Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Random 5 Friday

Yes. I am still alive.

Yes. I am LOVING being back in Alaska, my job, and all the adventures that both provide.

Yes. I still blog (albeit very infrequently these day).

Hoping to change that soon.

(don’t know why I am answering questions that no one is asking…)

I figured I’d jump back in to the blogging world with a short, fun post. Just my style!

I almost forgot I had a husband. That's how busy I've been! ;)
Welcome to my first Random 5 Friday.

1. I haven’t picked up my “Big Girl” camera (Nikon D90) in weeks. My iPhone 5 is now my go-to camera of choice; mostly because of its convenience (read: SO much easier to carry around than my huge DSLR!).

2. The lodge opened a little over two weeks ago to snow and freezing temps. Flash forward to today and we are in the low 80’s. Overnight the trees started to sprout leaves and there are even hints of the famous Alaska wildflowers showing here and there.

Holy moly... It's hot outside! And to think, it was snowing just a few weeks ago!

3. We are beyond excited to be getting a new car. We won’t be buying anything until July, but I can already feel the wind in my hair; hear the blasting radio (well…not too loud. I hate loud music), and see the stunning scenery along Alaska’s Parks Highway. I won’t like having a car payment again, but living in the sticks demands transportation in order to maintain some semblance of sanity!

4. So far this season I have met a Snowy Own, Great Gray Owl, and a Bald Eagle. The bird program at the lodge is awesome!

Petra the Bald Eagle joined us today. She is beautiful!My co-workers are pretty cool!This is my kind of display table... Frozen rats and all!

5. I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, but living in Bulgaria and now having access to barista-made coffee drinks daily (at our espresso bar) have made me a convert.

 Feel free to link up your own R5F post below.

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A Visit to Talkeetna

Nagley's Store - Talkeetna, Alaska
Yesterday, Vince, myself, and one of my employees volunteered in Talkeetna for their Earth Day festivities.

Talkeetna – a quirky little town of about 800 residents – is about an hour from where we live. It’s famous for being the home base for climbers of Mt. McKinley, the inspiration for the town of Cicely on the TV show Northern Exposure, and as the filming location for the Disney film Snow Dogs.

Bustling downtown #Talkeetna, #Alaska. Can't wait for many summer adventures here!Untitled

I’ve visited the town several times in years past but it never gets old. I absolutely love its artsy vibe, unique stores, and fun restaurants.

After helping out the National Park Service at their event, we headed to the Roadhouse for a treat. Vince and I shared a giant cinnamon roll with frosting. Oh my. It was delicious! We’ll definitely be stopping by again on our next visit.Talkeetna RoadhouseTalkeetna RoadhouseEnjoying a "Frosty" after our Earth Day volunteer project. So good!He said it was "too sweet." He has so many things to learn, my new American boy! ;)

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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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Catching Up…Again!

I am a huge slacker. Plain and simple.

Since getting to AK, I have only turned my laptop on a few times. My iPhone is enough for most things, but clearly not for blogging as I haven’t posted much of anything for weeks!

Many apologies.

My boss and I picked up Vince and one of my employees in Anchorage earlier this week. He’s thrilled to be back; that boy LOVES Alaska! He doesn’t start working for another week, so he has just been hanging out.Vince's first night back in Alaska.

This weekend we drove the 2 hours to Denali and Healy to spend the night and go to a former co-worker’s annual wine party. It was a blast seeing everyone and enjoying free-flowing adult beverages, fancy appetizers, and their stunning view. Visiting our peeps in HealyUntitled#sunset over #denali #alaska

We also got to eat at our favorite dive bar/diner (Totem Inn). Their Monte Cristo sandwich is To.Die.For! Yum! #montecristo #denalieats #toteminn #alaska

About 2am this morning, I got a call from a friend that the Northern Lights were out. I bundled up and headed out into the below zero temps. They were indeed performing their usual swirling dance. Even though they weren’t super bright, they are still so beautiful and I am in awe every time I am lucky enough to see them.I didn’t have my Nikon with me, unfortunately, so I wasn’t able to get any photos. Untitled

 

Another weekend has come and gone far too quickly. Back to work tomorrow! We are planning on a more low key weekend next week. I have gone to Denali the past two weekends, and although the drive is beautiful, I am looking forward to sticking closer to home for awhile!

What have you been up to lately? I miss interacting with everyone! 

W.


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Shiroka Laka’s Pesponedelnik (Kukeri) Festival 2013

We’ve only been back in Smolyan for a few days and already we are traveling up a storm! On Saturday we drove out to our village house to pick up some potatoes and bottled goods and see how the property fared over the winter (it was looking good and there wasn’t even a hint of snow left!) We then went to visit family (our adorable 14-month-old grand-nephew, Konstantin) nearby before taking a longer route back to Smolyan.

Sunday we went to the 2013 Pesponedelnik Festival in the village of Shiroka Laka. We went last year as well and knew that we had to try and make it back this year because we enjoyed it so much. I’ve said it before, but I absolutely adore Shiroka Laka. This little village is beyond charming on an ordinary day; add a lively festival with Kukeri’s, unique shopping, and yummy food and I am there!Shiroka Laka Pesponedelnik Festival 2013Shiroka Laka Pesponedelnik Festival 2013Shiroka Laka's main squareMe with some kukeri

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Exploring Istanbul | Part One

*Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, relax, and settle in…this is a long one!*

I know I have been putting up a lot of travel posts recently (ahem…5 on Vienna alone!), but with the absolutely amazing travels I’ve been blessed with the past few months…I can’t help it! Because Istanbul is so fresh in my mind, I am going to tackle it first and then finally get around to posting about our AMAZING cruise a few months ago (where does the time go?!). Vince and I don’t have anything major planned for the next few months, just a few trips here and there in Bulgaria (and possibly a weekend trip to Greece if we can afford it), so expect more varied posts coming up.

Alrighty…Let’s talk Istanbul!

Blue Mosque
Istanbul is a surprising city. It’s likely not what most people would expect. While it is heavily influenced by the Muslim faith; everyone seems to live in relative harmony, no matter their religious beliefs. Simply standing in one spot and thinking about all the world changing events that occurred there is, at times, overwhelming. Istanbul is right up there with Rome and Athens when it comes to sheer historical significance. The city itself is sparkling clean (in most areas) and seems to be very safe. I don’t know why these two things surprised me, but they did. It does still have that gritty feel that huge cities inevitably take on over time–and that makes it even more appealing and interesting. The juxtaposition of old (we’re talking ancient, here!) and new is nearly seamless. Based on the look and feel of Istanbul alone, it is hard to believe that Turkey is not yet a member of the EU. I hate to admit it, but in many respects it seems to deserve membership more than Bulgaria. The differences in the border facilities alone are staggering. One definitely knows when they have crossed over from run-down, litter-strewn Bulgaria into shining new and tidy Turkey.

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Fun in Plovdiv with the Denali Crew

My friend K. who is visiting from Alaska also happens to be my boss in Denali (for Princess Cruises). She’s been there for years and has always had a large staff of Bulgarians working for her–mostly big, burly Bell staff men. She sometimes refers to them as her “Bulgarian Mafia.” Don’t know how accurate that really is, but you never know! 😉 All I do know is that they are a great bunch of guys (and one gal who is a supervisor in housekeeping) that I am happy to call my friends.

*cue sappy muzak*

When she made plans to come to Bulgaria we knew that a large get together with everyone was in order. Almost all of us (besides Vince and I and another married Bulgarian/American couple who live in the states) live in or around Plovdiv and Asenovgrad. We made Plovdiv our home base for a night last weekend and booked a room at a hostel (Hostel Mostel, which wasn’t all that great, btw). All of the plans were made and all we had to do was show up at Restaurant Arbanasi ready to party.
Denali Gang

The food was delicious but the entertainment was what it was all about. We had the best table in the house (thanks F. for making the reservation “for your American friends who get the best table in the house.”) When Vince hears Bulgarian music and has any amount of alcohol in him…he turns into a dancing fool. Having a few glasses of wine myself, I eventually joined in as well.

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