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Archive for June, 2009

National Art Gallery in Sofia

National Art Gallery in Sofia

We went to the National Art Gallery and the National Museum of Natural History yesterday.  It was kind of a rainy day so that was perfect.  I have to say once again I was pleasantly surprised by what was to be found in both collections. I am beginning not to trust the Lonely Planet guide for Bulgaria.

The Lonely Planet guide says that the National Art Gallery has a small collection of short term rotating exhibits.  While this is true on the first two floors, now (or maybe once again) the gallery is displaying a wonderful collection of Bulgarian art on the third floor.  And, the gallery has an amazing collection in sheer size but also variety and craft of sculptors.    (more…)

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Missing You

Nevski in August

Nevski in August

I was walking to work today and thinking about Sofia and this year.  It’s been a really wonderful, crazy and mixed up time.  I frankly I’m not sure that I could have enjoyed it more than I did.  Well I caught a glimpse of Nevski today and realized how lucky I’ve been to live here in this city, to work at the First English Language School and to be able to walk down Shishman in the mornings and see the light on the church.

Nevski in January

Nevski in January

There’s something surprising and breath taking every time you see it.  Rain, snow or sunshine.  I realized how easy it is for me to take these things for granted especially when the uneven sidewalks or the honking traffic distracts.

Nevski in April

Nevski in April

I thought: I’m missing you.  And yes, I mean that in two ways.  First: I am missing out on seeing this beautiful thing because I am preoccupied with other things in my life–other things that seem more immediate, more important, more pressing.  And second I thought: I miss you–I am here right now, in this moment, and I miss you.  Even though I am standing only blocks away there is a piece of me already longing for you.

Nevski in June

Nevski in June

A piece of me that knows my year here is coming to and end and that I will not always be this close, that I will not always walk this way and that the next time I am here, it will not be the same.  I will not be the same.  But there’s something comforting about knowing that Alexander Nevski is there.  This place, this sight and the streets around it are as much Sofia to me as anything else.  And I find myself missing you.  I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world to miss something before you’ve gone–in fact, I think it helps you appreciate it more.

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Street Signs

I got a big kick out of these two street signs in Varna on my recent trip.  First off, this is about one of the hardest Bulgarian town names (or street names) to say and I had to practice and practice before I could get it right earlier this year.  Second, the two different transliterations into English make me laugh and laugh.  Finally, I found each sign on the same block–one at each end and that just really tickled my funny-bone.   But surprise, surprise my mom and aunt didn’t find it just as humorous as I did.

Um, where did the the "W" come from?!

Um, where did the the "W" come from?!

This sign above is the first one that caught my eye.  The “W” seems misplaced in this word.   But I do like the “STIZA” ending of the word. I think it helps with pronouncing the name but the “W”–really I don’t understand what the “W” is doing in there.

A different spelling!

A different spelling!

This sign just made me laugh because it was the second one that I saw and I thought it was much more helpful in terms of actually being able to pronounce the street name (or the city name).  I also got a huge kick out of the fact that the sings were literally a block apart from each other and so different. It kind of makes you wonder who’s in charge of signage (and spelling).

Oh and for the record, I think that if I were in charge I’d write out the name as: KOPRIVSHTITSA.

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Sozopol Pearl

Hotel: Sozopol Pearls

I know that the Black Sea often gets a bad reputation.  I think that most often people think that the place is over built–that it’s endless hotels, resort upon resort and a beach full of umbrellas and people.  But I have to say that I had a great weekend in Sozopol with my MoM and Aunt.

Sure we were there at the end of June–or just before the high season in Sozopol–but the weather was great, the people were nice and we had a great time in the sun, eating ice cream, going swimming and exploring the town.

We stayed at Sozopol Pearls.  It’s a villa style hotel slightly outside of new-town Sozopol.  The best part is that the place is nearly brand new and the staff were very kind. Oh and you have your pick of a a studio (two single beds and a wonderful pull-out couch–I should know I slept on it), an apartment (sleeps four) or a two bedroom apartment (sleeps six).  The rooms also come with a kitchenette.  So you can make breakfast and even a light lunch if you wanted in your room.

Sozopol beach view at night

Sozopol beach view at night

Two beaches are near-by which was nicer than I imagined.  I am so white that I rarely tan.  Sun burn is more my thing, so I don’t usually get too excited about going to the beach.  This said, the water was warm and there were tons of sea shells to be collected so I was in heaven.  I also got a kick out of actually being able to swim in the water.  After growing up in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington), I am used to beaches where you run in and run out all the while hoping that the water doesn’t go much above the middle of your shins.  The water in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon is cold-cold. Even in the summer.  The water in the Black Sea though–that was a different story.  It was wonderful.

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The adventure has started!

My MoM and Aunt arrived in Sofia on Tuesday afternoon.  I was so excited that the next day I promptly got the stomach flu.  Awesome.  Anyhow, I took them around Sofia Wednesday morning until it was decided that I’d be better off sleeping on the couch.  Lucky me, to have my MoM around when I was not feeling well.

I pulled it together that night to take my landlord and his family out to dinner at a great Bulgarian restaurant near my house.  We had a great time.  My MoM and Aunt don’t know a word of Bulgarian and my landlord and his wife know basics like thank-you.  So needless to say it was a hoot.  And I got to try to translate what I could. We laughed, ate a lot, exchanged some gifts and drank rakia.  All in all, it was a great meal.

On the way home, it was warm and we were walking down nicely cobble-stoned streets.  There was a little breeze in the air and my MoM said tht this is what you imagine a night should be like in Sofia. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

Yesterday, we went to museums and a few more churches and my MoM and Aunt began to have the 10 hour jet-lag time difference catch up with them.  We took naps.  I probably should have written a blog post then but oh-well.  It was a great nap.  Then we were off to the orchestra.

Today, we hit the road.  Well, we took a taxi to the train station and caught a train to Plovdiv.  After I’ve bought the tickets my mom announces that she doesn’t think she’s been on a train since I was 3 years old.  For anyone who can’t do the math–because you don’t know my age–that’s 25 years.  So that’s that.  I am officially touring my MoM and Aunt around Bulgaria via buses and trains.  I think it’s going to be a great time. (more…)

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Visitors!

I couldn’t be happier.  My mom and Aunt are coming to visit.  They’re flying today from Seattle, WA and will arrive in Sofia tomorrow!! The weather looks like it’s going to be pretty good and I’ve been a busy bee getting ready for their visit.

It’s kind of like waiting for Santa or the Easter Bunny, you know they won’t come for a day or two but still as a little kid you’re excited that they are coming.  Only this time instead of hanging up a stocking and leaving Santa cookies or putting out an Easter basket and dying Easter eggs, I am cleaning my apartment and trying to do all of those things that I mean to do but somehow never actually get around to doing.

I have a hunch I’ll be able to post more once my mom and aunt are here in Sofia seeing as I expect that they will recovering from serious jet lag.  There’s a 10 hour time difference between Sofia and Seattle.  Yeah, 10 hours.

So I’ve got to sweep, mop, take out the garbage, buy some flowers and all in all get my act together in the next 26 hours.  The funny thing is while normally I would find these things tedious, I am having a great time doing them.  I think because I know it’s in preparation for this visit!!

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Sofia is a place that never ceases to amaze me.  My mom and aunt are coming to visit next week.  They’ll be here for two weeks so I decided that I have time to really show them what Sofia and Bulgaria for that matter is all about.

As a part of their education,  I wanted to take them to see a show of some sort.  I decided that I would have a rebellion on my hands if I took them to a play in Bulgarian and as excited as I am that Michael Bolton is coming to Sofia (yeah, that’s right Michael Bolton and his “the very best of me” tour: Sofia June 30th), I figured that I’d take them to see the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra instead.

Okay maybe they would have just loved to see Michael Bolton (but I am betting against that) however you can see him anywhere (apparently) and its not every day you can see the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra (well, unless you live in Bulgaria and even then it seems like they only play one a week or so).  So today I went to buy tickets to the June 18th performance–which I bought successfully, in Bulgarian.  The program will include Sibelius and Rachmaninoff.  I don’t know them well but the space the orchestra plays in is a good one and I am looking forward to the concert nonetheless.

The wild thing is that when I went to day (only a week before the preformance) only half of the tickets had been sold.  The other crazy part was that when I went today, I was prepared to spend 20+ leva on each of the tickets.  And, the most expensive tickets were only 15 leva.  So guess what I splurged and bought those.  It’s simply incredible to me how affordable the tickets were.

So that’s that. We’re going to the orchestra and we’re going to have a great time doing it.

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