Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Shiroka Laka, We Finally Made It!

After two previous attempts, today we finally made it out of Smolyan to the nearby village of Shiroka Laka (22 km away).

The weather was great and the drive–along a narrow, forested road– was even more beautiful than I remembered.

I don’t really know why I like little Shiroka Laka so much–perhaps it’s the authentic Rhodopean houses, tiny churches, or Ottoman era bridges.

Even in the dead of winter, the village is completely charming.

As much as it sometimes hinders our travel plans, winter in the Rhodopes is a beautiful time of year. All the little villages seem even more quaint and magical.

We are planning another visit to the village in early March for Pesponedelnik–one of the most well-known and visited kukeri festivals in Bulgaria.

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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.

W.


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More Rambling

Oh dear. It’s only been 2 days without proper internet and already I am having major blog withdrawals!

This signal I am *ahem* “borrowing” is awful. How rude of them (whoever they are!).  😉

On a positive note, because we weren’t plastered to our laptop screens today, Vince and I decided to take a drive to my favorite little nearby village–Shiroka Laka.

We knew going out that the roads weren’t in the best shape with the snow fall we have gotten the past few days, but we are optimistic little fools and thought it would be alright.

Well, we got about 10 minutes from the house and were about to head up the road towards the village when the police stopped us and suggested we turn around (suggested as in stood in front of our car). They said that even with chains cars were turning around and heading back to Smolyan.

I was bummed but I also didn’t want to risk dying on the side of some snowy Bulgarian road, so we decided to go grocery shopping instead.

We picked up a bunch of staples: flour, sugar, rice, lentils, laundry soap, etc. But I also threw some junk food in the cart: paprika chips (so yummy!), a swiss roll cake, and the some of the best ice cream I have ever had.

After the big supermarket we hit up a few different butchers for some meat and fish. Needless to say, our fridge/freezer and pantry are now well stocked.

My MIL does all the cooking, so I feel like it is only fair that Vince and I buy the bulk of the groceries.

As an American used to pretty high food prices (relative to the prices here), I was amazed at everything we were able to get for under 60 USD. That being said, it is not lost on me that a large majority of Bulgarians struggle to feed their families each week on the small monthly wages here. It’s truly sad.

Anywho, I didn’t come here to bum everyone out. I just wanted to post a quick update because.. well… like I said, I am having blog withdrawals and if I’m not able to post photos and tales of my adventures, I figured I would just bore everyone with my rambling.

Did I succeed? 🙂

Oh, did I also mention that I played mahjong on my computer for the better part of the afternoon and only won 3 games? At least my brain got a workout!

Hoping we get our internet fixed on Monday. If we don’t, I am seriously considering trekking down to main street to use the wifi in a cafe. My Google Reader is positively bursting at the seams!

W.


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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

Brrrr!

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!

W.