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First Day in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is full of hidden treasures. In France, you expect to see Versailles and the louvre. In Italy you expect to see The David, Notre Dame and remnants of of Ancient Rome – you go for those reasons. But you don’t go to Bulgaria to see anything grand. (I mean, who even goes to Bulgaria?) And yet on nearly every street or corner there is something incredible. We’re in Plovdiv right now, staying in what they call “Old Town” at a quaint bed and breakfast. Right down the cobbly road from us is a small cafe which sits, almost indifferently, on the rim of a huge ancient Greek theater! (Wes can’t remember if it’s Greek or Roman which). I had no idea that Bulgaria was the old Phillopoli talked about in ancient times. There are several “pits” in the middle of streets that you look by as you’re walking and you see these incredible ancient ruins. It’s totally understated – not like in Rome at all.

There are statues all over Plovdiv, and, according to Wes, we haven’t seen anything yet. They are everywhere. On the way here yesterday, after 24 hours (not including the time change) of travelling we drove around Plovdiv – lost – for 2 1/2 hours trying to find where we were staying, (and yes, it took 2 hours to finally convince Wes we should ask for directions) so I had a great chance to see all the statues and monuments around the city. There are tons of them, and they’re all really cool. I’m not sure what they all mean, but I’m pretty sure they were mostly put up during Communism. We hiked up to a big tall soldier on top of a huge hill today. It was touting the glory of Communism and of Russia. On the sides were pictures of citizens and soldiers all greeting each other in brotherly love. Ahh the sentimental Communistic brain washing… In Russia, when revolutionists fought revolutionists to abolish Communism, their passion drove them to destroy statues and deface buildings. But its like Bulgaria isn’t quite sure yet that they’re ready to let go of it all. I mean, I think it was only in the 80’s that they even abolished Communism, right? So they really took to it. Wes says the old “Babas” still talk of the old days when everybody had a job and the state was better off.

Anway, enough reflecting – it’s not like I understand this place so I shouldn’t hypothesize like I do. I just like it here. Plovdiv is beautiful. I expected something much worse – so I have been happily impressed so far. (We haven’t seen any gypsies though, which kind of disappoints me. Wes is quite beside himself about it – he kept muttering to himself today on the street “where are they? why aren’t they out here pestering everybody? did the Bulgars kill them all?” I think maybe they all got jobs or something. Wes laughs at that.) Our B&B is really nice – we’ll attach pictures when we can. We had an amazing dinner last night at a Russian (really ritzy) restaurant in Old Town last night. I kept gushing over the food and of course the waiter couldn’t understand a thing I said. Wes almost fell asleep in his shopska last night – he was so tired. The poor boy has all the burden of speaking for both of us, translating everything everybody is saying to me, guiding us around, etc. He’s been amazing and I love hearing him speak Bulgarian. He sounds so Bulgar.

Today we got up and walked around the city center. But I’m sure Wes’s blog talks about this, so let me just tell you about the things I care about = Food and Clothing:

Food:
I had the best cornnuts ever here! And gelato, which was a delightful surprise. And then later we had an early dinner and Wes had Shopksa again and I tried a different salad, but it was terrible. I’m pretty sure they washed it in the river because there were little rocks in it. Not kidding. But the margherita pizza was really good. And the candy has been impressive.

Clothing:
All the girls are into clothes. I have seen a lot of girls wearing tight shorts over nylons with boots. That was a new one for me. And they all wear these nylons or leotards under their shirts. I thought it was to be modest so they don’t show their waists. But Wes is convinced that modesty is not a word in a Bulgarki’s (Bulgarian woman) lexicon. He says they do this to hide their dark back hair. Ew! Anyway – they are very well dressed for the most part. And dress for show. All the young guys sit on the corners of bars looking like members of the mafia and openly check and remark on all the Bulgarki as they saunter past. It’s quite amusing.

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