Okay, I have already talked about the seminar in Bansko in a couple of posts, but I don’t believe that I really had any idea about it before actually attending it.
So, let me start by saying that it wasn’t just IES-Europe that made this seminar happen. It was several different organizations.
Secondly, the seminar wasn’t just about politics and economics as I had initially thought. It was about libertarian views, political philosophy, and (yes) economics, but the economics part had more to do with how the field relates to liberty and economic freedom (if that makes any sense).
The trip to Bansko and our first day there
Now, let me start recapping my experience from the beginning. On our trip to Blagoevgrad we were travelling with a really cute Australian electrician, which made the entire really uncomfortable trip better. Unfortunately, when we reached Blagoevgrad we were supposed take the bus to Bansko from exactly the same stop where the bus would leave us. However, there was no bus stop or an actual bus station at that place and the Bulgarians didn’t speak good enough English
to help us find out where to go. The only solution left to us was to ask the Italian taxi driver to drive us to Bansko, which didn’t cost nearly as much as it would have in Greece but I would have preferred to have kept that money for myself.
Anyway, we got to the hotel a lot earlier than the rest of the group and we had enough time to rest, shower, walk to the village to get lunch, and rest some more while we were waiting for them, since they were a couple of hours late.
But they finally arrived and we had the introduction to the seminar, where the lecturers introduced themselves, before we introduced ourselves to the rest of the group.
There were people from many different countries of the world. Most of them were Bulgarians, of course, but there were also people from Romania, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, a guy from Greece, Macedonia (about which name I managed not to get in a fight for the entire week), Albania, Denmark, Italy, Egypt, France, Britain and the USA.
What the lectures were about
I’m going to take the lecturers one by one and tell you what they talked to us about instead of talking about each lecture separately.
- How the Market Works
- Social Choice and Public Choice: From Dream
- The Law and the Invisible Hand
- Sharing Economy, Dying Capitalism
- Political Philosophy and the Importance of
- Political Philosophy and the Importance of
- The Entrepreneur as Moral Hero
- Why Liberty Matters
- Why Do Libertarians Disagree
- Economics of Offshore Zones: Lessons
- Economics of Terrorism
- The Minimum Wage
- Intellectual Property: Creativity or Growth
- Economics of Happiness
- Liberty and Direct Democracy
These were the lectures we attended. In between the lectures we had some time to discuss in groups and write down questions for the lecturer to answer. After all the questions were answered, we either had a coffee break or had lunch/dinner.
On Wednesday, August 3rd we went hiking on the mountains. I have to say that Petar is a terrible liar. He had told us that the path wouldn’t be too hard to walk through. The truth was very different. In a lot of places there was no path at all; there were just jagged rocks and a huge fall that I barely escaped a couple of times. Furthermore, my shoes were constantly slipping on the rocks. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t take the road instead. At least I was wise enough not to follow the rest of the group when they decided to continue on to the lake.
So, I decided that it would be better for me to take the road down the mountain, since those of you who like to hike probably know that going down a mountain is much more difficult than going up. Me, Doug and his wife got down first and we ordered something to eat, while waiting for the rest of the group to return.
My chest is still burned from that trip, but at least the view, the discussion, and the food compensated for it.
After we got back, we had a discussion by the pool. The subject of the discussion was Changing the World for Liberty and it was given by Nigel, Daniel and Krassen but almost every lecturer gave his opinion and I too had the chance to offer my opinion as well.
Also, one night we walked to the village and had dinner at a local tavern. I finally got to eat a delicious trout, instead of all the meat we were being served all week at the hotel. We ate, we talked, we laughed, we took photos, and we generally had a great time.
Most nights were usually spent something like this. Us gathering together in bigger or smaller groups and talking, maybe drinking, etc.
And now let’s talk about the food. The food at the hotel (maybe because they cooked for 40 people) was very heavy, not delicious and it usually contained meat. Many of the dishes resembled Greek dishes, but they were all much heavier than how we cook them. The food at the tavern we went to was really good though and the food that we were served at the hotel after the rest of the group left was much much better. What I’m going to miss though is the breakfast. I really do miss having the chance to choose my breakfast from such a huge selection that someone else prepared for me.
The lecturers: They were all very approachable people. I felt free to talk to them and express my opinion but, most importantly, I felt like they actually listened to what I had to say and their feedback was based on what I said and not just about repeating their own opinions. I was able to have several very interesting discussions with them and they didn’t make us feel like there was any difference between them and us. They sat to drink with us, they ate with us, they laughed and joked and danced with us, they were silly with us.
The attendees: Okay, I’m not going to say that everyone was awesome. We were a group of 40 people, so it would be very hard to believe me if I told you that I liked each and every one of them. So yes, there were a couple of people whom I didn’t like as much as I did the others. But it was just a couple. Despite that, I didn’t have any real problem with the group. They were all very easy to talk to and all of us tended to respect other people’s opinions even if they might disagree with them.
Of course, there were some opinions that I thought were very wrong, but I could always talk to that person without shouting or fighting about it.
As a group we were very comfortable with each other. We talked, we teased, we laughed and I really think of some of them as my friends. All in all, I met some great people.
Do I recommend that you apply next year?
Definitely yes. If you come from Europe, then I don’t think there will be any problem at all. A girl from Egypt did come this year and I know for a fact that they are tying to get more people from other countries to come as well. I even heard that they are trying to reach to people in America and make it possible for them to come. So, if you are interested, then just go on and apply. You never know what might happen.
P.S. I didn’t post while I was still in Bansko, because this is the first time I have been awake for long enough to actually write a post. 😀
Now it’s your turn…
What are your thoughts about the Europe & Liberty Seminar? Do you think that it is something that you would like to attend? Have you ever been in Bulgaria? Where do you come from? Are you interested in libertarian ideas and philosophy?