So I’ve been in Bulgaria for just about 24 hours, and several things have jumped out at me right away.
1. The people here are awesome. I’ve already had very pleasant conversations with my taxi driver, the hotel concierge, the check-out lady at a small grocery store, and waitresses at a local restaurant and coffee shop. While their English abilities varied greatly, they were all very willing to help me navigate Sofia. My favorite part was getting a little Bulgarian lesson from my coffee waitress this morning. I can now order an espresso, a necessity as I battle jet lag!
2. There is graffiti everywhere. At least in the part of Sofia I’m in, it’s difficult to find a wall, store front, or dumpster that’s not covered in paint. I scoured the internet and learned that there is a big graffiti culture here. From what I could find, most of it is artistic in nature as opposed to malicious, and there are several big graffiti festivals in Bulgaria and surrounding countries.
3. I’m not sure yet if there are more stray cats or stray dogs, but there are a ton of both. I walked around the city this morning, and saw at least 5 or 6 of each within just a 3 block radius of my hotel. Fortunately, they all seem pretty docile and I didn’t have any problems, though one cat seemed pretty interested in tasting my espresso.
4. The bathroom situation will take some getting used to. The plumbing isn’t fantastic in Bulgaria, which means some toilets can’t handle toilet paper. This is the case in my hotel. Fortunately, living in Peru prepared me for this, but I’m hoping that at least my apartment and school in Silistra are a bit more Western. Also, there is no ledge separating the shower from the rest of the bathroom. That means that if you’re planning to shower, the entire bathroom floor is going to be soaked.
“Do not throw anything in the toilet!”
Overall, things are going really well so far. I slept about 11 hours last night, only waking up a few times. I’m still a bit tired, but I’ve had much worse jet lag than this. I had my first shopska salad this afternoon. It’s a popular Bulgarian salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, white brine cheese, and parsley.
I have to check out of my hotel room in about 20 minutes, and then I’ll explore town a bit more before catching my shuttle to Pravets at 5:00 this evening.