Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


Spring in Salt Lake

Happy to be back amongst these gorgeous mountains! #saltlake #utah #rockies #mountainloverUtah weather is fickle. It can be sunny and beautiful one day and then snowy any gray the next. I’ve lived in Salt Lake City (err… a suburb of the city, anyway) all my life, but I am still not used to sudden weather changes.

#supposedtobespring #utahweatherTrees in my brother's backyard. #trees #sky #isthisspring?

When I got back to SLC about a week and a half ago, the weather was gorgeous. The first day of spring brought rain and snow. After such a mild winter in Bulgaria this year, I was actually a little glad to get to experience some real Utah snow. Even with the cold snap, spring is still making an appearance.
#beautiful #spring #flowersEven with the recent snowfall, Spring is still making a show! #utah #saltlake #springflowersDespite the cold, Spring is making an appearance!While the weather is sure to warm up quickly here, I can’t say the same for Alaska – where I am headed this weekend.

Over the weekend, Trapper Creek (my new home!) got over 3 feet of snow. With winter weather advisories still in place for parts of the state, it looks like Spring is still a glimmer in the distance for the 49th state!

I’m a little stressed because my winter boots and wool coat are in Bulgaria. It looks like I will have to make do with whatever I can scrounge up at my mom’s house for a few weeks!

How is Spring doing where you are? 


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Utah Winters

If you are new around these parts you may not know that I am from Utah, which boasts “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” The winters in the Beehive state range from “Snow-pocalypse” type affairs with so much snow (I remember a storm where when I was in Elementary where we got close to 5 feet in a day) that schools and businesses shut down and there are mass power outages, to more mild winters that result in drought conditions in the spring and summer (like what happened last year).

But in winters like the one the state is experiencing this year, it’s sometimes hard to believe that Utah is a desert. It makes for great skiing at the many ski resorts but not-so-great times for commuters.

My cousin just posted on her blog about the recent freezing rain that Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas have been experiencing. Here’s a video that was taken on the BYU campus yesterday morning:

That’s just crazy right there. I am extremely uncoordinated, so I KNOW I would be the girl face planting into the asphalt and being taken away by paramedics. I am not steady on slick surfaces whatsoever!

It’s in times like these – where I am hearing crazy stories from family and friends back home about Utah’s winter conditions – that I am so thankful to be here in overcast and chilly (but not snowy) Sofia. Winter here in the capital hasn’t packed much of a punch; at least so far. We’ve had a few snow flurries, but they seem to melt pretty quickly. It has rained a bit the past few days, but Tuesday was downright balmy and people were out in the city in full force enjoying the sunshine and warmer temps. Here’s a video I shot that day during the Free Sofia Tour (post to come) that shows how lovely the weather was:

I absolutely hate driving in snowy and icy conditions, so I am really glad to be here in Bulgaria (w/ my husband as chauffeur) rather than driving up icy hills everyday like I would be if I were still in SLC and working at the University of Utah. I think those years of my life have shortened my overall lifespan. *shudder*

So, to all my friends and family back in Utah…keep your head up! Spring will be here soon enough!


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My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

(Another LONG AS HELL post in which I ramble about flights and why I now hate flying so much!)

Yesterday will long reign as one of the most awful and trying days of my life.

I’ve often counted myself lucky that I have never had any major catastrophes while traveling. Rarely a delayed flight let alone missing one.

Well, that all ended yesterday.

Things started off swimmingly in Salt Lake City. I got through security in record time, caught my flight, slept the whole way. I had just enough time to walk through O’Hare to catch my flight to London. Luckily, we got out before flights started to be delayed due to the weather.

Again, this flight went fine. I got a window seat (which I was worried about) and the leap over the pond went really quickly. As much as I loved the sweet British flight crew there were a few things that I did not like about British Airways: they did not offer in-flight entertainment like Delta–touch screen TV monitor with movie/TV/ game choices), rather they had channels each showing a movie with no way to start over; and they served curry for dinner (ick). All in all, though, everything went great.

Until we landed at Heathrow, that is.

I know I’ve been to Heathrow before (on my way to India), but I must have forgotten what a madhouse it is. After landing we sat on the runway for over an hour and a half. We weren’t even at a gate, instead we were out in the middle of nowhere and we had to walk down a flight of steps to catch buses to the terminal. After sitting for so long, I knew making my connection to Sofia was unlikely.

We finally got back to the terminal and I got into line for security. My two carry-ons (which went through with NO troubles in SLC) were flagged and had to be hand inspected by the less than time conscious security staff. The worker took every.single.thing out of both of my bags and meticulously swabbed his bomb-detecting wipes over every square inch. Now, if you know me (and I think you do by now) you know that I do not pack light. Not even close. I had those bags packed like a puzzle. Everything was snug and, dare I say, perfect. Not so much after someone carelessly takes everything out and goes through ever nook and cranny.

Still hoping to make my connection, I hurriedly threw everything back into the bags after being ruled out as a terrorist hell bent on destroying the world. Frantically scanning the departures screen, I knew I was in trouble. Sofia was nowhere to be seen. I asked an employee and she said if it was off the board the plane was gone. I tried to keep it together while I wandered around the 8 million duty free shops looking for British Airways customer service.

I finally found it and tried to be civil to the guy helping me. I’ve worked in hard customer service jobs; it’s not easy being yelled at all day. He said I had two options: 1) wait for about 6 hours in Heathrow and take the next direct flight to Sofia which would get me into the city around 10pm, or 2) catch a connecting flight to Bucharest then a flight to Sofia from there, which would get me into the city at 6:30p. I have zero patience so I rashly went with option 2.

BIG MISTAKE as it turns out.

The customer service agent assured me that I would not have to go back through security to catch the flight to Bucharest and that I had plenty of time to make the flight. I quickly shot off an email to Vince telling him that I missed my original flight and not to go to the airport to pick me up until later.

A train ride and lots of walking later, I made it to the terminal for the flight to Bucharest; a huge security line staring me in the face. I tried to talk to the employee standing at the front of the line to explain that I had just gone through security and had both my bags hand searched, but he said I had to do it again (curse the BA agent that said I didn’t have to!). With no other choice I got into line and prayed that I would get through with no problems.

I must have been asking for far too much.

Both bags were hand searched AGAIN. I lost it this time (as boarding for my flight to Bucharest was already closing) and burst into tears. The older British woman going through my bags immediately turned into the grandmotherly type and tried to calm me down. She went through everything pretty quickly and after telling me that candles will alert security staff every time (I brough quite a few for our apt. as well as for gifts) she said that  if I hurried I might catch my connection.

I ran as fast as 70. lbs of luggage would allow me and barely squeaked onto the bus out to the plane with seconds to spare. I have a sneaking hunch the nice lady in security called ahead to tell them I was coming, but who knows.

3 hours later we were touching down in Romania. Right when I got off the plane I asked the BA gate agent where I should go and where my luggage was. She said that my bags would meet me in Sofia and directed me to the correct gate.

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2012 Fall Firsts

Sunday night family dinners are pretty important to my family. It’s especially nice for me when we get together because I am so rarely in Utah these days. My grandmother passed away at the end of July , so our dinners are definitely not the same anymore, but I enjoy them nonetheless.

Tonight we had a casual dinner out to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. After dinner we headed back to my grandpa’s house to have some pie and just spend some time together.

We (well, my cousin, M. to be specific) took this opportunity to carve our first pumpkin of the season. The second the top was removed and the seeds and ‘guts’ we pulled out, I knew it was officially fall. That smell is irresistible!

For my cousin’s birthday party next weekend we are carving pumpkins as well. I bought a knife kit from Target a few shopping trips ago (ah, there have been so many since being home), so I’m all set to get my carvin’ on!

I’m not generally a pie person, but I did have a bite of pumpkin pie tonight and it was delicious.

All in all it was a fun night with the fam. I only have a few more weeks left to spend time with everyone and top enjoy autumn in Salt Lake City.

Autumn in Sofia awaits my arrival!


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Field Trip to Tracy Aviary

I’ve been back in Utah for just over 2 weeks now and so far it’s been a fairly productive visit. First the zoo and now the aviary; I’m on an animal kick, apparently! Now I just have to hit up the aquarium to round the visit out!

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Tracy Aviary

Earlier this week I helped chaperone a field trip to Tracy Aviary for my cousin, A., who is in the 1st grade. Luckily, I only had 3 kids with me and there was another parent in our group, so definitely manageable!

Riding on the school bus with all the excited kiddies sure took me back to my elementary field trip days.

I haven’t been to the aviary in years (I was probably a 1st grader myself), so it was pretty much an all new experience for me!

Swan? Duck? I don't remember!

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An Afternoon at the Zoo

Utah's Hogle Zoo

On Sunday, my 6-year-old cousin, A,, and I headed to Hogle Zoo, located in Salt Lake City.

I haven’t been to the zoo since last year, so the changes were a bit of a shock.

The iconic mini-train ride of my childhood is no more. In its place is a mass of fencing, mounds of dirt, and signs for the upcoming ‘African Savanna’ opening in 2014. I’m glad we’re getting the African cats back (they’ve been gone for a few years now as the zoo is doing its exhibits by geographic region rather than just a mix of everything), but I’m going to miss the random assortment of animals visible from the train ride: buffalo, sheep, etc.

**Update! After scoping out the zoo’s website, I am happy to report that the train will reopen in 2014 and feature a longer ride around the new African Savanna exhibit! We’re talkin’ free-roamin’ giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. Nice!**

Baby Zuri
Baby Zuri


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Scavenger Hunt Sunday: Back in Utah

This week’s SHH features some of my recent stateside adventures and activities.

Hope you enjoy!


1) New

Fresh, new ski and snowboard tracks up Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon–near Snowbird Ski Resort


2) Life

Farm life at Utah’s Wheeler Farm


3) Fragrant

As much as I enjoy seeing cute farmyard animals, standing downwind from their pens is not the most pleasant thing in the world. Pee-ew!

4) Pink

Okay, so there’s more than just pink in this one, but pink seemed to be the overriding theme as I was decorating eggs with my 6-year-old cousin.


5) Obvious

“Obvious” actually turned out to be a tough one for me this week. Then I saw this sign…


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Happy Easter!