Since my trip started and ended in Bulgaria, I will dedicate this first blog post to the beautiful country. I must say, I had absolutely no expectations going into Bulgaria. I know almost nothing about it, have never talked with someone who has traveled there, and know only one person from there (Yoana, Alexa's former roommate and the person we went to visit!). Since Yoana was nice enough to host and show us around the entire time we were in Bulgaria, Alexa and I didn't have to plan anything for this part of the trip. As nice as it was, it was very strange going into a trip knowing almost nothing about the country and having no idea where you will go and what you will do for the next few days, but it was exciting at the same time!
|Alexander Nevsky Cathedral|
Day 2 in Bulgaria started with a delicious pastry called banitsa. It's a flakey breakfast pastry that had various fillings. I tried goat cheese and Alexa tried potato and herbs. They were both absolutely delicious! Then, Yoana took us around Sofia again so we could see all of the famous sights again in the daylight. Also, since it was daytime we could enter the Alexander Nevsky church to see it on the inside. The first thing I noticed is that there were no pews. Alexa is Greek Orthodox and Yoana Bulgarian Orthodox so they helped educate me on all the differences between Orthodox and Catholicism. During their services, the orthodox communities stand up the whole time, there are a few chairs on the side of the church for the disabled and elderly. Also, the altar is not raised nearly as high as in catholic churches, and although the church is decorated beautiful and ornately, it's not as over-the-top as most catholic cathedrals. Later in the afternoon we met Ivaylo and Valentin for lunch. We had another amazing lunch for an amazing price. Yoana tried to talk us into trying "ayran" with is a beverage composed of yogurt and water and is sometimes salted. Bulgarians LOVE it. It looked like they were drinking thick, whole milk and then to think it was SALTED! As adventurous of an eater I am, I couldn't stomach the though of drinking it. Alexa either, so we politely declined. Later on we went to a cafe to try some amazing gelato, and then we called it an early night. It was raining, so Alexa, Yoana and I enjoyed a movie and pizza night in the apartment.
|view of the sunset from one of Plovdiv's 7 hills|
The last day we woke up packed up for good. Yoana's mom spoiled us with homemade banitsa (amazing) for breakfast. After, we said goodbye and thanked Yoana's family for their over-the-top hospitality and hopped on a bus back to Sofia. Later, we got a taxi to the airport and said goodbye to Yoana. It was an amazing trip. Although Bulgaria could use a little fixing up, I'd still recommend visiting it. The people are kind
, the food and wine is great and there is so much history and gorgeous scenery to be discovered. Go to Bulgaria, and you won't regret it :)