I visited Bulgaria last year. I flew to Sofia then took a slow train for several hours to Popovo. From there I took a taxi to a small village called Voditsa where I stayed for a week in a typical country cottage, complete with a lovely old petschka, which was lit ALL the time.
The whole experience was fantastic. All of the people we met were very friendly and the countryside around Voditsa really interesting. There were shepherds with flocks on the low lying hills, lots of woodland, lots of birdlife - from big white storks to red kites - and the wild plum blossom was out when we there - end of April - so yes, we had a great time.
Yes, Bulgaria is a poor country and many smaller villages are in need of revival but the spirit is strong I think even if the transition to a more democratic/progressive nation is difficult Bulgaria has a bright future. I want to go again, to the mountains!!