bulgaria: plovdiv

June 28, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Posted in adventures, bulgaria | Leave a comment

by sandra.

yesterday frank and i caught the train from belovo to plovdiv.  when we arrived we walked from the train station to the center, or main street.  this street doesn’t allow cars and has restuarants and shops lining it.  we were starving and frank was wanting some american food so we decided to eat at mc donald’s.  now you may think that mc donald’s is the same anywhere in the world, but that is not true.  in bulgaria people do not stand in straight lines like they do in america.  rather, they stand in a bunch somewhat lined up towards the different cashiers.  it is not very clear who is in which line so you can easily lose your spot if you don’t pay attention and continuously elbow your way towards the front.  when we got to the cashier frank nervously ordered our two meals.  expecting this to be a pretty simple process, we were both surprised when the cashier asked us about 10 questions before finalizing our meal.  i think the funniest part was when the cashier repeated our order back to us (to verify that it was correct) and frank turned to me and said, “i have no idea what we’ll receive.”  we were successful though, and received exactly what we wanted.  hooray!  unfortunately, however, they did not have any ketchup for our fries and we had to use barbeque sauce instead.

the center: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617888673/in/photostream/

next we walked a bit further to see a roman stadium.  the stadium was uncovered when they were building there, so part of it is exposed and the rest is built around.  it was neat to see for i hadn’t seen anything like it before.  it was also a bit strange for there was an internet club with one of the best views of it. 

roman stadium: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2618713616/in/photostream/

view of stadium from frank’s computer at the internet club: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617892167/in/photostream/

after checking our email (only 70 cents per hour!) Frank and I sweated up the hill to see a roman ampitheater and “old town.”  like the stadium the ampitheater was uncovered when they were building, but has been restored better than the stadium.  the ampitheater is still used for concerts, plays and other events, as you can tell from the props and cushions in the photo.  the ampitheater seats 5000 to 7000 people and has the original steep, skinny, and worn down steps.

the roman ampitheater: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617894565/in/photostream/

ampitheater steps (notice the worn down part in the middle): http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617896927/in/photostream/

old town plovdiv: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2618721266/

while in old town frank and i stepped into a bed and breakfast to check their prices in case we decide to stay overnight in plovdiv later.  outside frank had heard some bulgarians talking about how they charged 30 euros per night and then we watched the clerk charge some other bulgarians the same.  when we asked how much it would be for us, the clerk told frank that it would cost 40 euros.  he asked her if we had to pay more because we were foreigners and so she cussed us out in bulgarian!

as we walked back towards the center and the train station frank and i were caught in a HUGE thunderstorm complete with lightning.  although the rain was a welcome sight the lightning frightened us a bit.  it started raining really hard too and luckily a nice bulgarian woman took pity on us and let us stand inside her shop until it died down.

back at the center frank and i stopped in at a cafe for a bite to eat.  the menu items were written in bulgarian and english, but featured some strange translations.  for instance, chicken breast (we think) was called “chicken foremeat” and there was another item called “fried caca.”  we later found out from our host family that this is like fried sardines. who knew?

on our walk back to the train station i bought some gelato.  i thought the gelato was just cookie and bailey’s flavoured, but as i ate it discovered that it actually had bailey’s in it.  the train ride was even more relaxing than usual!

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same and different – america and bulgaria

June 27, 2008 at 10:06 am | Posted in adventures, bulgaria | Leave a comment

by sandra.

things that are the same about america and bulgaria –

-bulgaria also has kfc, mc donald’s and pizza hut.

-mc donald’s icecream tastes the same and i’m lovin’ it.

-you can watch mtv, vh1, hallmark, discovery, national geographic, soccer, and tennis on tv. also full house, star trek, stargate, and grey’s anatomy.

-you hear american music (although most is from the early 90’s) and can watch american music videos.

-we both have owls, red tail hawks, storks, pigeons, doves, dogs, cats, swallows, and deer.

things that are different about america and bulgaria –

-people park on the sidewalk here.

-matching your clothes is not important.

-many women wear see through shirts.

-most restuarants have outdoor seating (one of our favorite things).

-in bulgaria you put your used toilet paper in the garbage can instead of in the toilet.

-in bulgaria they REALLY like avril lavigne.  they played 10 of her music videos in a row on tv and her picture was on my icecream packaging.

-in bulgaria you eat shopska salata with every meal.

-in bulgaria meals usually last a couple hours.

-in bulgaria you can drink outside or on the train. people smoke everywhere.

-in bulgaria it’s actually summer here.

-many people in bulgaria live in the same town their whole life.

-in bulgaria, you can buy pink, yellow, blue, brown and white toilet paper.

-the sidewalks in bulgaria are walking hazards!  many have holes and uneven pavement.

bulgaria: sofia, belovo and plovdiv

June 27, 2008 at 10:02 am | Posted in adventures, bulgaria | 2 Comments

by sandra.

frank drinking bulgarian beer (they’re bigger and cheaper here): http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617837807/in/photostream/

frank and i have been in bulgaria for a few days now.  we began our trip in sofia, the capital of bulgaria.  it looks a lot like a small city in mexico.  there we visited the alexander nefski cathedral, a beautiful church whose walls and ceiling are covering with amazing paintings.  its crypt is home to a icon museum, some of which come from the 17th century.  we spent the rest of our time there (two days, one night) exploring the city, sweating in the sun, and resting at our hostel. 

alexander nefski cathedral: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617835867/in/photostream/

our hostel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617839261/in/photostream/

momma cat nursing her 3 kittens in the lot outside our hostel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617841951/in/photostream/

it is a MUCH slower pace here than london (or portland).  most days in belovo we have slept in and spent the day exploring belovo and sitting around the table talking and eating with his host family.  i have really been impressed with how well we are able to communicate with stoyan, nati and maltina considering they speak very little english and frank speaks only conversational-level bulgarian.  with frank acting as translator, along with the dictionary, mime, and sign language, we have been able to talk about politics, philosophy, pedagogy, history, family, and religion.  there’s no way i could survive here without frank, but my bulgarian vocabulary continues to grow everyday.  before we came to bulgaria, i knew how to order something, and words for thank you, bread, beer, wine, coffee, tea, salad, the bathroom, yes, no, goodnight, good day and…not much else.  now i can say excuse me, please, i understand, i don’t understand, salt, little, fantastic, cat, dog, chicken, good, ticket, remodel, cheers, mother, sister, brother, skinny, perfect, poor and oops.

our host “mom” making shopska salata: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617843887/in/photostream/

our host “dad”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2618672810/

Belovo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2618669216/in/photostream/

statue of Chapai at the overlook in Belovo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2617847985/in/photostream/ 

today we are visiting plovdiv, a city which hosts a walking avenue with shops and restuarants, and roman ruins.  we are looking forward to exploring somewhere new.  this weekend we will travel to the village with his host family and have a picnic.  then we will head to the coast for some hiking, swimming, and sunbathing.  our “honeymoon” will finally begin!

london: the next 3 days

June 26, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in adventures, london | Leave a comment

by sandra.

after moving to a new hotel (which was somewhat larger and featured strange pictures on the wall), frank and i took the tube to the tower hill stop.  we spent most of the day exploring the tower of london, which has served as a palace, residence, and jail throughout london’s history.  the highlights were seeing the infamous ravens (which are quite large and quick), going on a beefeater tour, and seeing the graffiti of past inhabitants of the jail.

creepy photo which hung over our bed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612089291/in/photostream/

two of the ravens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612928150/

the next day we visited the natural history museum which features a cutting of one of the large sequioas at sequioa national park.  frank was excited to see this cutting because he has given tours on its stump and has seen the other cutting at a museum in new york.  unfortunately the remainder of the museum was not that great and can hardly be remembered because we were so hot and sweaty most of the time.

the sequoia cutting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612920134/in/photostream/

later that night we met up with a bulgarian friend of frank’s, takvor.  takvor and his wife had helped frank manuever the trains to sofia when frank was very sick and new to bulgaria.  they had hung out many times when frank lived in bulgaria.  takvor lives in bristol now (near the west coast of england) and luckily just happened to be in london that saturday.  takvor had brought another bulgarian with him, a nice guy who had only been in england for 2 weeks.  thus, his english was a bit shaky and he spent most of the night just sitting quietly and smiling (much like i have been doing in bulgaria).  we were later joined by 2 more bulgarians and a londoner, and then later 2 more bulgarians.  we had a lot of fun with those guys drinking at a pub, then driving erratically through london, and then hanging out at a underground bar in some unknown (to us) part of london, apparently called “shepard’s bush.”   it was a nice preview of the friendly and welcoming nature of bulgarians for me.

london is VERY humid and thus my hair is VERY frizzy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612921490/in/photostream/

me, takvor (in the red shirt), the londoner (blonde hair), the bulgarians: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612924466/in/photostream/

we spent most of sunday at the british museum, a museum that puts any other history museum to shame.  it’s enormous and features artifacts from metsopotamia, ancient greece and rome, egypt, assyria, and i’m probably leaving out a few cultures.  we especially enjoyed seeing the rosetta stone, mosaics, and mummies.  our favorite room is called the enlightenment room — it looks like the museum did when it first opened in the 1790’s (i think) and features wooden bookcases lining the walls and artifacts categorized just how they would have been at that time.  beautiful!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdsinlove/2612092625/in/photostream/

my husband, the american.

June 23, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Posted in adventures, london | 3 Comments

by sandra.

this being our first trip together, it has been fun for frank and i to observe one another’s reactions to a new country. today he laughed as i looked open-mouthed out the window as our taxi drove us to our hostel in sofia. previously, though, i got to giggle as his exclamations nearly shouted as we explored london.

a few examples –

-oh my gosh, we’re in london!

-i can’t believe we paid seven dollars for rice!

-those guys are speaking british over there!

-i can’t believe we just paid seven dollars for a beer!

-oh my gosh, we’re driving on the wrong side of the road!

-do i look like an american

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