Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Kordopulov House Museum | Melnik, Bulgaria

Church ruins and Kordopulov HouseVisiting the Kordopulov House Museum in Melnik was the best 4 lv Vince and I have ever spent!

I’m a sucker for historical architecture and museums in general, so Bulgarian house museums are the best of both worlds. Out of all the house museums I have been to, the Kordopulov House (built in 1754) is, by far, my favorite. The house is the largest of its kind in the country and is really a hidden gem. Alright, I am not sure about how “hidden” it is considering it’s one of the main attractions in Melnik, but I had never heard of it until reading up on the area in my LP guidebook and even then not much was said about how truly awesome it is. Kordopulov HouseEntrance to Kordopulov HouseKordopulov HouseKordopulov House Museum

For a whopping 2 lv (about $1.40) each, Vince and I were given free reign to tour the house, take photos (which I later read online other people have been charged for), explore the house’s huge wine cellar, and enjoy a wine tasting.

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Weekend Getaway | Melnik and Rozhen Monastery

MelnikMelnik, BulgariaLast weekend Vince and I took a little road trip to the lovely town of Melnik. This charming little village is famous for being the “smallest town in Bulgaria” as well as for its 600+ year winemaking tradition. The entire area is covered in vineyards and there are dozens of wineries dotting the rolling green and brown hillsides. In fact, rumor has it that Winston Churchill’s favorite wine was from the region and he stocked up on it often.

Melnik is settled in southwestern Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains. The area is noted for its unique–almost otherworldly–sandstone mountains and rock formations, into which many people have dug out labyrinthian tunnels to use as wine cellars for centuries.

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Pernik Surva Festival 2013

22nd Suva/Kukeri Festival in Pernik, Bulgaria

Last weekend Vince and I drove about 40 minutes outside of Sofia to the nearby town of Pernik.

Each year the city plays host to the largest Surva Festival in not only Bulgaria but all of Eastern Europe (according to the event’s website). Kukeri/Mummer groups from all over Europe attend the event and parade through the city center in their costumes and masks before performing a short routine before a panel of judges.

Kukeri Festival--Pernik, BulgariaParticipants of all ages

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Exploring Istanbul | Part Two

On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, Istanbul, has its place in the hearts of all citizens. –Atatürk

Walking the streets of IstanbulAwesome reflection of the Blue MosqueGerman Fountain, Hagia Sophia, and part of the Blue Mosque complex

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Exploring Istanbul | Part One

*Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, relax, and settle in…this is a long one!*

I know I have been putting up a lot of travel posts recently (ahem…5 on Vienna alone!), but with the absolutely amazing travels I’ve been blessed with the past few months…I can’t help it! Because Istanbul is so fresh in my mind, I am going to tackle it first and then finally get around to posting about our AMAZING cruise a few months ago (where does the time go?!). Vince and I don’t have anything major planned for the next few months, just a few trips here and there in Bulgaria (and possibly a weekend trip to Greece if we can afford it), so expect more varied posts coming up.

Alrighty…Let’s talk Istanbul!

Blue Mosque
Istanbul is a surprising city. It’s likely not what most people would expect. While it is heavily influenced by the Muslim faith; everyone seems to live in relative harmony, no matter their religious beliefs. Simply standing in one spot and thinking about all the world changing events that occurred there is, at times, overwhelming. Istanbul is right up there with Rome and Athens when it comes to sheer historical significance. The city itself is sparkling clean (in most areas) and seems to be very safe. I don’t know why these two things surprised me, but they did. It does still have that gritty feel that huge cities inevitably take on over time–and that makes it even more appealing and interesting. The juxtaposition of old (we’re talking ancient, here!) and new is nearly seamless. Based on the look and feel of Istanbul alone, it is hard to believe that Turkey is not yet a member of the EU. I hate to admit it, but in many respects it seems to deserve membership more than Bulgaria. The differences in the border facilities alone are staggering. One definitely knows when they have crossed over from run-down, litter-strewn Bulgaria into shining new and tidy Turkey.

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Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Quirky Turkey

**Linky Below** Mannequins outside a restaurantFalse storefrontsEvil Eye planterA turkey in Turkey!Istanbul's famous Pudding Shop

The Lale Restaurant (or Pudding Shop, as it’s more commonly called) is a located in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul.

Wikipedia has this to say, “It became popular in the 1960s as a meeting place for hippies and other travelers on overland route between Europe and India, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia – the ‘hippie trail’. The restaurant got its colloquial name as a result of “word-of mouth” from numerous foreign travelers that could not remember the name of the eatery but did remember the wide and popular selection of puddings sold there and thus referred to it as the ‘pudding shop’.” The restaurant featured in the book and movie Midnight Express (NOT a movie to watch right before venturing to Turkey!).

A big part of me wishes I had hung out here and then started my own journey to Asia!

(I’ll have proper Istanbul posts up this week, but for now you can check out some photos of my trip on Flickr.)

Happy Wednesday!

xo

W.

Please comment and link up your own WW post below!

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Exploring The Commons: People and their Pets

I often find myself searching through The Commons on Flickr for hours at a time. I love historical/black and white photography and this place is the absolute mother lode.

The Commons is an archive of public photography from around the world. Most of the photos are out of copyright/in the public domain and can be used in a variety of ways; usually without any attribution (great for us bloggers). The photos range from quirky and fun to touching and heartbreaking. Some date back to the beginnings of photography while others are much more recent.

Because I spend so much time on the site and find so many great photos, I thought I would start a regular series here on the blog where I share my favorites with you. Some posts, like today’s, will have some sort of theme; other days they will just be random.

Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on the pictures or provide links to your favorite photos in The Commons.

*You can hover over each photo for the title or click through to link the the original on Flickr*
Dog with backpack, 1939 / by Sam HoodZookeeper and bearsStudy of a girl with ringlets teaching her dog to sit up, 1930s / by Sam HoodRoyal Easter Show, 1935 / by Sam HoodStudy of a small girl with a prize Scottish terrier dog, c. 1935 / by Sam HoodEvacuation from Tobruk, 1941Llangefni children enjoying the sun with their pet rabbit

I think I’ve been drawn to these photographs this week because I am missing my pups back at home in Utah. I’ve had pets from the day I was born, so being here in Bulgaria with no kitty or pup to love on is tough. The fact that there are so many strays in Sofia makes it even worse. I want to brings each and every one of them home. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible (obviously), so I have to make due by feeding them whenever I can. Perhaps this makes the problem worse, but I can’t help it.

These photos of children, soldiers, and others enjoying their pets and showing them love helps to mend my aching heart.

And that little girl in the white dress with her puppy? Too cute for words.

W.

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