Chris Zahariev: “Bulgaria has a future, beauty, and above all adventure”

Twenty-year-old Chris Zahariev is a popular YouTube personality from Sofia with a large following thanks to his humorous video reflections on a variety of subjects. He directed and is a central character in the web series Lost on Purpose, which premieres on March 25 on YouTube. Filmed with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, the series is about three friends who spend their last summer as teenagers discovering Bulgaria the way they have never seen it before.

Here’s what Chris told us about the project.

Who are the people behind Lost on Purpose?

They are three. Anastas Shipkov is a film and paramedicine student who does climbing and winter sports. Jasen Atanasov comes from a family of actors. When we met, he told me how much he wanted to participate in quality projects in Bulgaria. I saw that he was determined and motivated. There was nothing else for me to ask him except whether he had plans for the summer. That’s how the crew came together. Our personalities are very different, which came in handy in difficult times because there was always someone to lift the others.

Why did you make a film about Bulgarian villages?

I’m a city boy. I spent my whole life in the concrete jungles of Sofia. So, the older I got, the greater my interest in village life became. And since I am a big fan of BDZ (Bulgarian national rail service), and I often travel by train, whenever the train would pass by small village stations, my curiosity would be kindled, and I’d wonder: What kinds of people live in these villages? What are their stories? And so, one day, when I was on the road again, the idea for Lost on Purpose – for a trip to Bulgaria’s remotest corners – came to me. No plan, pure adventure!

What can a person learn by getting lost?

Living aimlessly for a month and a half teaches you, more or less, that everything in life works out in the end. Waking up every day without knowing where you will sleep next, what you will eat, or whom you will meet is difficult. But our days were filled with such amazing experiences that I came to the conclusion that real adventure lies only in the unknown.


What kinds of people did you meet during the trip?

All kinds! From teachers to fifth-generation beekeepers. We met musicians, mailmen, mayors, writers, priests, pilots. From an old woman who had never been to Sofia to a former sailor who, while journeying around the equator with his crew, handed out Bulgarian cheese to people in African ports.

Did anything surprise you during your travels?

What surprised me the most was the attitude of the people we met. People seem to think it is a myth that Bulgarians are hospitable, but until you experience Bulgarian hospitality when you are in need, you cannot really know. And we have seen it, experienced it, and proved its existence! Dozens of older Bulgarians opened their homes to us along the way. We feasted on tomatoes, cucumbers, plums, watermelons, and honey. It warmed our hearts, and I believe it changed us.

What left the greatest impression?

People’s stories and the naturally beautiful sunsets, which were different every day.
How does small-town Bulgaria differ from Sofia?

While people in Sofia and other big cities are always busy, and everyday life revolves around work, people in villages have learned to enjoy the little things, to be grateful for the little successes, which I believe leads to a happy life.



Do you see Bulgaria differently now?

It took me a long time after I got back from the trip to find out what was different. Finally, I realized that everything was exactly the same—I was the one who had changed. I have always believed that Bulgaria has a future, beauty, and above all adventure. There are many reasons to travel; there are many things to see and many people to talk to. And having so much beauty packed in such a small territory, and being able to call this place home, is a privilege that we must learn to appreciate more.

Sign Up Here

Never miss a story from ABF.

Sign Up Here

Never miss a story from ABF.