First impressions

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.

DSCN0213

“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.

DSCN0214Shopska Salad

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.

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8 thoughts on “First impressions

  1. I have so enjoyed reading about your adventures in Bulgaria. When we were in Rome, we had a shower the same as the one you described. There was water everywhere.
    We know you will be a great teacher, my best advice is to be enthusiastic about your teaching, the children will respond.
    Aunt Toni

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  2. It’s fun to read your first impressions, photos included, to help understand your experience. Several of the things you mentioned remind me of Peru as well. Enjoy your adventures!

    Love, Mom

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    • Thanks, Mom! I hope to catch up on Facetime soon. The Fulbright Institute has been very interesting so far. I’ve met some great people, and had my first couple of classes today. I’ll try to get a blog post up about it soon!

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  3. Hi! We are all enjoying visiting Bulgaria through your eyes. We figure if you are learning Bulgarian perhaps we should too…..Dobur kusmet ! (Just got my first smartphone yesterday….sad but true :)…..and can’t find the right accent symbols for the u’s ) Se nasladite na vashiya den!

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    • Glad you are enjoying it, Aunt Meredith! If you prefer to enjoy visiting Bulgaria through your own eyes, feel free to come visit. As you probably already know, they make a lot of wine here!

      I had my first Bulgarian lesson this morning, and it appears we are on just about the same level. Hopefully the learning comes quickly, but I’ve found it to be pretty tough so far!

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  4. Michael, I can see Patrick and Bulgarian plumbing just could not coexist! : )
    Hope your internal clock has adjusted by the time you’re reading this. My cousin spent a few years teaching in Romania and has been back several times to see some of his students and many friends he made. He was a senior school administrator in Chicago retired early, and went to Europe with the Peace Corps. Enjoy!!!

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