Back to my regularly scheduled programming (I hope!)
We left ISRAEL on the 4th heading about 2.5 hours North and West to Sofia, Bulgaria. The flight was easy and cheap and the country has been so pleasant!!
Being back in Eastern Europe is both familiar and shocking…. So many shapes and mannerisms remind me of my time in Prague, but aren’t *exactly* the same. However, the 3 Czech words I still remember DO translate to Bulgarian. And, yes, I use them often. “Dobry den” (hello! literally: good day) and “nazdravi” (cheers!)
We spent the first 3 days of our week in Sofia eating and touring and museum-ing and more eating and having a lovely time. We took a tour of the city with a young actor named Stanislav (traditional Bulgarian name) and tried to absorb Sofia’s 7,000 year history in 2.5 hours. The most fascinating part of Bulgaria’s history was how little I knew about it… did you know Bulgaria was aligned with Germany in WWII? Or that Bulgaria was a satellite country of the USSR (as opposed to *part* of the USSR). Also wild to think this is all such recent history. Still blows my mind that the USSR fell a mere 3.5 years before I was born, but it feels so, so distant (until you get to Eastern Europe)
After our history lesson, we went to dinner at a cool place called Kosmos (if you’re in Sofia, go there). I had a delightful vegetarian tasting menu with wine pairing (it was one of our two anniversary celebration dinners) and Coop had horse meatballs. Traditional Bulgarian food for both of us!
The next night we went to Tenebris (a “dark” restaurant). Have you heard of a place like this? It’s pitch black in the dining room (not even an EXIT sign glowing), no phones, no watches, just you and your food and your table buddy! A visually impaired waitperson served us food we ate with our hands. I licked the plate because no one can see you!!!!!! Amazing experience. One I’d love to recreate again with more people! At the end of the meal you have to guess your food… I got 3/5. Cooper got 5/5 and thoroughly impressed our questioner.
On the 7th we rented a car and drove the length of the country allllllll the way to the Black Sea to a town called Varna. En route, we stopped in a colorful little town, Plovdiv, where the sun was shining and people were out and about! When we got to Varna, it was raining and gray and seemingly desolate. We had dinner on a pier at a cheesy faux Bulgarian pirate ship and I was just shy of hopeless Varna had anything in store for us. The biggest beach destination in Bulgaria was so far all dilapidated buildings and stray cats.
In the morning I was ready to cut our losses and leave… I couldn’t imagine spending 3 days in Varna. Even our Air Bnb was a let down (especially on the heels of our Sofia apartment which was a GEM). Luckily we had the car and could get the hell out of Dodge. HOWEVER when we left the apartment that morning the sun was shining and we took a left out of the apartment instead of right and…. (you probably guessed it)… Varna was teaming with life! We stumbled upon a local art festival, live music in the street, a STARBUCKS! Spirits = lifted! No longer disappointed or embarrassed to have dragged us 6 hours away from a cool city we loved. We beached — at the Black Sea no less, parked, went to really the weirdest aquarium either of us had ever been to in our lives, and attempted to gamble (lots of casinos in Varna!)
Yesterday, we crushed the new podcast, The Shrink Next Door, which is the perfect car pod. It’s the trashy beach novel of podcasts. Definitely recommend if you have 4 hours in a car.
Now we’re on the plane next to, quite possibly, the worlds cutest baby. The mom asked me to hold her while she put her front carry pouch on and I’ve never been so happy at 6am. En route back to Israel to see Ali and Emery and Jaci and Geffen and take in Middle East + Mediterranean country one last time.