Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Big Plans

This Sunday, my in-laws are throwing a big get together with my Father-in-Law’s side of the family here at our apartment.

We are expecting about 20 people total. I am pretty nervous as everyone is coming to meet me. That’s a lot of pressure!

We already got together with my Mother-in-Law’s side of the family about a month ago, so that’s good. Baby steps to meeting me new (massive) family is the way to go.

Vince and his parents have been planning the menu for weeks. He even asked me if I brought a dress with me to wear. HA! NO! My nice jeans and a black top will have to suffice.

We went out today to get all the groceries. About 6 stops and lots of money later, we came home with everything we need. We’ve got 4 kinds of cheese, 5 salami, lots of finger foods, basically half of a cow and a couple whole chickens, tons of vegetables, and enough alcohol to stock a small bar. This is going to be one rockin’ Sunday lunch. Bulgarian’s sure know how to throw a shindig!

On Monday (hopefully not any worse for wear from Sunday’s events), we are going to be packing and preparing for our cross-country (ish) road trip.

We are leaving Smolyan on Tuesday and will end up in Burgas sometime over the weekend, where we’ll spend a few days exploring the Black Sea coast. I am trying to ignore the control-freak trip planner inside of me as Vince wants the trip to be more spontaneous. It does have its advantages, as we can spend as much time or as little time in each place, depending on how much we like it.

In between, we will be staying the night  in  Hisarya (where I will be meeting up with a great friend, J., from Utah who is in BG on The World Race), visiting Koprivshtitsa, Sopot, Karlovo, Kalofer, Shipka, Gabrovo/Etara, Veliko Tarnonvo (over night), and Kazanlak.

Once we get to Burgas, we are hoping to have enough time to branch out and explore Nessebar and Sozopol as well. March probably isn’t the best time to go to enjoy the sea, but it means less crowds, which is always nice.

On the way home, we hope to stop and spend the night in Plovdiv. We have some friends who want to meet up before I leave at the end of the month. Weirdly enough, both of them will be in Alaska this summer, so I will get to see them in a few months anyway!

I have been looking forward to traveling since I got here in December. Originally, we had hoped to visit Greece or Turkey, but the massive amounts of snow we got this winter prevented venturing very far from home. Now that it has warmed up, we decided to just see more of Bulgaria, which is fine by me!

My time in Bulgaria is quickly coming to an end. I am happy to be meeting new family and seeing more of the country before I leave for the states. I am really torn up about having to leave Vince, but I just keep reminding myself that it will be our last time apart and I will be back in the fall.

Big plans for this month in Bulgaria! Going out with a bang!

W.


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Chestit Praznik Mili Dami! (Happy Women’s Day!)

Today is International Women’s Day, a holiday taken pretty seriously in Bulgaria.

It is quite similar to Mother’s Day in America, but it celebrates all women, not just mothers.

And lucky for me, too! Vince woke me up this morning with a pretty daisy arrangement, my in-laws gave me some cash, and we all ate a pretty little cake with our lunch.

 

Today’s a good day!

I can get behind any holiday where I get to sleep in and be woken up for flowers and cake!

The pretty flowers got me in the mood to try out some of the new finger nail polish I picked up in preparation for spring.

The glitter I already tried out a few days ago over some Essie polish I brought from home. Let me tell you, that stuff wears like a dream but is a nightmare getting off!

I already smudged the pink, so I think I’ll remove it and go for the purple. The pink isn’t the shade I thought it would be anyway.

Yep, bright nail polish and daisies–spring is knockin’ on the door!

W.

 


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Shiroka Laka’s Pesponedelnik 2012 (Kukeri Festival)

Every year, on the first Sunday in March, one of the largest Kukeri festivals in Bulgaria is held in the lovely little village of Shiroka Laka.

I already adore the village, so when I found out that they had a festival and that I would be here when it was held, I knew right away that we would be going.

And I am SO glad that we did! It was truly one of the weirdest but most amazing things I have ever seen.

Continue reading


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Coming Up Tomorrow…

Vince and I attended Shiroka Laka’s Kukeri Festival today.

It. Was. AWESOME!!!

Saw some of the weirdest and coolest things. Oh, and ate fresh donuts.

I am already looking forward to next year’s festival!

Here are a few pics to give you a taste of the post that is going up tomorrow:

Pesponedelnik in Shiroka Laka 2012 (Kukeri Festival)

 

Scary Kukeri!

 

Yes. That is a man dressed like a woman. And Yes. That is a man dressed as a priest smokin' a ciggie!

 

Come back tomorrow for lots more pics and a couple of videos too!

W.


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Bulgarian Liberation Day

On March 1st when I posted about Baba Marta, I forgot to mention an even more important Bulgarian holiday: Bulgarian Liberation Day.

Liberty Monument at Shipka

Today marks Bulgaria’s liberation from the Ottomans, who ruled the country for nearly 500 years. Liberation came on March 3rd, 1878, when the Treaty of San Stefano was signed by the Russian and Ottoman Empires outside of Istanbul.

After the Congress of Berlin took place a few months later; Bulgaria, a country ruled by the Ottomans since the 14th century, was now an independent nation.

Vince told me that people celebrate by placing flowers and notes at the many Liberation monuments around the country. Some also bust out the fireworks like Americans do on our own Independence Day, but the majority of people (especially in those towns and villages that saw battles during the 1877-78 battle for liberation) celebrate in a more subdued and reflective way.

Google even marked the occasion today with its Google Logo featuring the Bulgarian flag and the monument in Shipka (on Google BG)

In my opinion, however, being freed from a tax-hungry and over-zealous king thousands of miles away pales in comparison to the freeing of a nation that had been occupied by another empire for almost 500 years.

Now, don’t think me unpatriotic. I am proud to be American and I know the sacrifices our country and its founders when through so that we could be the country we are today. It just boggles my mind when I think about how a country like Bulgaria was largely able to retain its own traditions and culture after having been occupied by the Turks for nearly half a millennium.

America was born after our liberation from the English, we didn’t have centuries upon centuries of history and a national identity prior to that like the Bulgarians did.

I know the two situations have little in common, It just got me thinking about my own country’s history and struggles.

Bulgaria’s Tsar Ferdinand officially declared the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire on September 22, 1908 in the old Bulgarian capital of Tarnovo. This date is celebrated annually as the nation’s Independence Day.

I am still learning about the many holidays here in BG, so if any of this info is off or I stated something incorrectly, please feel free to correct me in the comment. I know how fiercely proud Bulgarians are of their liberation and independence, so I would hate to offend anyone!

I am a huge history buff, so learning about Bulgarian history is very interesting to me.

W.