On Sunday my daughter and I decided we needed a swim. And with most outdoor pools already closed for the season here in Sofia, we turned to the Holiday Inn.
To be sure, it’s a swanky setup. There’s a jacuzzi and miles of picture windows and a sauna hot enough to poach an egg. But first we had to sign a pile of documents. Did we examine all the rules? Check. Agree to supervise our children? Of course. Sign away all legal rights forever in the unlikely event that something unfortunate occurs in said pool? Naturally.
We had a very nice swim. But for the two of us it cost $24 US for a single visit, plus $4 more for an exquisite bottle of Italian water, thank you very much.
On Monday we went to Kokolandia, a ropes course at the southern end of the magnificent Boris’s Garden, Sofia’s forested city park. For $2.75 US and not a single signature, my daughter hitched into a harness and climbed happily up into the trees. She clambered over obstacles, grunted past obstructions, pleaded once or twice for divine intervention, and flew down a zipwire. “I can’t believe I did it!” she said afterwards.
Is it safe? Yes, I believe it is. The equipment is in decent shape and the instructors carefully teach kids about the golden rule: never unclip both of your safety lines at the same time when you’re going round an obstacle. They watch beginners most carefully, and then trust – yes, trust – that kids and their parents will keep following that rule and stay safe.
Of course, Kokolandia would give any self-respecting corporate attorney heart palpitations. If Americans got hold of the place, it would be shut down at once.
The American Bar Association has said Bulgaria is making steady progress in bringing its legal profession up to Western standards. I’m sure that’s good news. But if there’s a little delay in passing out all those waivers in Eastern Europe — and declaring open season on the personal injury lawsuits that have America tied up in knots — there will be no complaints from me.