Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Putting It All Behind Us

Immigration...DONE!Vince started work today and it went much better than I expected. I thought our HR manager would have some questions about his immigrant visa or ask for something we don’t have yet (his new Social Security card, for example). As usual, I worried for nothing. He was in and out of her office and starting his first day of work for the 2013 season in just a few minutes.

Today, I was finally able to really breathe, relax, and let go of all the worries and stress that come along with the immigration process. It was exactly this time last year that I was gathering paperwork, filling out countless forms, and beginning our journey to making Vince a permanent U.S. resident.

Oh, the stress that 12 months of bureaucratic red tape and rules can cause!

In a few months time we will have to adjust his status, but other than that, we are done!

We can now focus on building our lives together in Alaska and, eventually, even starting a family.

But first things first…we have to make it through this summer in one piece!

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Welcome Home, Vince!

He's home!Today was a great day.

Today my husband, Ventsislav, entered the U.S. and became a permanent resident (Green Card holder).

Today a journey nearly 5 years in the making came to an end.

. . .

We could not be more thrilled to be starting the next phase of our life together.

After spending a few days in Utah with my family, Vince will be joining me here in our new home in Alaska.

Today… I am one happy lady!

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Saying Goodbye & Moving On

goodbyeBG(did I just call myself a cow with that photo? Meh. It’s a cute cow. I’ll take it!)

Thanks to the magic of post scheduling, as you read this I am on a plane bound for America. My first stop before touching down on U.S. soil–at the ever-lovely and non bird-infested (*note the sarcasm) JFK–is Warsaw, Poland. Oh how I wish I had a loooong layover there so I could go out and explore!

While leaving Bulgaria is hard and a big part of me regrets making the decision, I know that there are so many more adventures ahead for Vince and I. Alaska is amazing and we can’t wait to start our lives there.

I’m not generally a sappy person, so I won’t go on and on. Suffice it to say that this is a difficult thing for us to do but we are happy to be moving forward. We’ll be visiting Bulgaria whenever we get the chance, so BG posts will continue–never fear!

I may no longer be an “official” expat, but I think I’ll always be one at heart!

(If you have no idea what I am talking about, click here)

Thanks for following along with us on this crazy journey of ours! Stick around. There is a lot more to come!

W.

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*Re-post* Road Trip Round Up: Nessebar, Burgas, and Sozopol

I thought a little blast from the past was in order today.

Last March, Vince and I took an incredible road trip across Bulgaria. Our visit to Veliko Tarnovo was a highlight, but nearly breaking my ankle there really put a damper on the trip (click on the Veliko Tarnovo link below for the full story). After almost a year my ankle only recently stopped hurting. I wish we had been able to take another road trip this year, but life got in the way.

I leave Bulgaria and expat life behind tomorrow. Even though I won’t be living here anymore, I will always feel deeply connected to this amazing country. I hope this connection has shone through in my blog.

W.

My first attempt at a retro-postcard design in Photoshop!

Here are the previous posts in the series, if you want to take a look (and why wouldn’t you?!):

I’ve had such great comments and feedback on this series so far. I truly enjoy sharing my travels and photography with others. So thanks, ya’ll!

Now on to the gorgeousness that is the Bulgarian Black Sea coast!

Our first stop was Nessebar (Несебър), a small island connected to the mainland by an isthmus. This picturesque little spot on the sea was charming as could be. I’ve heard the place is completely packed in the summer months, but it was pretty much just Vince, myself, and a few locals here and there. That’s really how all of our stops were–deserted, quiet, and calm. I would love to head back to all of our stops during the summer months, but I am so happy that I was able to experience them without the crowds of tourists. I feel they are their more authentic selves in the off season.

Nessebar is a photographers paradise–small and easily navigable on foot, sun drenched fishing boats float lazily in the sea, the sound of seagulls ever present, and medieval churches stand strong amongst the newer structures.

I could have lazed about on the island for hours. Instead, we walked around a bit, drove the entire perimeter of the island, and I snapped photos throughout.

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Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Bachkovo Monastery

*Linky below*

This post covers two trips to Bulgaria’s beautiful Bachkovo Monastery – the second largest monastery in the country. The first was a quick stop for Vince and I when we were on our way down to Smolyan in November – right at the height of the beautiful fall colors. The second was in December when my mom visited and we made a stop there on the way back to Sofia from Smolyan.

Like I said…doing a lot of blog post catch-up over the next few weeks!

Hope you enjoy the photos (there are a lot of them)!
Bachkovo MonasteryBachkovo MonasteryBachkovo MonasteryBachkovo Monastery
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Free Sofia Tour in Photos

When my friend K. was visiting us in January, we hoofed it up the hill at my apartment complex and hopped the Metro into the city. It was my first adventure outside the apartment without Vince and it felt really liberating. After hearing about it for a few years, I figured joining the tour was a good idea and a great way to give K. an overview of Sofia’s most well known buildings and attractions. The weather was also unseasonably warm and beautiful for January, so that was a huge bonus as well!

The Free Sofia Tour is a no-cost English-language walking tour of Sofia’s center led by volunteers. Our tour started near the lion statues at the Palace of Justice and wound through the center, past many notable and important sites, before ending at the Parliament building. Our guide (I forget his name) was really nice and knowledgeable; I learned a lot more about the city’s long, interesting, and (at times) tumultuous history.

(hover over photos for titles)
Meeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticeMeeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticePalace of JusticeSveta Nedelya Church

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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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