Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Bulgarian Liberation Day

Bulgarian Flag

135 years ago today, Bulgaria was liberated from 500 years of Ottoman rule.

As you can imagine, March 3rd is a very meaningful day in the country and most people celebrate in some way. Later this evening in Smolyan there will be a public gathering and fireworks display. Even with continued national protests and government strife, Bulgarians are proud of their country and heritage.

It is common to see statues and memorials of liberation heroes decorated with flower wreaths and handwritten notes of thanks. Yesterday, on our way to Rudozem, we passed the Polkovnik Serafimov monument–high in the mountains above Smolyan– and it was covered in beautiful flower arrangements.

bulgaria_national_day_2013-1057007-hp

Being married to a Bulgarian has made me feel much more invested in this country and its history. Our children will be half-Bulgarian and I want them to be proud of their heritage–on both sides.

To all of my Bulgarian friends and family, Happy Liberation Day!

W.

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Честита Баба Марта! (Happy Grandma March!) | 2013

Честита Баба Марта!

(Happy Grandma March)

martenitsa2

March 1st is one of my favorite Bulgarian holidays.

Why you ask?

MARTENITSI!

Martenitsa_magnolia

These red and white bits of awesomeness make for one great month!

Read about martenitsi and the holiday here and here.

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The big move back to Smolyan is today so things will be a little quiet on GMB for a few days until we get internet.

We’re heading to Shiroka Laka tomorrow for the 2013 Pesponedelnik/Kukeri Festival, so expect lots of photos when I return!

♥W.

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Lovey Dovey Day

To the BEST husband a girl could ever ask for…

My Hunky Bear,

(AKA The Bulgarian Stud Muffin)

Happy Valentine's Day!

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P.S. Happy V-Day to my readers as well. It may just be a greeting card holiday, but it’s darn fun! I hope you are celebrating with the one(s) you love most.

P.P.S. Happy Birthday to my Aunt S. Love you, Sher!

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Vienna Christmas Markets: Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz

We ventured out to Vienna’s city hall, Rathaus, after it got dark one evening to check out the largest Christmas Market in the city. The Wiener Christkindlmarkt was beyond packed but it was very festive and I am glad we got to see and experience it.

The market sits between the city hall building and the theater. The city hall is a beautiful building and setting and there are thousands of Christmas lights surrounding it and a huge illuminated tree in front, making it even more romantic.Wiener ChristkindlmarktVienna's Rathaus (city hall)Angel Christmas lightsRathaus Christmas Market

We decided to give the beer punsch a try this time around. It had whole berries in it and I liked it a lot more than the gluhwein we had at Schonbrunn palace. The mug was much more fun and Christmas-y as well. All in all, though, it’s just not my thing! Give me a mug of hot chocolate, and I’m good!

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Vienna Christmas Markets: Schönbrunn Palace

On our first morning in Vienna we set out for Schönbrunn Palace and its famed Christmas Market.

The 1,400 room palace was the long time home of the Hapsburgs and remains one of the most important and well known sites in Austria. The sheer size of it is staggering. While it’s a bit sparse in the winter, I think the gardens would be incredible in the summer months.

No visit to the city during the 4 weeks of advent would be complete without a visit to at least one Christkindlmarkt/Weihnachtsmarkt, as they are known locally. The city is brimming with them, both large and small, and the Schonbrunn market was my favorite of the two we went to.

The market sits directly in front of the grand palace and is packed with food stands and gift stalls.
Crowds outside Schonbrunn PalaceSchonbrunn Palace, ViennaOn the steps of Schonbrunn PalaceChristmas wares at SchronbrunnBecause we visited in the early afternoon there weren’t too many people about. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, so this was more than fine by me. It gave us the chance to wander the many stalls and admire the beautiful and charming holiday decor without having to jostle for a spot. I am absolutely in love with traditional German Christmas handicrafts, such as smokers and candle arches. We found a stand with the most adorable and unique smokers. My mom and I thought the prices were a little steep, but now we regret not buying any (luckily they have a website!).

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Scenes from Vienna’s Naschmarkt

Whew! Another holiday season has come and gone. I’m happy to be home in Sofia and back to day-to-day life; which includes sharing my adventures and experiences with you all!

I hope your holidays were wonderful and you were able to celebrate with those you love most.

Vince and I were so happy to have my mom come from Utah to visit us here in Bulgaria. She is officially our first visitor from the states and definitely not our last (a friend is actually coming in just a few weeks!). We kicked off her visit by spending 3 jam-packed days in Vienna to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s a lovely city and we had a great time wandering the Christmas Markets, window shopping, eating good food, and exploring such an iconic European destination so rich in history and culture.

And Christmas is definitely the perfect time to visit. The city practically oozes festive charm.

Right across from our hostel in the 6th District was an open-air market called the Naschmarkt.

Naschmarkt, ViennaVintage glass ornaments and drawer pullsChristmas centerpieces

The large market was filled to the brim with food and drink carts, tables of antiques, gifts, flowers, clothing, and Christmas goodies. We had to wander through multiple times as it was set up right next to the metro station closest to where we were staying. It was all I could do to not go home with dozens of vintage trinkets and Christmas decorations. Alas, we were on a budget and I was too overwhelmed by the vast selection anyway.

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