Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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One Week, Random Thoughts, and a GIANT Thank You!

As much as I’d like to keep plugging away at my road trip posts, I thought I’d take a break today and reflect (a bit) on the last three months of my life–along with some other bits and pieces.

Road Trip Round Ups will resume tomorrow

This time next week I will be on a plane headed back to Utah. It’s one month there visiting friends and family (and scarfing my way through all the foods I have been missing), then off to Denali, Alaska for a another summer under the Midnight Sun (search “Alaska” in the search bar if you want to read some of my AK posts!). As much as I want to be back in Utah and Alaska, I hope the time passes quickly so that I can get back to Ventsi and Bulgaria–oh and patatnik, LOVE me some patatnik! And lyutenitsa, can’t forget that delicious stuff!

I arrived in Bulgaria at the end of December, full of excitement for what my time here would bring.

That time has been a blur of snow, new foods, new holidays, meeting new family members, working, and traveling. Most importantly, it has been a time to finally live out my newlywed days with the hubster. He did leave for Bulgaria 2 days after we were married, after all!

I have truly enjoyed every minute of it–even with a struggle or two here and there–and I am so looking forward to coming back home (for Bulgaria is my new home) in the fall.

We’ll be living in Sofia when I return, so that is something to look forward to!

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Road Trip Round Up: Koprivshtitsa

The small museum-filled town of Koprivshtitsa was the first stop on our trip across the country. Koprivshtitsa’s claim to fame is its huge amount of preserved National Revival-era houses (built anywhere from 1762-1878) and the role it played in the uprising against the Turks on April, 20th 1876-known as the April Uprising. On that date, it is said that Todor Kableshkov fired the first shots from a small bridge in the town, now known as Kalachev or Kableshkov Bridge.

I had heard so much about this quaint little village and, thankfully, it did not disappoint in the slightest. Vince and I, along with one other couple, were the only people (that I saw) touring the town’s house museums on the day we visited. It was easy to see how such a small village could be so massively popular with tourists in the warmer months. The 400+ preserved structures set along narrow cobblestone alleys, combined with charming little shops selling homemade preserves, honey, crafts, and traditional clothing, make the town a must-see.

As we visited on a Tuesday, 3 of the 6 house museums were closed. We were able to purchase a ticket that covered the other 3 which were open: Oslekov House, Debelyanov House, and Kableshkov House. Luckily, these are the 3 best examples of architecture from the period (or so we were told), especially the Oslekov and Kableshkov Houses.

Oslekov, a rich merchant who was killed in the April Uprising, built a grand house and outfitted it with many items collected during his travels.  Oslekov House is considered the bet example of Revival-period architecture in Koprivshtitsa and is now an ethnographic museum. Conveniently, nearly all of the exhibits and plaques are translated into English.

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Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Vince and I are back from our road trip across Bulgaria.

It was amazing and I am so happy that I got to see more of the country. Bulgaria’s landscapes are so diverse, rugged, and charming.

I took over 2,000 photos in just 5 days, so I had plenty to sift through for this week’s SHH.

And I am taking every opportunity I can to get some of the photos I took up on my blog. Be prepared for lots more in the coming days!

Hope you enjoy!

1) Vintage

Picking a photo for this prompt was tough! As we toured so many villages, museums, and old houses on our journey, I have loads of photos of really interesting old things. I ultimately chose this little cradle–which was in one of the house museums we toured–as I thought it was just so sweet.

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Road Tripping Bulgaria

Vince and I set out on our road trip across Bulgaria today. The hotel when we are staying at in Hisarya has internet, so I thought I would take advantage and get a quick post up.

Our first stop today was in Plovdiv to get the lock on the hatchback of our car fixed. All the salt, sand, and dirt from these Bulgarian roads really does a number on moving parts!

Next we stopped by Vince’s school so that he could sign his diploma. My man officially has his Masters (and is only one exam away from another!). We will likely be returning to Plovdiv near the end of the month for his graduation party.

We gradually made our way to Koprivshtitsa–home to the most preserved examples of traditional Bulgarian architecture. The town was lovely. We toured 3 of the houses which are open to visitors and explored the cemetery where some local heroes are buried. We both left vowing to return one day when the weather is warm.

We are staying in Hisarya tonight as I have a friend from Utah who is here on The World Race. We went out to dinner with her entire group. It was great fun getting to see her and meet her traveling companions. I have to give it to them, 11 countries in 11 months. Wow!

We are going to explore more of the city tomorrow so that we can see the amazing Roman ruins by the light of day. We’ll be in Veliko Tarnovo tomorrow night and Burgas for the next few nights after that. I am so looking forward to seeing the Black Sea for the first time.

Lots more info and pictures in the coming days!

W.


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Big Plans

This Sunday, my in-laws are throwing a big get together with my Father-in-Law’s side of the family here at our apartment.

We are expecting about 20 people total. I am pretty nervous as everyone is coming to meet me. That’s a lot of pressure!

We already got together with my Mother-in-Law’s side of the family about a month ago, so that’s good. Baby steps to meeting me new (massive) family is the way to go.

Vince and his parents have been planning the menu for weeks. He even asked me if I brought a dress with me to wear. HA! NO! My nice jeans and a black top will have to suffice.

We went out today to get all the groceries. About 6 stops and lots of money later, we came home with everything we need. We’ve got 4 kinds of cheese, 5 salami, lots of finger foods, basically half of a cow and a couple whole chickens, tons of vegetables, and enough alcohol to stock a small bar. This is going to be one rockin’ Sunday lunch. Bulgarian’s sure know how to throw a shindig!

On Monday (hopefully not any worse for wear from Sunday’s events), we are going to be packing and preparing for our cross-country (ish) road trip.

We are leaving Smolyan on Tuesday and will end up in Burgas sometime over the weekend, where we’ll spend a few days exploring the Black Sea coast. I am trying to ignore the control-freak trip planner inside of me as Vince wants the trip to be more spontaneous. It does have its advantages, as we can spend as much time or as little time in each place, depending on how much we like it.

In between, we will be staying the night  in  Hisarya (where I will be meeting up with a great friend, J., from Utah who is in BG on The World Race), visiting Koprivshtitsa, Sopot, Karlovo, Kalofer, Shipka, Gabrovo/Etara, Veliko Tarnonvo (over night), and Kazanlak.

Once we get to Burgas, we are hoping to have enough time to branch out and explore Nessebar and Sozopol as well. March probably isn’t the best time to go to enjoy the sea, but it means less crowds, which is always nice.

On the way home, we hope to stop and spend the night in Plovdiv. We have some friends who want to meet up before I leave at the end of the month. Weirdly enough, both of them will be in Alaska this summer, so I will get to see them in a few months anyway!

I have been looking forward to traveling since I got here in December. Originally, we had hoped to visit Greece or Turkey, but the massive amounts of snow we got this winter prevented venturing very far from home. Now that it has warmed up, we decided to just see more of Bulgaria, which is fine by me!

My time in Bulgaria is quickly coming to an end. I am happy to be meeting new family and seeing more of the country before I leave for the states. I am really torn up about having to leave Vince, but I just keep reminding myself that it will be our last time apart and I will be back in the fall.

Big plans for this month in Bulgaria! Going out with a bang!

W.