Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Blog Post Catch-Up

With an entirely new lifestyle starting in just a few weeks (I’m going to try really hard not to harp on about it!), I have a short window in which to sit on my butt and catch-up on the blog posts gathering dust in my drafts folder.

So in the next few weeks, expect travel posts (remember that time I went on a Mediterranean cruise?), Sofia restaurant reviews, tales of my mom’s and friend’s visits, and other odds and ends.

Stay tuned! Lots to come!

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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The Beauty of Bulgaria | Guest Post by Ellis Shuman

My wife and I love to travel. You could say that we’ve been traveling on a life-long journey, as we were both born in the United States and have been living in Israel since we were teenagers. Europe is so close, but getting there, even from Israel, has been expensive. Like most people, we simply couldn’t afford to make all of our travel dreams come true. And then we were offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and work in Bulgaria for two years.

As Israeli ex-pats we were set up in a comfortable apartment in Sofia and immediately began our daily routine of working in the local support center of an Israeli Internet marketing company. We shopped in a nearby Piccadilly supermarket; bought flowers from a friendly lady on our cobblestone street; and smiled at our elderly doorman, even though we never fully understood what he was saying. We hired a tutor to teach us conversational Bulgarian, but because we worked with English-speaking colleagues, we failed to learn more than a few basic phrases.

And we traveled. Using Sofia as our base, we traveled at every opportunity we could. We took a train north to Vratsa; we went by bus east to Koprivshtitsa; we flew to Varna and later to Burgas on the Black Sea coast; and on many weekends we rented a car, enabling ourselves to get out into the countryside completely on our own.

We fell in love with the beautiful scenery we saw around us. The sculpted rock formations of Belogradchik; the traditional Bulgarian Revival houses of Plovdiv’s Old Town; the striking Rila Monastery; the ancient churches of Nessebar. We quickly came to appreciate Bulgarian history. We visited Shipka Pass, where Russian and Bulgarian troops were able to fight off the might of the Ottoman Empire and liberate the country in 1877-8.

Belogradchik Rocks

Belogradchik Rocks

Traditional Bulgarian architecture in Plovdiv

Traditional Bulgarian architecture in Plovdiv

Church ruins in Nessebar

Church ruins in Nessebar

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery

We were captivated by Bulgarian culture. We ate in traditional Bulgarian mehanes, enjoyed Shopka Salat; drank rakia with our meals; exchanged martenitsa on March 1st; and watched the spectacular parade during the Festival of Roses in Kazanlak. It was an amazing time, full of adventures and new experiences. We made many friends in Bulgaria, and have many good memories of our time there.

Although we are now back at our permanent home in Israel, close to our family and two young granddaughters, we often think back fondly to our Bulgarian adventures. We experienced a wonderful, beautiful country, and we will always love the beauty of Bulgaria.

Ellis Shuman and his wife, Jodie, lived in Sofia for two years 2009-2010. During that time they maintained a very active blog, Ellis and Jodie’s Bulgarian Adventures, detailing their travels. Ellis is the author of Valley of Thracians, a suspense novel set in Bulgaria.

(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Shuman).


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Rupite: A Volcano, Thermal Springs, and a Blind, Clarvoyent Baba

What a title, right?!

The final stop on our whirlwind weekend in southeastern Bulgaria the weekend before last was a visit to the small village of Rupite and the area around the extinct Kozhuh Volcano.

Rupite

To get to Rupite, we drove through the city of Petrich. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop and I regret it now. It looks like an interesting town and I hope we can make it back some day.

Rupite is  known as the home and burial place of the Bulgarian mystic/healer, Baba Vanga, as well as the site of the Kozhuh Volcano and a series of thermal springs.

After a quick drive through Rupite village to ask for directions, we made our way to the thermal springs and nearby baths. The smell of sulfur and steam rising from the springs was a little intense. The average water temperature is about 78 C (172 F); how someone could lay in near-boiling water is beyond me!

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Kordopulov House Museum | Melnik, Bulgaria

Church ruins and Kordopulov HouseVisiting the Kordopulov House Museum in Melnik was the best 4 lv Vince and I have ever spent!

I’m a sucker for historical architecture and museums in general, so Bulgarian house museums are the best of both worlds. Out of all the house museums I have been to, the Kordopulov House (built in 1754) is, by far, my favorite. The house is the largest of its kind in the country and is really a hidden gem. Alright, I am not sure about how “hidden” it is considering it’s one of the main attractions in Melnik, but I had never heard of it until reading up on the area in my LP guidebook and even then not much was said about how truly awesome it is. Kordopulov HouseEntrance to Kordopulov HouseKordopulov HouseKordopulov House Museum

For a whopping 2 lv (about $1.40) each, Vince and I were given free reign to tour the house, take photos (which I later read online other people have been charged for), explore the house’s huge wine cellar, and enjoy a wine tasting.

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