Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Bachkovo Monastery

*Linky below*

This post covers two trips to Bulgaria’s beautiful Bachkovo Monastery – the second largest monastery in the country. The first was a quick stop for Vince and I when we were on our way down to Smolyan in November – right at the height of the beautiful fall colors. The second was in December when my mom visited and we made a stop there on the way back to Sofia from Smolyan.

Like I said…doing a lot of blog post catch-up over the next few weeks!

Hope you enjoy the photos (there are a lot of them)!
Bachkovo MonasteryBachkovo MonasteryBachkovo MonasteryBachkovo Monastery
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Bulgarian Liberation Day

Bulgarian Flag

135 years ago today, Bulgaria was liberated from 500 years of Ottoman rule.

As you can imagine, March 3rd is a very meaningful day in the country and most people celebrate in some way. Later this evening in Smolyan there will be a public gathering and fireworks display. Even with continued national protests and government strife, Bulgarians are proud of their country and heritage.

It is common to see statues and memorials of liberation heroes decorated with flower wreaths and handwritten notes of thanks. Yesterday, on our way to Rudozem, we passed the Polkovnik Serafimov monument–high in the mountains above Smolyan– and it was covered in beautiful flower arrangements.

bulgaria_national_day_2013-1057007-hp

Being married to a Bulgarian has made me feel much more invested in this country and its history. Our children will be half-Bulgarian and I want them to be proud of their heritage–on both sides.

To all of my Bulgarian friends and family, Happy Liberation Day!

W.

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Честита Баба Марта! (Happy Grandma March!) | 2013

Честита Баба Марта!

(Happy Grandma March)

martenitsa2

March 1st is one of my favorite Bulgarian holidays.

Why you ask?

MARTENITSI!

Martenitsa_magnolia

These red and white bits of awesomeness make for one great month!

Read about martenitsi and the holiday here and here.

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The big move back to Smolyan is today so things will be a little quiet on GMB for a few days until we get internet.

We’re heading to Shiroka Laka tomorrow for the 2013 Pesponedelnik/Kukeri Festival, so expect lots of photos when I return!

♥W.

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…Lately…

I thought I would forgo the picture and travel madness that have consumed my blogging lately and instead update you all on the recent happenings in my little corner of the world… 

-Vince is away on a business trip to Stara Zagora. Not having him around to pester and giggle with is getting to me (and it’s only been one day!) His work said I could go with him but I’ve been there already and I figured I should stay home and get some packing and cleaning done.

-We are moving out of our apartment this week. We’re saying goodbye to Sofia and moving back to Smolyan for a bit.

-Having to give up my apartment on the whim of our landlord and real estate agency for showings is really starting to grate my nerves. I finished reading Maze Runner on my Kindle in the span of two days when I had to go out and sit in the car while our landlord showed our apt. to prospective tenants. It’s just too darn cold to sit out on a bench and read!

-I’ve managed to keep a plant alive since December! We bought this little beauty at Carrefour before Christmas and it’s still hanging in there.

My cute plant

No idea what kind of plant it is, but it’s cute!

-I found a new favorite cookie. These suckers are DE-LISH! They vaguely remind me of Paradise Bakery’s sugar cookies. Yum!

Butter cookies--Mmm!!

Butter cookies. Mmm!

-I spotted the first of the martenitsi stands last week and boy am I excited! Baba Marta is on Friday! I love this time of year in Bulgaria!

-We are hoping to attend this year’s Pesponedelnik/Kukeri festival in Shiroka Laka this weekend. We went last year and it was awesome! We’ve been invited back by the town’s mayor so we are really going to try and make it, even though we will be tired from moving and driving.

-Vince and I went out to dinner at Made in Home over the weekend. While the service was horrendous, the food was yummy and it was a fitting end to our time in Sofia as it was the first restaurant we ate at after moving to the city.

-The strikes and demonstrations continue in downtown Sofia. Bulgaria is without a government and things look like they will get worse before they get better.

-For Valentines’s Day, we went out to dinner at Pizza Niagara (some of the best pizza I’ve eaten in BG) and to a movie; Identity Thief. I needed a good comedy! Movie popcorn in Bulgaria is SO much better than in the states. I don’t quite know what it is!

-Lauren’s post on pancakes made me laugh because Vince is a pancake (crepe?) making machine–it must be a Bulgarian thing! I wake up to a delicious breakfast every weekend. He specializes in Nutella (or whatever knockoff we happen to have at the moment) and banana. They are amazing!

Rollin' up the banana and crepe (pancake?)

Ventsi: The Great Crepe Maker!

Nutella and banana crepes

Reddit. That is all.

I know I’ve been alluding to big changes for Vince and I in the very near future. I apologize for the vagueness; it will all be revealed very soon!

What have you been up to lately?!

W.

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Visiting Our Village House

Our village houseVince (and me by default, I suppose) owns a small house and quite a bit of land in the Bulgarian village of Elhovets. The house originally belonged to his dad and uncles, but he saved up some of his Alaska money and bought it from them before we met. His parents still live in the house in the summer months because they farm the land and do a lot of canning and bottling there. In fact, there is a HUGE underground cellar where we store all manner of food stuffs. It’s slightly creepy, but oh-so-efficient.Road towards Greece

It’s the most adorable cottage-y type house ever. We are really proud of it and have spent quite a lot of money over the past few years building additions and doing renovations. When all is said and done–in addition to the already-finished bathroom, kitchen, and living room–it will have 4 bedrooms and an outdoor kitchen/entertaining area. We still have a long way to go, but it’s coming along very nicely.

While my mom was visiting in December we went down to introduce her to my in-laws and spend a few nights in Smolyan. Of course we had to take a little day trip and show her our future retirement digs.

It was snowy but still accessible. I haven’t been to the house since last winter and the changes in that time are nothing short of amazing. We’ve now got a fully functioning indoor bathroom, kitchen addition, new doors, and a new staircase leading to the 2nd floor. There was a toilet before, but it was located in a building outside. No bueno.Bathroom renovation--DONE!Kitchen addition--cabinets ready to hangNew staircaseRaising the roof is a must!Mom and V.Our land

Our future plans include finishing up the kitchen, raising the height of the 2nd floor, finishing off the 3 bedrooms on that floor, redoing the balconies, replacing the exterior materials, and building an epic outdoor patio area that includes a built-in fireplace, benches, lighting…the works. The house is situated just feet from a beautiful river (with fish in it!), so this outdoor area is going to be amazing! I’m thinking a wall with cut-out candle niches and lots of fairy lights will make their way into the design somehow!

I’ve never been able to visit the house in the summer and it totally bums me out. I can only imagine how charming and pretty it is when all the flowers, trees, and grape vines are out and in bloom. I am sure the forested hillside behind the house is gorgeous as well.

One day…

Our village house

Owning property and a village/country house is common for Bulgarians. As jobs became more and more scarce in the smaller towns and villages after the fall of Communism, many people left to find work in the big cities. Now most people use their country properties as weekend and summer retreats. Between our apartment in Smolyan and house in Elhovets, Vince and I are set when it comes time to retire. That’s a pretty darn good feeling these days.

For all my Bulgarian readers, do you or your family have a village house? How often are you able to enjoy it?

I love hearing about other people’s relaxation getaways!

W.

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2012: A Year in Review

2012_blog

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. This year has been very eventful indeed and saw me moving from America to Bulgaria, confronting life (and a fair amount of culture shock) as a new expat, exploring my new home, venturing back to Denali, Alaska for a third summer working for Princess Cruises; time spent at home in Utah with friends and family, another leap across the pond to Bulgaria, and reveling in a ridiculous amount of incredible travels.

While part of me is sad to see such a jam-packed year pass, the rest of me is looking forward to the BIG changes and adventures that 2013 holds. There is already a lot in the works and Vince and I are excited for everything to come.

As I reflect back on 2012 and all that I have experienced, I wanted to share some of the highlights from this year that made their way into blog posts.

(It’s a long one guys!)

January:

February:

March:

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