Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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A Roman Cat Fight

Hello, all!

I am slowly but surely going through all my photos from our vacation, so expect lots of posts soon.

Tonight, however, I had to put up a quick post about the infamous feline residents of Sacra di Largo Argentina or Torre Argentina, an area of important ruins in central Rome.

Wide shot of  Sacra di Largo Argentina, Rome

Why did I have to? Well, today as I was working I was listening to NPR on my computer (fairly typical daily activity). I saw the headline for a recent story they did on Morning Edition called Cat Fight In Rome: Beloved Shelter Faces Closure. (Give it a listen!)

The second the audio started I knew they were talking about an area Vince and I happened upon during our walk about the city a few weeks ago. At first glance the spot is typically Roman: ruined temples, crumbling walls, column remnants, etc. But then…BAM! You suddenly begin to notice one cat after another. I’m talking about dozens upon dozens of cats in a one block area. Spotting them was almost like playing an odd version of Where’s Waldo. They were mostly napping (some in a clump under a tree) on this particular day, but a few were stalking the darker recesses of the ruins, no doubt on the hunt for some rodent snacks.

Pile o' cats at  Sacra di Largo Argentina, Rome Continue reading


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Visiting the Vatican Necropolis (Tomb of St. Peter)

Waiting on our tour

Ticket for Vatican Scavi tour

I didn’t know what to expect from this rare behind-the-scenes (or should I say under the scenes) tour of the Vatican Necropolis (known as Scavi), which escorts visitors to the excavations of an ancient Roman cemetery, which was originally constructed next to the circus of Emperor Caligula. Discovered directly below St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s, the site was not announced to the public until the early 1960s.

The tour itself is hard to get onto. Most people email the Vatican Scavi office at least 3 months in advance to try to secure a spot on one of the few small group tours that enter the Necropolis each day–total visitors is capped at about 150 per day. I figured I’d email the Vatican and see if anything was available. Sure enough, they emailed me back fairly quickly with the date and time, should we accept (November 19, 11:45 am). That was it. If we wanted to go on the tour, that was our option.

I immediately paid the seemingly steep fee of 13€ for each ticket and patiently waited on my confirmation email, which came just as quickly as the first response (the Scavi office has their crap together).

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Home Sweet Home

Waiting for Vatican Scavi tour

Vince and I are back from a fabulous 2 weeks in the Mediterranean.

Sun (mostly). Sea. Incredible destinations. Cuddle time watching movies…It was magical.

While I needed (and enjoyed) an extended break from technology and the goings-on in the world, I am happy to have internet access back.

I have SO much to share with you all.

Final photo count between our 3 cameras is about 4000. Thank heavens for digital. **AmIright?!**

I have them all uploaded onto my hard drive but can’t even contemplate how long it will take to upload the best to Flickr and Facebook.

Colorful Santorini

BUT IT WILL GET DONE…Eventually. Never fear!

We arrived back in Sofia around 3pm this afternoon and after taking a taxi home to drop off our suitcases we headed back out to get groceries.

70 Leva later and our kitchen is stocked. I even found pistachio ice cream (more on my recent addiction to pistachio gelato to come).

Suitcases are unpacked. Laundry is done/drying.

Aw. It’s good to be home.

Crashing waves in Dubrovnik

Lots of posts to come!

(Hope you liked the photo sneak-peek!)

W.

: : :

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Update from the Mediterranean

Greetings from Kusadasi, Turkey!

I had hoped to check in a few times by now, but we’ve just been having way too much fun to bother finding a wifi connection.

We are having the best time on the ship just eating, relaxing, and waking up everyday in a new location.

Cruising certainly has its perks!

A quick recap through today:

-Our 2 days in Rome were great. We saw almost everything we wanted to see and our Scavi tour at the Vatican was incredible.

-At our first port of Naples we took an excursion through the ship to Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri. It was a long 10-hour day but the tour was well worth it. Capri is breathtaking.

-After leaving Naples we had 2 days at sea en route to Santorini. We spent the days lounging by the pool reading (me) and swimming (the hubs). The weather has been great–mid to low 60’s and sunny skies nearly the entire time.

-Yesterday the ship dropped anchor in the bay near Santorini. We took a cable car up to the town of Fira. From there we took a bus ride to the town of Oia. When you picture quintessential postcard Greece with the whitewashed houses and blue-dome churches, that is Oia. It was truly one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. My camera card is nearly full now after an afternoon spent on Santorini.

-Now we are in Kusadasi, Turkey. The main attraction nearby are the ruins at Ephesus. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan very well and we probably won’t be able to get out to the ruins. We should have booked an excursion through the ship…oh well! It’s about a 14-hour drive from Sofia, so Vince promised we would take a road trip one of these days down to Turkey and make a stop in Ephesus.

We’re off to Mykonos tomorrow.

Hope all my American family/friends/readers had a great Thanksgiving!

Talk to you all soon!

W.


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Mediterranean Bound

As you read this, Vince and I are flying 30,000 feet in the air on our way to Rome, Italy.

YAY!

We’ll be spending two nights in the city before heading to the port in Civitavecchia to board the Crown Princess for a 12 night “Greek Isles”cruise.

So far, the only thing we have firmly planned in Rome is the Vatican’s Scavi tour to the tomb of St. Peter. While we are at the Vatican, we will also check out the museums and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. We toured St. Peter’s Basilica on our last visit, but didn’t have time to see the Michelangelo’s masterpiece. There’s no way we’re missing it this time around!

We may book tickets on the 110 open bus. This hop-on, hop-off bus seems like a really convenient way to see most of the major sites in a short amount of time. Two days is definitely no where enough time to do Rome justice, but it’s all we have!

Our first stop on the cruise is Naples. We’ve been there already, so we booked a tour to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri. It’ll be one busy day!

Our Greek stops include beautiful white-washed Santorini (a new destination for us), lively Mykonos (we loved this island last time we visited), bustling Athens (we’ve been, so we may hang out on the ship this day), and historic Corfu (another new stop).

Throw in Kusadasi (we’ll be touring nearby Ephesus as we’ve already been to this iconic Turkish port), Dubrovnik (probably the stop I am most excited for as I’ve never been to Croatia), and Venice (our last visit here was a disaster, time to make it up!) and we’ve got one full 2 weeks ahead of us.

It’s been a really long time since I was able to take a long and relaxing vacation.

This one will definitely fit the bill.

I’ll likely gain 5 lbs. from all the food but I think it will be cancelled out by all the walking were bound to do.

I’ll be posting updates as wi-fi is available, so stay tuned!

Catch you all in 2 weeks!

W.

: : :

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Fall/Winter Travel Plans

I simply cannot go a day without dreaming of my next travel adventure. It’s in my blood, I tell you!

Thankfully, After months of planning, Vince and my travel plans for this fall & winter are finally starting to come together. As if living and exploring in Bulgaria isn’t enough, we have to throw some international jaunts into the mix to keep things interesting. It’s one of the many joys of living in Europe.

First up is our long-awaited honeymoon…

Mediterranean Cruise

Less than 3 weeks from now, Ventsi and I will be bound for Rome. We are flying in a few days before our departure on the Crown Princess. We’ve been to Rome before as part of our last cruise, but we only had a day in port and we were definitely rushed. This time around we plan on savoring the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Eternal City. So far the only thing we have firmly planned is the Vatican’s tour of St. Peter’s Tomb–called the Scavi tour. On this amazing tour we will be led 3 stories directly beneath St. Peter’s Basilica to the reported resting place of St. Peter. We’ll be able to see and touch (and smell!) the actual foundations for the first church built on that spot. WOW! We were insanely luck to score tickets as they limit visitors to about 150 per day. Most people book months in advance, but I emailed the Vatican for S & Gs and they had 2 openings! I’m a history geek, so this rocks my socks. We didn’t get to see the Sistine Chapel last time, so we are definitely hitting up the Vatican Museums as well. We may try to find The Mouth of Truth–Roman Holiday fans will know why I want to go there!

We’ve been to many of the ports on our cruise (only Santorini, Olympia, Corfu, and Dubrovnik are new), so we mostly plan on hoofing it around the cities taking photos and generally enjoying the everyday scenery rather than booking full blown tours. We are, however, splurging for an excursion out of Naples. We didn’t particularly care for Naples the last time we visited; it’s not the safest place in the world. So rather than stay on the ship and lose out on seeing more of amazing Italy, we sucked it up and booked an excursion through Princess. Our 10-hour tour takes us to Pompeii for a guided tour; Sorrento for lunch and free time; and finally, to the isle of Capri via hydrofoil for a few hours of sun, sand, and sea.

We are pretty darn excited to finally be celebrating not only our honeymoon but our 1st anniversary as well. 2 weeks in the Med? Perfection!

Next up, a holiday getaway…

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