Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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…Lately…

Hey all!

I’m alive! I survived an especially awful trip back to the U.S. in {mostly} one piece.

I hate airports and flying more and more each time I travel. The Delta terminal at JFK is as disgusting as ever. I had an overnight layover there and it was a long night, to say the least. Thankfully, I haven’t had much jet lag this time around – I always find it easier to adjust when returning to the states.

After a big to-do over my second suitcase with Polish Airlines at the airport in Sofia, I decided to leave ALL of my clothing in Bulgaria to avoid paying their ridiculous €150 fee. Luckily, I still had some clothes at my mom’s house, so I am not entirely desperate! Vince will be bringing my things over with him when he comes over next month.Happy to be home with my favorite little lady. #firstinstagram #cousins #rockingthesouvenirvenetianmask

It’s been a whirlwind of family and friend time (especially with my little lady), shopping, and sleeping since I got home on Friday morning. Yesterday I went to the Mummies of the World Exhibit in Salt Lake with my family and a friend. It was awesome! I love mummies!

Mummies rock! #mummiesexhibition #historynerd

My biggest time suck (and reason I have been neglecting this here blog) is my new iPhone 5! Yep. I finally took the plunge into the world of smartphones and joined the Apple masses. So far…I LOVE IT! I bought one for Vince as well and as much as he wouldn’t like to admit it, he’s excited as well. As you all probably know, I am a photography freak, so having a phone with a nice camera and access to apps like Instagram is awesome! Oh, and don’t even get me started on my growing obsession with the game Hay Day (shameless plug, if you play the game, add me as a friend: WhitneyPBG); who knew I would be into farming?! 😉

On that note, if you’d like to follow me on Instagram my name is whitneydimova.Out the window. #viewfromhere #Murray #almostspring

Hope you are all doing well! Talk to you soon!

W.

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Free Sofia Tour in Photos

When my friend K. was visiting us in January, we hoofed it up the hill at my apartment complex and hopped the Metro into the city. It was my first adventure outside the apartment without Vince and it felt really liberating. After hearing about it for a few years, I figured joining the tour was a good idea and a great way to give K. an overview of Sofia’s most well known buildings and attractions. The weather was also unseasonably warm and beautiful for January, so that was a huge bonus as well!

The Free Sofia Tour is a no-cost English-language walking tour of Sofia’s center led by volunteers. Our tour started near the lion statues at the Palace of Justice and wound through the center, past many notable and important sites, before ending at the Parliament building. Our guide (I forget his name) was really nice and knowledgeable; I learned a lot more about the city’s long, interesting, and (at times) tumultuous history.

(hover over photos for titles)
Meeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticeMeeting the Free Sofia Tour in front of Palace of JusticePalace of JusticeSveta Nedelya Church

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Tough Times in Bulgaria

I’m not sure how much attention Bulgaria’s current political climate is receiving overseas, but here in the country it’s {obviously} the most important topic of the day.

About a week and a half ago, as protests were raging over rising electricity costs, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, resigned. With him went his entire cabinet, which left Bulgaria without a functioning government. A caretaker government is in the works, but so far, nothing (and no one) has been officially announced.

Since that day–February 20th–things have only gotten more heated. Protests continue across the country and many parts of downtown Sofia are affected daily as crowds gather and march on government offices and buildings.

Yesterday, March 3rd (Bulgaria’s Liberation Day), only saw more public protests and heated debates amidst shows of national pride and remembrance of Bulgarian national hero, Vasil Levski. The majority of Sofia’s downtown was blocked by thousands of protesters shouting through megaphones, marching with banners, and waving the Bulgarian flag. In addition to rising electricity costs, the most pressing issues include austerity measures, government corruption, poverty, and a lack of civilians in governmental positions.

While there have been little reports of damage or violence, it’s still a bit of a scary situation for a foreigner (such as myself) to find themselves in. Being married to a Bulgarian and learning more each day about the true nature of how things work here and what the current political policies are like, I cannot blame the citizens of this country for finally thinking that enough is enough. Everyone has a breaking point and it seems as if that point has come for this nation. With Bulgaria listed as the poorest country in the European Union, it is clear that there are major issues that need to be dealt with.

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I am an outsider looking in. I’m just watching and reading English-language news reports as things develop. However, I do feel invested in the outcome of this tumultuous time in Bulgaria as I am connected now, not only through marriage but through a deep love for the country and its people. My heart breaks for the citizens of Bulgaria who are so greatly affected by a cost of living that in no way lines up with average salaries and pensions. Change is inevitable because the country simply cannot carry on as it has been.

For those wondering, I do not feel unsafe or unwelcome in Bulgaria, quite the contrary. People are still as gracious and welcoming as ever, even in these shaky times. Everyone is just trying to live their lives, love their families, and get through each day as best they can.

Hope. I see a lot of hope for Bulgaria’s future. If there is any silver lining to these tough times, it’s that.

I’d love to start a dialogue on this topic and see what others think–both Bulgarians and expats–so please comment below. 

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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A Visit to Vitosha

V & WCute pupSnowy creekFamily funLovely snowy sceneMoi

Vitosha is a large mountain on the outskirts of Sofia which is home to a small skiing resort, monastery, restaurants, and more. On this day (in mid-January) we were trying to reach Dragalevtsi Monastery but the roads were way too icy and snowy. There were also kids sledding down the – roads so trying to drive up them would have been crazy anyway. We decided to check the monastery out another day and just pose for some photos instead. There were people everywhere! It’s definitely a popular spot for locals on winter weekends!

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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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