Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


Fall/Winter Travel Plans

I simply cannot go a day without dreaming of my next travel adventure. It’s in my blood, I tell you!

Thankfully, After months of planning, Vince and my travel plans for this fall & winter are finally starting to come together. As if living and exploring in Bulgaria isn’t enough, we have to throw some international jaunts into the mix to keep things interesting. It’s one of the many joys of living in Europe.

First up is our long-awaited honeymoon…

Mediterranean Cruise

Less than 3 weeks from now, Ventsi and I will be bound for Rome. We are flying in a few days before our departure on the Crown Princess. We’ve been to Rome before as part of our last cruise, but we only had a day in port and we were definitely rushed. This time around we plan on savoring the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Eternal City. So far the only thing we have firmly planned is the Vatican’s tour of St. Peter’s Tomb–called the Scavi tour. On this amazing tour we will be led 3 stories directly beneath St. Peter’s Basilica to the reported resting place of St. Peter. We’ll be able to see and touch (and smell!) the actual foundations for the first church built on that spot. WOW! We were insanely luck to score tickets as they limit visitors to about 150 per day. Most people book months in advance, but I emailed the Vatican for S & Gs and they had 2 openings! I’m a history geek, so this rocks my socks. We didn’t get to see the Sistine Chapel last time, so we are definitely hitting up the Vatican Museums as well. We may try to find The Mouth of Truth–Roman Holiday fans will know why I want to go there!

We’ve been to many of the ports on our cruise (only Santorini, Olympia, Corfu, and Dubrovnik are new), so we mostly plan on hoofing it around the cities taking photos and generally enjoying the everyday scenery rather than booking full blown tours. We are, however, splurging for an excursion out of Naples. We didn’t particularly care for Naples the last time we visited; it’s not the safest place in the world. So rather than stay on the ship and lose out on seeing more of amazing Italy, we sucked it up and booked an excursion through Princess. Our 10-hour tour takes us to Pompeii for a guided tour; Sorrento for lunch and free time; and finally, to the isle of Capri via hydrofoil for a few hours of sun, sand, and sea.

We are pretty darn excited to finally be celebrating not only our honeymoon but our 1st anniversary as well. 2 weeks in the Med? Perfection!

Next up, a holiday getaway…

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Travel Tales: A Disneyland Christmas

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. – Tim Cahill

Before Christmas becomes another foggy memory and we all pack up our decorations and holiday spirit (if you haven’t already), I thought I would post some photos of my trip to the magical land o’ Disney in December of 2007.

I went with my best friend, E., her younger sister, and their cousin. I have known them all since I was 11 years old and they are basically my second family.

Girls Trip!

As some background, it was not my first trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I had been there a few times before.

My first visits to Disneyland, I just wasn’t really feeling it. Which is weird because I was young and at that ripe Disney-fanatic age.

For some reason, I just didn’t think it was all that special.

Flash forward to my 3rd visit and something clicked. Again, it was a trip with my bestie and her entire family (I’m sure that trip will show up on Travel Tales in the future).

I have been multiple times since, and am now a full-fledged Disneyland junkie. I constantly have the urge to pop some Mickey ears on my head and beeline for Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain (my two favorite rides).

I’m currently in the process of conning Vince into a visit to Southern California on his next visit to the states.

I’d love to make it to Disney World or one of the overseas Disneyland resorts someday as well.

Back to this particular trip…

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Christmas Eve Traditions


First off, I have to say that I am incredibly happy to be able to spend one more Christmas with my family before moving to Europe.

I am sure we’ll all be together again some Christmas down the road, but right now, in the moment, it seems like the last one for a long time.

On the flip side, I get to start my own traditions with Vince and his family and, one day, our own kids. That’s pretty swell.

Plus, being so close to the Mecca of old-fashioned-y Christmas markets and general Christmas cheer, Germany, isn’t too bad either. Definitely going to plan a trip to Deutschland during Christmastime sometime in the future.

When my brothers and I were little we would spend Christmas Eve at our grandparent’s (my dad’s parents) house. They had a full bar in the basement and threw some pretty legendary holiday bashes with tons of family and friends. We also got awesome gifts, which was sweet.

Sadly (for us not them), my grandpa retired and they built a house in hot-as-hell Logandale, Nevada and moved there. While this meant no more awesome Christmas Eve parties, it did mean summers on the surface of the sun. Woo hoo!

After they moved, our Christmas Eves turned into a more immediate family affair and my parents, brothers, and I would usually spend the night at home watching Christmas movies and eating (I still love summer sausages this time of year).

My parents always let us each open a gift which was usually a board game. We’d then spend the evening playing games (read: fighting and crying until we were forced to put the games away). It’s a tradition that I hope to continue with my own kids (the giving of games, not the fighting), as well as giving pajamas. I think opening up a pair of new, comfy pjs on Christmas Eve is great.

When my parents divorced a few years ago, we stopped really doing anything much the night before Christmas. In that sense, I am really happy to be at the point in my life where I will soon have kids to create traditions with. I think Christmas with kids is so much better than just 20-something Christmas with the folks.

I think that’s the reason why Annie, my 6-year-old cousin and youngest member of our family (by far) is lavished with gifts and attention on Christmas. There’s nothing better than watching a kid open their gifts from Santa!

It’s so odd being at that point in my life, especially now that I am married, where I get to decide what I think is important during the holidays, what traditions I want to carry on from my own childhood, and traditions I want to create for my own family. Odd, but in a good way.

Man, seems like just yesterday I was hiding in my closet with my blankey and little brother, waiting to sneak up on Santa (we both promptly fell asleep).

Now I am a “big kid,” thinking about Christmas Eve with my unborn children. Weird.

Time flies.

What are your Christmas Eve traditions?

No, Seriously. Tell me. I want to see if I can steal them and make them my own (and take all the credit, of course!).






Crunch Time

With Christmas just a week away and my flight across the Atlantic a few days later, I am beginning my pre-trip freak out… as usual.

I guess this one would qualify as a pre-move freak out. A whole new ball game.

I haven’t even done laundry or dug out my suitcases, let alone started packing.

And I hate leaving home without cleaning my room. So add that to the list.

Even more pressing? I haven’t Christmas shopped much at all. Vince insists that he doesn’t want anything now; that I can just buy him something when I get to Bulgaria. My mom and I, however, really wanted to get some gifts for his parents. Too bad he is useless and can’t give us any ideas on what to get them!

So, if you are reading this and familiar with 60-something Bulgarians, what are some gift ideas that we could get here in the states?

All I can think of are slippers and booze. Definitely two things not hard to find in BG.

I also want to pick up some New Years paraphernalia. When else it is appropriate to make a fool of oneself with party hats, weird glasses, and noise makers?!

My goal, albeit lofty, is the be completely packed and ready to go by Christmas Eve. I want to be able to spend my last few days with my family and friends as stress free as possible. Additionally, I know a certain little 6-year-old who will likely want me to play Wii with her 24-hours per day.

(Mario Kart here we come!)

We’ll see how that goes!

I hope to get a few more posts in before the move, but as you can probably tell, I have a lot on my plate!

On that note, I just want to thank everyone who has commented, subscribed, and stopped by this lil’ ole blog of mine this month.

I am having my best numbers yet and can’t wait to FINALLY be blogging from Bulgaria!






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Why Hello There, November!

It’s hard to believe that it is already November.

Time sure is a flyin’!

A week from today I will be on my way to Chicago, where I will  see the sights, walk my butt off (it needs it!), eats yummy food, take countless photos, and celebrate my 26th birthday!

Before I know it Thanksgiving will be here and that means more family time! I try to value every little moment as these may well be the last holidays I spend in Utah for a few years. *Tear*

The weather in Utah has suddenly shifted from crisp fall to the beginnings of frigid winter. Snow is predicted any day now.

Next month I move to Bulgaria. Yowza! After over three years of planning and hoping, it’s finally happening!

My goal, in the midst of the soon-to-be moving frenzy, is to take the time to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. I am all too tempted to wish they would just come and go so I can jump on a plane (and fly a ridiculously long time) to Bulgaria. We’ll see how well that goes!

If I know what’s good for me I will also spend the next two months “taking care of business.” As in: clean and organize my things (of which I have far too many) and sell those things that I no longer need/want. I have a huge stash of crafting and scrapbooking supplies that I hope to purge before my move. Not only are they just sitting in boxes gather dust, but I need some movin’ money!

So, that’s my plan for the next 8 weeks… Soak up family and friend time and de-clutter my life.

Wish me luck!