Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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*Re-post* Wordless Wednesday: Seward & Kenai Fjords 2008

** A re-post is the epitome of lazy, but since it’s still Wednesday for another hour, I figured a re-post of a past Wordless Wednesday was better than nothing! I picked this particular post – a trip to beautiful Seward and a Kenai Fjords cruise (where we saw tons of wildlife, including whales!) – because Vince and I are hoping to take a few days off this summer and head back down to this incredible part of Alaska.

SO looking forward to another summer filled with adventures!**

Seward, Alaska

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…Lately…

Hey all!

I’m alive! I survived an especially awful trip back to the U.S. in {mostly} one piece.

I hate airports and flying more and more each time I travel. The Delta terminal at JFK is as disgusting as ever. I had an overnight layover there and it was a long night, to say the least. Thankfully, I haven’t had much jet lag this time around – I always find it easier to adjust when returning to the states.

After a big to-do over my second suitcase with Polish Airlines at the airport in Sofia, I decided to leave ALL of my clothing in Bulgaria to avoid paying their ridiculous €150 fee. Luckily, I still had some clothes at my mom’s house, so I am not entirely desperate! Vince will be bringing my things over with him when he comes over next month.Happy to be home with my favorite little lady. #firstinstagram #cousins #rockingthesouvenirvenetianmask

It’s been a whirlwind of family and friend time (especially with my little lady), shopping, and sleeping since I got home on Friday morning. Yesterday I went to the Mummies of the World Exhibit in Salt Lake with my family and a friend. It was awesome! I love mummies!

Mummies rock! #mummiesexhibition #historynerd

My biggest time suck (and reason I have been neglecting this here blog) is my new iPhone 5! Yep. I finally took the plunge into the world of smartphones and joined the Apple masses. So far…I LOVE IT! I bought one for Vince as well and as much as he wouldn’t like to admit it, he’s excited as well. As you all probably know, I am a photography freak, so having a phone with a nice camera and access to apps like Instagram is awesome! Oh, and don’t even get me started on my growing obsession with the game Hay Day (shameless plug, if you play the game, add me as a friend: WhitneyPBG); who knew I would be into farming?! 😉

On that note, if you’d like to follow me on Instagram my name is whitneydimova.Out the window. #viewfromhere #Murray #almostspring

Hope you are all doing well! Talk to you soon!

W.

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Blog Post Catch-Up

With an entirely new lifestyle starting in just a few weeks (I’m going to try really hard not to harp on about it!), I have a short window in which to sit on my butt and catch-up on the blog posts gathering dust in my drafts folder.

So in the next few weeks, expect travel posts (remember that time I went on a Mediterranean cruise?), Sofia restaurant reviews, tales of my mom’s and friend’s visits, and other odds and ends.

Stay tuned! Lots to come!

W.

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Super Duper HUGE Announcement Time!

Hmm. Where do I even start?! (and NO…I am NOT pregnant!)

First off, I want to thank all of you, both regular and new readers alike, for supporting this blog endeavor of mine. Girl Meets Bulgaria has been  a way to keep family and friends updated with my life; my inspiration in down times; a place to share my adventures, dreams, and struggles; and a creative avenue where I can explore my passion for photography and writing.

When I started GMB over two years ago, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to where it is today. I have readers in over 100 countries, a growing Facebook page, and connections with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Even though the next few months hold a lot of changes for this blog, I sincerely hope you stick around with me through the journeys that lie ahead.

With that, I’d like to let everyone know that Vince and I are moving back to the the U.S.!

His immigration has been in the works for awhile now and barring any hiccups, should be finalized by the end of the month. Returning to the states was a hard decision for us to make. We’ve been together nearly 5 years now (holy cow! where does the time go?!) and throughout much of our relationship we’ve talked about settling in Bulgaria and making it our home. I knew it would be hard once we had kids to be away from my family and friends in the states, but I thought we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

After my stay here last winter and another summer in Alaska, we began to see that living in Bulgaria posed a lot of challenges to building our life together and starting meaningful careers. Sure, there are TONS of perks and advantages to living in Bulgaria (ahem, can you say TRAVEL!)  and many people are very successful here; however, it just didn’t feel as “right” for us as it once did. Vince is, of course, very sad to leave his parents and friends, but he is excited for the opportunities available to us in the U.S. and we hope to visit Bulgaria often. This country will always hold a very big part of our hearts and be a significant part of our life together.

OK. So are you ready for ANOTHER big announcement?

We’re moving to Alaska permanently! 

I was recently hired in a year round management position with Princess Cruises in Alaska and could not be more excited! Vince and I had already planned on returning to Denali this summer for what was likely to be our last time, when a full time, year round position opened up I knew I had to apply. Princess is an incredible company to work for and after 3 summer seasons, I am thrilled to be starting a career with them (looks like I’ll be using my tourism degree after all!).

Alaska has become a second home to us during our many summers spent working in Denali. Moving there permanently is a bit of a daunting prospect, but with so much to do and see, we are very excited to be making such a big change. Frigid (and dark) winters at-40 below should be interesting!

We will be living and working outside the tiny town of Trapper Creek (pop. 423) at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge (about 2 hours north of Anchorage). The lodge is very remote (i.e. completely by itself with nothing around for miles) and sits a mere 40 miles from the base of majestic Mt. McKinley. All 20,320 snow-covered feet are visible from the lodge on clear days; it’s a breathtaking sight!

I’m about to become a mountain woman, ya’ll! 😉

Things are happening very quickly and I will be leaving Bulgaria next week with Vince to follow early next month. My first stop is Utah for a visit with family and friends as well as life maintenance things (moving to another state requires some logistical shuffling) and major shopping trips–no more company-provided uniforms for me! I have to buy a completely new professional wardrobe. After that I am Alaska bound!

I don’t know exactly where I am going to take this blog. I am thinking a new name is inevitable–I figure it’s about time for some major changes anyway. I do know that I will keep it up and post as often as I can! Going from unemployed with endless amounts of free time to working full time will obviously affect my blogging habits, but I fully plan on blogging well into the future.

Whew! What a post, right?

Here’s to moving forward and new adventures!

W.

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The Beauty of Bulgaria | Guest Post by Ellis Shuman

My wife and I love to travel. You could say that we’ve been traveling on a life-long journey, as we were both born in the United States and have been living in Israel since we were teenagers. Europe is so close, but getting there, even from Israel, has been expensive. Like most people, we simply couldn’t afford to make all of our travel dreams come true. And then we were offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and work in Bulgaria for two years.

As Israeli ex-pats we were set up in a comfortable apartment in Sofia and immediately began our daily routine of working in the local support center of an Israeli Internet marketing company. We shopped in a nearby Piccadilly supermarket; bought flowers from a friendly lady on our cobblestone street; and smiled at our elderly doorman, even though we never fully understood what he was saying. We hired a tutor to teach us conversational Bulgarian, but because we worked with English-speaking colleagues, we failed to learn more than a few basic phrases.

And we traveled. Using Sofia as our base, we traveled at every opportunity we could. We took a train north to Vratsa; we went by bus east to Koprivshtitsa; we flew to Varna and later to Burgas on the Black Sea coast; and on many weekends we rented a car, enabling ourselves to get out into the countryside completely on our own.

We fell in love with the beautiful scenery we saw around us. The sculpted rock formations of Belogradchik; the traditional Bulgarian Revival houses of Plovdiv’s Old Town; the striking Rila Monastery; the ancient churches of Nessebar. We quickly came to appreciate Bulgarian history. We visited Shipka Pass, where Russian and Bulgarian troops were able to fight off the might of the Ottoman Empire and liberate the country in 1877-8.

Belogradchik Rocks

Belogradchik Rocks

Traditional Bulgarian architecture in Plovdiv

Traditional Bulgarian architecture in Plovdiv

Church ruins in Nessebar

Church ruins in Nessebar

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery

We were captivated by Bulgarian culture. We ate in traditional Bulgarian mehanes, enjoyed Shopka Salat; drank rakia with our meals; exchanged martenitsa on March 1st; and watched the spectacular parade during the Festival of Roses in Kazanlak. It was an amazing time, full of adventures and new experiences. We made many friends in Bulgaria, and have many good memories of our time there.

Although we are now back at our permanent home in Israel, close to our family and two young granddaughters, we often think back fondly to our Bulgarian adventures. We experienced a wonderful, beautiful country, and we will always love the beauty of Bulgaria.

Ellis Shuman and his wife, Jodie, lived in Sofia for two years 2009-2010. During that time they maintained a very active blog, Ellis and Jodie’s Bulgarian Adventures, detailing their travels. Ellis is the author of Valley of Thracians, a suspense novel set in Bulgaria.

(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Shuman).


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13 for 2013

2013_resolution_gmb

Well, folks, it’s officially February! The first month of 2013 has already come and gone.

Craziness.

I’ve had the beginnings of this post in my drafts since early January but never managed to finish it up…until now.

I am a firm believer that it is never too late to set goals and go about tackling them. That being said, I have never been one to set New Years Resolutions. OK…OK… That’s not entirely true. Let’s just say that I’ve never been one to actually accomplish any News Years Resolutions. Like most people, I start out energized and motivated, but just a few weeks later I’ve pretty much forgotten that I even set resolutions. So instead of “New Years” resolutions, I am just setting 13 regular old resolutions to achieve at some point in 2013.

Pretty vague. I know.

But that’s how this girl rolls.

I know I keep alluding to big changes ahead for Mr. Hubs and I, but it’s still just a little too early in the game yet to spill all the beans. I am bursting to tell you all what we have in store for us this year. SOON! Suffice it to say that 2013 is going to be our most life-changing year yet. We’re talkin’ fireworks exploding, Hallelujah music here folks!

(well…maybe not quite that much, but awesome, nonetheless!)

And no. I am NOT pregnant!

13 Resolutions for 2013:

(in no particular order)

  1. Read everything I currently have downloaded on my Kindle. No more downloads until I start reading what I have!
  2. Save more and spend less. This is a BIGGIE! Getting in control of our finances and planning for the future is extremely important to us this year.
  3. Make a bigger effort to keep in touch with family and friends, especially when I am out of the state (Utah) or country. I stay regularly connected with my mom and a few friends, but I can always find more time to send a nice note or email to those I haven’t heard from in awhile.
  4. Take more control of my blog and learn some basic coding and design. Because of the changes ahead for Vince and I this year, I am seriously thinking about making some major blog changes. I’ll let you know if/when that happens!
  5. Clean up my diet. I have been eating really well since getting to Bulgaria but there is always room for improvement. I would still like to try out a vegetarian diet for a month to see how I feel.
  6. Actually try to learn some Bulgarian (beyond the basics) and use it! I’ve been in BG for 3 months now and my Bulgarian has not improved much. I do find myself understanding snippets of conversations here and there, but that’s about it!
  7. Continue to work on my photography skills and tackle a few new techniques. My photography has come a long way since getting my Nikon DSLR (aka, my baby) for Christmas in 2010. I still have TONS to learn, however!
  8. De-clutter and focus on being more organized. AKA stop being such a slob!
  9. Speak (& think) kinder. Sometimes I have a bit of a potty mouth and also say things I shouldn’t. I truly want to strive to have a more positive attitude, both in how I project myself to others and internally as well.
  10. Settle down (a bit) and work on finding a career that I am passionate and excited about. I will always be a vagabond at heart. I have come to realize this. However, it’s also important to me to set down some roots while Vince and I start/raise a family. Don’t get me wrong, there will be LOTS of travels throughout, but we’ll have a home base where we can return to to regroup, relax, and plan our next adventure!
  11. Prioritize time (home/work/hobbies/internet/etc.) As much as I LOVE this little bloggy of mine, I spend far too much time on the internet and computer and not enough enjoying nature, engaging in hobbies, and just being. Between blogging, surfing, social networking, uploading and editing photos, and working, a huge chunk of my time is spent staring at a computer screen. I want to get out more and spend more time with Vince and friends. I know the web will always be a big part of my life but prioritizing how I spend my time online is crucial to keeping my brain from turning into complete mush.
  12. Write! I sat down a few days ago to write out a blog post on paper (thought this might make it easier to organize my thoughts) and I seriously had forgotten how to form letters. Alright, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the pen definitely felt foreign in my hand. I used to journal and take notes a lot and I would like to get back into that routine.
  13. Cross at least 5 items off my “30 Before 30” list. The big 3-0 is quickly approaching and I have not made much progress on my goal list.

Yeah. That last one is a goal to meet some goals. It’s like Goal Inception! 🙂

What are you resolving to tackle this year? Please Share! I love hearing what other people find important in their lives.

W.

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Fun Times Ahead

Whew! It feels like my mom just left and we already have another guest arriving from the states!

K, my friend/boss (and fellow Utah girl) flies into Sofia tomorrow afternoon. We’ve got some fun things planned for her 2-week visit.

On Saturday Vince, K, and myself are heading down to spend the night in Plovdiv. A group of about 20 Denali peeps are getting together for food, drinks, and good company. I am sure the horo will be danced at some point as well; most likely post-drinks! I haven’t seen everyone since leaving Alaska at the end of September, so it should be a good time.

Then Sunday Vince will head back to Sofia while K. and I catch a night bus (slightly scary prospect) to Istanbul. We’re meeting another friend in the city for 4 days of adventures, including consuming a ridiculous amount of baklava and Turkish coffee! I’ve been to Istanbul before but only for a day on our first Med. cruise. It was actually one of the biggest surprises of the trip; completely different than I had envisioned. And the Grand Bazaar? I am still trying to wrap my mind around it!

I am really excited to be able to see some things I missed last time around; such as the cisterns, spice market, and maybe even a whirling dervish show!

After that it’s exploring Sofia and maybe a weekend trip to Rila or Koprivshtitsa (if we can talk Vince into being our chauffeur!).

It’ll probably be a little quiet around these parts for the next few weeks as I play hostess, but I’ll be back soon enough!

W.

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