Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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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GMB’s Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spending your first Christmas away from is home hard. Spending that Christmas overseas is even harder.

But I’m doing my best to enjoy the season and get into the holiday spirit. And nothing says holidays like a big plate of cookies!

Baking is one of my favorite things to do, and while the kitchen may look like a tornado hit it when I’m through, the results are worth it.

I hope the hubs and my mom (who arrives in Sofia tomorrow! EEK!) enjoy them. And if you make them, I hope you do too!

Without further ado…

GMB’s Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ c white sugar
  • ½ c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ c chopped walnuts

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Preheat oven to 300F (174C)

Cream together white sugar, brown sugar, and softened butter. Stir in vanilla. Beat in egg until smooth. Add salt and baking soda, stir. Combine flour, chocolate chips, and walnuts until well mixed.

Drop large spoonfuls onto ungreased backing pan

Cook for 10 min. or until golden brown around edges

Makes: 2 dozen

*I usually double this recipe, but while we’d love to devour 48 cookies, 2 dozen is much more manageable!

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

Happy baking!


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Честита Баба Марта! (Happy Grandma March!) 2012

One year ago today, I wrote this post about Baba Marta (Grandma March) and how much I liked the holiday, even though I had never been in Bulgaria to celebrate it.

Well, my friends, that changed today! It’s March 1st!

The martenitsi have been out in full force on every street corner, but we have only gotten a few so far (which Vince’s mom gave us).

Pizho and Penda are my favorite!


Modeling some of our martenitsi

Once things warm up again and we can take a walk to the city center, I’ll be picking up some more. I am a sucker for accessories, so a holiday/month that is all about them? Yes please!

The spring-like weather from last week has turned into full on snow storms again this week.

The weird thing is that (until yesterday) it would be sunny one minute and snowing the next. But the overall trend was warmer weather and melting snow. Vince said this is Grandma March (being the woman that she is), crying one second and smiling the next. Basically, he is saying the women are emotional. I didn’t know whether to argue with him or agree!

There was no back and forth yesterday, it was nothing but snow and wind.

In addition to Baba Marta, March also brings another Bulgarian holiday.

March 8th in Bulgaria is International Women’s Day, a national holiday. Similar to Mother’s Day in the U.S., it has come to be a holiday focused on mothers. However, it’s really a celebration of all women.

Bulgarian men buy flowers for the women in their lives. Hmm. We’ll see how Vince does with this one!

He’s gotten me flowers for my birthday a few times and even brought some to the airport for me when I visited BG for the first time back in 2009. So I’m sure he’ll do a good job picking some out.

It’s looks like March is going to have some cool things in store for me. I am so happy to be here. Finally!

Celebrating holidays and learning new traditions is, in my opinion, one of the greatest parts of being an expat.

I am trying to enjoy every moment I am here as I will be returning to the U.S. at the end of the month. I’ll be spending a month in Utah visiting my fam and then it’s off to Alaska for the summer. But I’ll be back in Bulgaria in the fall, never fear

To all my Bulgarian friends, hope you are enjoying the day and are as excited for spring as I am!