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Archive for March, 2009

There’s a lot that I like about living in Sofia.  There are somethings that I don’t love as much (like the fact that after eight months here I still trip on uneven sidewalk tiles).  But this post is about things that I still don’t really understand:

  1. Why doesn’t my neighborhood grocery store carry the same brands from week to week? And more specifically, why is it that my favorite musli can be on the shelf for three or four weeks and then it will disappear for weeks on end.  At this point, I assume that I’ll never see it again and that’s the week say two bags show up on the shelf.  Also, when this happens why don’t I buy both bags?!
  2. What are the drivers thinking who slow down at crosswalks to let me cross?! It seems to me that most drivers see me trying to cross the street and speed up.  Somehow I can’t help wondering if these well behaved drivers know the “rules” here.
  3. How can it be that I always go to the post office stand in line for at least 10 minutes and then when it’s my turn to buy stamps there’s not a single person in line behind me? I know it doesn’t seem possible but I’ve never been to the post office when I haven’t had to stand in line.  The good think about this is that it gives me plenty of time to think about what I am going to say. These women do not speak English.   (more…)
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This weekend I was told by one of my new friends and blog reader Emi (hi!) that based on my blog she didn’t think that I was into or interested in shopping.  Really?! Because I love shopping.  I love finding a deal, a bargain or something on sale.  I am always hunting for something unique, something to set me apart from the crowd.  So I was surprised to hear her say that she didn’t think I liked shopping.

I assured her that in fact I love shopping and after our coffee we walked around and popped into a couple of shoe stores and then I showed her my new favorite scarf shop.  I am not sure that the shop has a name but it’s on Graf Ignativ across from Slaveikov Square down a small little alley/walkway.  There’s a mannequin at the corner of the walk way wearing a scarf and maybe 50 feet in on the right is the shop.  (more…)

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Wow.  Spring break is right around the corner and I couldn’t be happier.  I have a Fulbrighter coming to visit me for the week and after we do some touring and shopping in Sofia we are heading to Istanbul to do some more shopping, sight seeing and eating.

The weather seems to be vacillating between spring and winter so I am sincerely hoping that the weather shapes up for my friend’s visit.  (Hey, Baba Marta: I’ve been wearing my martinetsas for three plus weeks now.  That’s got to count for something!)  Or if not in Bulgaria, I can only hope that we get beautiful weather in Turkey.  I understand that we’re heading to Istanbul right before the big tourist season starts so I guess that even if the weather isn’t perfect at least we’ll get to explore the city in the relative off season.

The funny thing is, I’ve never been on “spring break.”  I spent four years in college and then worked at a university for four more and I’ve never partied it up on a beach, backpacked through part of Europe or even spent the week hanging out with friends.  Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a woe is me kind of story.  I am just stating this because now for the first time in my life everything seems to have come together–the time, the money and the location–for me to spend part of my spring break exploring a new town with an old friend. And that seems pretty great to me. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that it’s Istanbul. (more…)

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My shoes on the street!

My shoes on the street!

I’ve seen a lot of funny things recently.  Apparently when the weather is crazy the people are just as awesome.  So this post is a quick look at the funny, unexpected, strange and wonderful things that I’ve seen when I’ve been out and about–when I’ve been hitting the streets.

Here in Bulgaria, people say the March is a woman’s month.  This is because women are moody, fickle and change their minds easily and March is apparently the same.  (Um, this doesn’t just describe women or the month of March but that’s another story.  Feminists haven’t really taken a foothold here in Bulgaria.)

March has however been full of surprises.  It’s snowed a number of different times.  Only it doesn’t stick.  It just snows enough to be annoying.  Like this morning when I woke up to snow flurries.  What? It’s March 25th and it’s snowing?! Well, it turns out that the snow just stuck to the cars and in turn made a wet mushy mess on the sidewalks.  We seem to be stuck in some limbo between winter and spring.  (Is this was Narnia was like?!) (more…)

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Berlin Part II

CAE in front of Kaiser Wihelm Memorial Church

CAE in front of Kaiser Wihelm Memorial Church

I am back in Sofia now.  I loved Berlin and had a wonderful time there.  I’ve had a lot of Bulgarians ask me: do you like Berlin or Sofia better.  That’s an impossible question.  It seems to me that the two really aren’t comparable.  Both cities are unique but they feel completely different.  Berlin it seems is a city that has been recreated both after World War II and after the wall came down.  Sofia on the other hand is a city that seems to have growing pains.  This city seems to have grown in starts and fits.  (more…)

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One of the most fun things I did in Berlin during the Fulbright Conference was to rent bikes with my two fellow Fulbrighters from Bulgaria and to ride around Berlin. There was a bike rental shop near our hotel on Alexanderplatz and we were able to rent our bikes for three hours for only 6 Euros.  The bikes were in great shape and I had so much fun riding around.  So much fun.

Me and my bike "Billy Holly"

Me and my bike "Billy Holly"

We didn’t take an organized tour but instead traced a route through the city that let us ride down Unter den Linden, past the Holocaust memorial, past the remaining chunk of the Berlin wall, through Checkpoint Charlie and in and out of a number of interesting neighborhoods.  The was ideal for us because all of us had been in and around Berlin for the previous couple of days.  It allowed us to cruse through the city on our bikes and stop when we wanted a closer look at things but we didn’t have to stop every where. (more…)

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Me in Germany!

Me in Germany!

The conference is off to a great start.  Everyone is very interesting and the tours and welcome dinner we had last night were a great way to get to know people and to see Berlin.

I am struck by the range of different people here.  There are recent college graduates, middle to late twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings and event Fulbright faculty members.  This mix seems to give a lot of energy to the events.

One of the best things so far is being able to talk to different people about their projects and their life in country.  The conference has American Fulbrighters from all over Europe.  I think that there are something like 17 different countries being represented here in Berlin.  Wow.
The conference schedule is pretty intense and right now I am paying to use the hotel internet (paying way too much I think).  But after a long walk around this morning trying a couple of different places and buying a couple of coffees I couldn’t get any of the “free” internet to work.  So now I am hopped up on caffeine, writing a quick post and soon I’ll be heading out to meet my friends who are doing touristy things while I cancel the class at Sofia University that I thought I had a friend lined up to teach… long story.

Anyhow, my students will be happy not to have class, I’ll be happy not to worry about it and to be able to enjoy the next three days in Berlin.  I’d really forgotten what a wonderful city this is.

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