Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


10 Observations on Our Valentine’s Day Getaway

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, Vince and I headed to Plovdiv for a day of shopping, fun, and one-on-one time. Instead of my usual rehashing of the day’s events, I thought I would tell you all about it in a list of 10 observations I made throughout the day.

1. Dual voltage hair dryers are great, but when using one you must remember to switch the button over to 22ov from 120v–Frying my expensive blow dryer and almost starting the apartment on fire was not the best way to start off our day (and I wasn’t even using it to dry my hair, which I rarely do, I was using it to dry the sleeve of my sweater!)

2. Finally seeing the sunshine after many weeks of gloomy fog and snow is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face–I almost forgot how blue the sky could be here in Smolyan. The beautiful weather yesterday (and today!) is making me yearn all the more for spring.

3. It’s easier to appreciate the beautiful snow in Pamporovo when the roads aren’t covered in it and your car has brakes–Although there are two ways in and out of Smolyan , we always take the Pamporovo route and yesterday I was so happy that we did! It was stunning.

4. Plovdiv’s Mall Galeria is a huge waste of time–Big but half the stores are empty, there wasn’t a movie theater (that we could find, anyway), and the parking garage is like an elaborate maze.

5. Mall Plovdiv, however, is awesome–We found free parking right next to the doors, all the shops are open, and there’s a great movie theater.

6. KFC and gelato can make for a delicious Valentines Day lunch–We were both too relaxed to be bothered with finding a romantic place to eat, so we just went the mall food court route and got some chicken and fries. If mall gelato is yummy, I can only imagine how delicious the real Italian stuff must be! One day I’ll find out!

7. Romantic chick-flicks are perfect for VDay entertainment–We saw The Vow and it was pretty good. We both cried, we are sappy like that. I love that my husband is manly enough to enjoy a romance movie and tear up over it. He’s such a stud!

8. No butter topping for popcorn at the movies? Whaaaat?!–I asked Vince to ask the concessions stand worker if they had butter for the popcorn and he had no idea what we were talking about. I was bummed at first–being an American used to overly buttery popcorn–but it turns out I prefer it plain. It was delicious and we polished it offer before the previews were even over!

9. There’s nothing like receiving a girly Valentine’s Day gift from your husband on your first VDay as a married couple–Vince got me something I have coveted for many years–Miss Dior Cherie perfume. I cannot tell you how much I love it! I got him a pair of jeans and we’re still hunting for a shirt that he likes. He is worse than any girl I have ever met when it comes to clothes. That man is picky!

I LOVE this perfume!

10. I am so thankful to have Vince as my husband, best friend, and partner-in-crime–I feel it every day, but yesterday I was especially mindful of how blessed I am to have such a sweet and caring husband. I truly don’t know what I would do without him. I LOVE YOU, VENTSI!


I was having such a blast being out of the house that I completely forgot to take any pictures of Vince and I. I think that truly speaks for how amazing the day was if I didn’t pull my camera out every five seconds!

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day as well!

If I were back home in Utah I would have posted a few pictures of my vintage Valentine’s collection. I received a ton of them when my great-grandparent’s passed away. The cards and sayings are so sweet! None of the overly-commercialized character stuff like kids give out today.

Speaking of popcorn...

Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I loved decorating my box at school with pink, red, and white hearts and lacy doilies, and getting all the cute little notes and candies from my classmates. Aw, memories!

Much love,



Crazy Weekend in Sofia

If you are friends with Girl Meets Bulgaria over on Facebook, you probably saw that I posted about my husband and I’s visit to Sofia this past weekend.

*If we aren’t friends, click the “Like” link in the sidebar so that we can be!

I’ve held off posting about it because part of me just wants to forget the weekend even happened! Alas, I can’t help but share all the gory details.

This is a bit long… But here we go!

We got up before the sun (which never makes me happy) on Friday morning to make sure we had ample time to make it to Sofia for Saltimbanco (the Cirque du Soleil show). It was cold and snowy, but nothing we didn’t think the car or driver (my cute hubby) couldn’t handle. Vince’s cousin hitched a ride with us to Plovdiv, so we had to stop by the bus station to pick him up before leaving town.

There are two ways in and out of Smolyan. One of them passes through Pamporovo. It’s generally snowy, but the roads are more likely to be plowed so that the tourists staying at the local hotels have access to the ski resort.

Trip Hiccup #1: Right as we were about the enter the main road leading towards Plovdiv after passing through Pamporovo, we came upon a few stopped cars. Vince got out to see what was up and was told by some policemen that they were plowing the road and that we would have to wait. And wait we did! Soon there were about 3o cars behind us and everyone was out of their cars smoking and discussing the delay (such a Bulgarian thing to do!). Eventually traffic started moving and we were on our way.

You may remember me mentioning that I diagnosed myself with sudden-onset narcolepsy (sounds so official, doesn’t it!). I simply cannot stay awake on long car (or plane) rides, so I was fast asleep by Chepelare and didn’t wake up until we exited in Plovdiv to drop Vince’s cousin off.

Trip Hiccup #2: Vince took the wrong exit and we ended up driving around Plovdiv for a bit trying to get back onto the main road. Really, this wasn’t a big deal. The freak-out came after we dropped his cousin off and he ran a red light because he didn’t want to wait the 58 seconds (most Bulgarian cities have handy timers on their traffic lights, so you know exactly how long you have to wait) for the light to change. Cars started honking and driving towards us and I lost my cool. I’m a screamer sometimes, and Vince definitely found out I don’t approve of running red lights!

I don’t mean to dis on my husband in this post (I love you honey!), I am just telling the facts!

We made up over lunch at a roadside McDonalds. Now, I should insert that I very rarely eat at Micky D’s (except their breakfast, which I like). However, this is my second time eating there since I have been ereh, and I have officially formed the opinion that McDonalds in Bulgaria blows McDonalds in America out of the water. Yes, the menus are a little odd (like the Maharaja Mac I ate at McDonalds in India) and the prices are a bit high, but the hamburgers are so much more delicious than in the states! I think it’s the spices, as I saw bits and pieces of them in the meat.

Anywho, my hubby and I were back to being lovey dovey after scarfing down our burgers, fries, and cokes!

We made it to Sofia with plenty of time to find a parking spot, check into our hotel, and laze about for a bit before heading out to find something to eat for dinner.

Trip Hiccup #3: Our hotel was in a nice location (near the hostel where we stayed on our last visit to the city), but we probably have the black lung now thanks to the extreme smell of cigarette smoke in the room. I am the suffer-in-silence type (well, Vince would argue the silent part) and didn’t go asked to have a new room. What is the point of selecting the non-smoking option if hotels don’t honor it? Ugh.

We didn’t feel like putting a lot of thought into dinner so we just walked around for a bit and went into the first pizza place we came to (Pizzeria Roma). It looked like Italy threw up all over inside the restaurant, but the pizza was decent and their “garlic bread” was actually more like a flat bread which reminded me of yummy garlic naan. We finished up dinner with plenty of time to spare to get to the show. Until…. We got back to where our car should have been parked and, well… It was no longer there!

Trip Hiccup #4: Our immediate thought was that it had been stolen. 15+ year old VW Polos are in high demand these day, you know! We had purchased plenty of Blue Zone parking passes and displayed them nicely on the dash, which would have helped had it been a Blue Zone… Yeah. We called the number on the sign and sure enough, it had been towed.

Continue reading


Snowed In

Finally a bit of sunshine!


Since arriving home from Sofia last Thursday, we have been pretty much confined to our apartment.

It has snowed off and on for days, but the issue really is the road conditions.

On Saturday, Vince and I tried taking a drive to Shiroka Laka (my favorite little Rhodope village) and were told by the police to turn back as even cars with chains on their tires were unable to make it up the road.

Basically all we have been doing is sitting on our butts watching TV.

(I am now addicted to a TV show called Bondi Vet. It follows two veterinarians in Australia. One of them… Yum!)

My MIL briefly attempted to teach me to knit slippers, but she quickly lost me amongst her tiny stitches.  I want to revisit it again soon, but in the meantime I see lots more lazing about in our near future.

The news each night makes it sound like Snowmagedon (that phrase is about as annoying as TruckTober–those of you in the states have probably heard that one) has arrived across Bulgaria.

We have heard tales of people being found dead out in the snow, whole villages going without power and water for days, and helicopters having to drop supplies to those poor souls who are stranded.

It’s a bit scary, really.

Luckily, things haven’t been that hard for us here in Smolyan. Other than a few short power outages, we have gotten away largely unscathed. The nearby ski resort, Pamporovo, however, had it a bit rough over the weekend. With all the recent snowfall they were doing quite well. We drove through on our way home from Sofia and the slopes were packed. On Friday night the power went out and the ski resort also lost water. Saturday saw a mass exodus of tourists.

Today, the sun is finally peeking through the clouds and the road crews are out in full force trying to make things at least manageable. We managed a small walk to go get a new router (we finally have internet!) and I dragged my monstrous camera with me to snap some photos (it’s about time I did another Scavenger Hunt Sunday).

Cabin fever has long since set in and I am desperate to take a day trip. Looks like we’ll be hitting Plovdiv sometime next week.



It’s Official!

I’m moving to Bulgaria!

Not that it wasn’t official before, but now that I have booked my airfare to Sofia, my nearly 3-year long goal of moving to Bulgaria is finally within my grasp.

I leave Salt Lake City on the morning of the 28th of December and arrive in Sofia (which I can only imagine will be foggy and frigid) the next afternoon, just in time to celebrate New Years Bulgarian style–which, from past experience, means family, food and fireworks!

I couldn’t be happier to be ringing in 2012 with my new husband in my new home!

I had a fantastic time on my previous visit to Bulgaria in 2008 (arrived end of December and stayed until the end of January) and am really looking forward to exploring more of the country and learning some Bulgarian.

Here are some pics from my visit in 2008:

Hiking the Smolyan Lakes trailhead

I ADORE the beautiful snow-covered trees


Me in downtown Smolyan

One of my favorite little towns-Shiroka Laka

Outside Devil's Throat cave

Inside Devil's Throat and Yagodina caves

Rila Monastery

In Mochura (near the Greek border)

Walkin' around Plovdiv

My {now} hubby and I at the Polkovnik Serafimovo monument

If you’d like to see more of my adventures in Bulgaria, check out my Flickr!

As always, thanks for reading!