. Cash is still the most widely used form of payment; make sure you've withdrawn from these before visiting small villages in the mountains.

Business Hours -- Shops usually open weekdays 9 or 10am to 7pm, and Saturdays 9am to 1pm. On Sundays, most shops are closed. Banks, shops, and sites in rural towns often take a midday break between 12:30 or 1pm and 2pm, and close at 5pm. Most museums are closed on Mondays.

Climate -- Summers have a mean maximum temperature of 86° to 95°F (30°-35°C), while winters range between mean maximum of 50° and 59°F (10°-15°C). Hottest months are July and August. For local weather forecast call tel. 175.

Directory Assistance -- For telephone numbers call tel. 144 or 02/987-3131; information on long-distance calls can be obtained at tel. 0123.

Drugstores -- While these are found in most towns, most are staffed by people who do not understand English. If you do not have a prescription in Bulgarian or a guide, ask your concierge or host to assist you.

Electricity -- Local current is 220 volts. Outlets take plugs with two round prongs, typical to continental Europe.

Emergencies -- Ambulance tel. 150; fire tel. 160; police tel. 166; traffic police tel. 165; roadside assistance 91 146; crime hot line tel. 02/982-2212.

Hospitals -- If you are involved in an accident in Sofia, ask to be taken to Hospital Vita (www.vita.bg), located at 9 Dragovitza St. (tel. 02/943-4398 or 02/846-5376). For nonsurgical procedures, head for IMC Medical Centre, located at 28 Gogol St., where staff is on call 24 hours (tel. 02/944-9326 or 0886 532 551; imc@gbg.bg).

Internet Access -- Bulgaria has good Internet services in major cities; outside that, cybercafes are sparse. If it's important, choose a hotel that offers Internet connection.

Newspapers & Books -- You can pick up the Sofia Echo, the weekly English-language paper, at most newspaper stands in Sofia. English books outside the capital tend to be the schlock crime genre or highbrow classics catering to the student population. When in Sofia, head for the Book Market on ploshtad Slaveikov (open daily, weather permitting) for used novels, or pop into nearby Dom na Knigata, on ul Graf Ignatieve (tel. 02/981 7898; Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 9am-6pm).

Police -- While corruption and Mafiosi-style crime makes headlines, you're unlikely to become a victim. Politsia can be contacted at tel. 166.

Post Office -- Post offices are located throughout the country, and usually are open from 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, but opening hours can be unpredictable in small towns. The main post office is in Sofia, at 6 Gen Gurko St. (tel. 02/9496442/46). There is also an Internet cafe here.

Restrooms -- Public restrooms are generally not great, and many charge a small fee for their use and for toilet paper despite the fact that they are often Turkish-style "squat pots." Better to head into the nearest restaurant.

Telephone -- Calling home from Bulgaria can be costly. Hotels often quadruple phone charges. Pay phones demand a prepaid phone card, typically sold in small kiosks by a person not likely to speak English (though some hotels stock them). Intrafonica Bulgaria offers easy-to-use GSM cellphone rentals; review the packages on the Net (www.intrafonica.com), make your choice, and fax the order form and copy of your passport. They will provide you with a local GSM cellphone number within 48 hours, then deliver the phone to your hotel on the first night of arrival. Bulgaria's code is tel. 359.

Tipping -- Leave 10% to 15% for all good restaurant and bar service.

Safety & Crime -- Bulgaria is one of Europe's safest countries, with a below-average crime rate; all you need to guard against is pickpockets and petty theft.

Time Zone -- Bulgaria is 2 hours ahead of GMT.

Water -- Bulgaria's tap water is not only potable but delicious.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.