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Archive for April, 2009

MIA

Hey Friends and Family, don’t worry about me, I am going to be MIA for the next two weeks or so traveling around the country side.  I’ll check in if and when I can.  Sorry to leave you hanging but I am not taking my laptop–only a small backpack.  I am sure that I’ll have some great stories upon my return so stay tuned!!

Anyhow, I hope that spring (or something like it) has found each of you!! It’s sure found me here in Sofia and now I can’t get enough of it.

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Graffiti Removal

Hard and dirty work

Hard and dirty work

Look at what I saw recently.  This poor guy is water blasting (I just make this term up) graffiti of the wall of a subway (pedestrian underpass).

He’d clearly been working on the removal for a long time when I saw him.  There was lots of standing water and the stairs were on the slippery side.  The water was bouncing back in his face.  Uck. Dirty, paint-y, high-pressured water bouncing back in your face and all over you.

The single thought that entered my mind was this: poor guy, I am glad that isn’t my job.

What’s amazing is that now there’s not a sign of the graffiti on the wall.  In a city where graffiti seems to be a fixture of the urban landscape and few people seem interested in cleaning up after themselves–there is graffiti removal taking place.

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Happy Day!

Me happy in the Land of the Roses

Me happy in the Land of the Roses

I am thrilled to announce that my MoM and my Aunt will be coming to visit me at the end of June for a visit!  I didn’t think that it would work out given the state of the economy and a few other factors but I was (happily) wrong.  And talk of their visit has had me distracted all week.

I was determined not to get too excited about their travel inquires until they had purchased tickets and I woke up this morning, checked my email and there it was: email confirmation! So now it’s official.

This means that I get to start planning their visit and our adventures in Bulgaria.  I couldn’t be happier!!

Oh and in case you need a point of comparision (or reference), I am at least as happy right now as I am in this picture having a coffee outside of the Shipka Church near Kazanlak and I was pretty happy that day.

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Last night my friend I. invited me to a costume party at Sofia University.  I went and had a great time: costumes, dancing, wine–it’s a pretty good mix anyway you look at.  The thing is, I am horrible at putting a costume together in the States with a range of clothing in my closet so here in Bulgaria I was at a loss for what to wear (oh and I got invited to go about an hour before the event).  In a pinch, I put on a cardigan, donned my glasses, put my hair up and ta-da… Sarah Palin. I fully realize how lame that was that I agreed to go to a costume party and then took the easy way out.

Anyhow after a couple of hours at the costume party watching lots of girls and a few guys dance the hora we decided to move on to another bar.  And it was karaoke night at the bar.  Yes, karaoke night and for some reason we decided to stay. I think it’s because there’s something so wonderfully painful about watching and listening to other people sing off-beat and out of tune and knowing nonetheless that they are having a great time.

Karakoe though is not really my thing.  I’ve sung a few times with groups of friends but I have no desire to get up there and belt out a song.  I could probably do it but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be having fun.  I’d much rather watch, judge and sing along from my seat.  But, I’ll flip through the song book–who knows maybe this will be the night I see a song and am inspired to sing. (more…)

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Loved it.  The Sofia City Art Gallery has three great exhibitions up right now (and one of the best museum/gallery websites in Bulgaria I’ve seen).  The thing is I think that the exhibitions I saw today are all closing soon (April 26th).  So go this weekend or you’ll be sad that you missed it.   Oh and no excuses: the gallery is free and I don’t that it’s ever very crowded.  Today there were maybe five other people there–more or less I had the gallery to myself.

What’s there to see? First there’s “From Yesterday Till Tomorrow: Monuments to Sofia” this is a collection of paintings and mixed media pieces that portray the city and people of Sofia.  I was surprised to find myself thinking: I walk by these things every day but I’ve never seen X in this light before.  The pieces were beautiful and evocative and span the greater part of the 20th century. At the end,  I thought: this is such a treasure and shows a Sofia, a range of talent and an eye for display that I haven’t seen much of in museums and galleries in Bulgaria.  It’s truly a shame that this is not a more permanent exhibit. (more…)

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Traffic Troubles

Traffic Troubles

It’s your lucky day.  This is the second piece in a regular segment for my blog: How-to-Tuesdays.  Here I will give you a run down on how to do something new–related to my life in and around Bulgaria. Check out last week’s how to which is a great recipe for roasting egg plant in the Turkish style.

I grew up in a small town where the traffic was busy for about 5 minutes during rush hour (if you can even it call it rush hour).  My mom taught me a song about crossing the street “Stop, look and listen before you cross the street.  Use your eyes, use your ears before you use your feet!” And these lessons learned early on have served me well.

Even in Washington DC where we definitely had rush hour and there was always traffic on the street, a girl could rely on the cross walk, traffic signals and the pedestrian right of way.  I lived in the city more or less unscathed for 5 years.  It’s probably important at this point to note that I didn’t own a car and walked or took public transportation every where.

Upon arriving in Sofia, I was terrified to take to bus, tram or trolleybus but I quickly learned the ropes.  The thing that I wasn’t expecting was how difficult it is to be a pedestrian in this city.

Right of way as a pedestrian? Nope.  That’s a laughable idea.  Relying on the street signals to safely cross the street? Also, not a good idea.  Stand on the sidewalk hoping for a break in traffic? I guess that this is okay, if you’ve got 20+ extra minutes to kill.  (more…)

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Happy Easter: Vesele Velikden

Happy Easter: Vesele Velikden

On Saturday night, I stayed up late and then about 11:30pm I made my way to the Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church (on Graf Ignatiev).  I bought a candle from a man selling them on the street and began to get excited about the holiday.  The service starts at 12 midnight but even by 11:30pm there was a crowd starting to gather.  Many of the people there were sitting on benches sharing beer, talking and smoking.

Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church at Easter

Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church at Easter

By 11:45 a line was forming to walk into the church in order to pray and a throng of people were milling around outside of the church–young boys stood together in groups, couples huddled next to each other and families held on the hands of small children.  Also about this time, people started lighting their candles.  A little before midnight the church bells started to ring and the priest started to sing.  This was broadcast outside of the church on speakers.

Mostly people were still and listened but by no means were people silent.  As an outsider, it was interesting to watch this group of people participating in what is clearly a religious and cultural event.  After the priest got to the part of the service where he says: Christ is Risen and the people replied: He has Risen Indeed, the group outside of the church started to break up.  Some people began to walk home, others got out hard boiled eggs to test the luck and strength of their shells and others continued to stand outside of the church. (more…)

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