Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Visiting Our Village House

Our village houseVince (and me by default, I suppose) owns a small house and quite a bit of land in the Bulgarian village of Elhovets. The house originally belonged to his dad and uncles, but he saved up some of his Alaska money and bought it from them before we met. His parents still live in the house in the summer months because they farm the land and do a lot of canning and bottling there. In fact, there is a HUGE underground cellar where we store all manner of food stuffs. It’s slightly creepy, but oh-so-efficient.Road towards Greece

It’s the most adorable cottage-y type house ever. We are really proud of it and have spent quite a lot of money over the past few years building additions and doing renovations. When all is said and done–in addition to the already-finished bathroom, kitchen, and living room–it will have 4 bedrooms and an outdoor kitchen/entertaining area. We still have a long way to go, but it’s coming along very nicely.

While my mom was visiting in December we went down to introduce her to my in-laws and spend a few nights in Smolyan. Of course we had to take a little day trip and show her our future retirement digs.

It was snowy but still accessible. I haven’t been to the house since last winter and the changes in that time are nothing short of amazing. We’ve now got a fully functioning indoor bathroom, kitchen addition, new doors, and a new staircase leading to the 2nd floor. There was a toilet before, but it was located in a building outside. No bueno.Bathroom renovation--DONE!Kitchen addition--cabinets ready to hangNew staircaseRaising the roof is a must!Mom and V.Our land

Our future plans include finishing up the kitchen, raising the height of the 2nd floor, finishing off the 3 bedrooms on that floor, redoing the balconies, replacing the exterior materials, and building an epic outdoor patio area that includes a built-in fireplace, benches, lighting…the works. The house is situated just feet from a beautiful river (with fish in it!), so this outdoor area is going to be amazing! I’m thinking a wall with cut-out candle niches and lots of fairy lights will make their way into the design somehow!

I’ve never been able to visit the house in the summer and it totally bums me out. I can only imagine how charming and pretty it is when all the flowers, trees, and grape vines are out and in bloom. I am sure the forested hillside behind the house is gorgeous as well.

One day…

Our village house

Owning property and a village/country house is common for Bulgarians. As jobs became more and more scarce in the smaller towns and villages after the fall of Communism, many people left to find work in the big cities. Now most people use their country properties as weekend and summer retreats. Between our apartment in Smolyan and house in Elhovets, Vince and I are set when it comes time to retire. That’s a pretty darn good feeling these days.

For all my Bulgarian readers, do you or your family have a village house? How often are you able to enjoy it?

I love hearing about other people’s relaxation getaways!

W.

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Weekend Recap

Asen's Fortress

We just returned from a weekend getaway to Smolyan and I am pooped.

Time sure passes quickly when you are having a good time!

It was a wonderful trip and I am so glad to finally be able to see and experience Bulgaria in the fall; it’s downright gorgeous.

The autumn colors here rival anything I have seen in Utah or Alaska.

I don’t have it in me to write up a full post tonight–after the 4-hour drive home we went grocery shopping and unpacked all my suitcases and the stuff we brought up from the apartment in Smolyan, so my energy levels are nil–BUT I can certainly recap all the awesome things we did:

  • We drove down after Vince got off of work on Friday night. I slept most of the way, but I did wake up in time to see Asen’s Fortress all lit up. Vince said the new lighting has been in place for awhile. It’s really something. I am looking forward to driving by again when it’s dark. When we arrived in Smolyan, around 10pm, my MIL had her yummy bean soup and klin (A Rhodopean-dish made with potatos and pastry) waiting for us.
  • Saturday we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather and attempt to reach Devil’s Bridge (Diavolski most). I have been obsessed with seeing the bridge for years but its location, 10km down an unpaved road from Ardino, make it impossible during the winter months (which has always been when I arrived in BG until now). The road was definitely rough and we ended up having to walk about 2 miles, but we made it and the end result was well worth the effort. The bridge is breathtaking (full post with pics to come!).
  • Saturday evening we relaxed, gorged ourselves on more of my MIL’s specialties, and I ended the night curled up in bed with a new book on my Kindle, Gone Girl.
  • This morning we packed up a bunch of stuff to take to our apartment and yes, ate some more! We got a fairly early start, so we decided to stop off at a few spots along the road: Bachkovo Monastery and Asen’s Fortress (yep, posts to come on these as well!).

 

All in all it was a quick but fun weekend. It was great seeing my in-laws after so long and they definitely took care of us and sent us home with TONS of food. We are set on bottled/canned goods for the entire winter, and good thing because I love my MIL’s peppers, lyutenitsa, jam, and….ok, basically everything she makes!

I don’t know how I managed to survive the first 25 years of my existence without a doting baba in my life!

Hope you all had a great weekend as well,

W.

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