I’ve got to say, Bulgaria is very, very cool, and beautiful, and amazing, and I love it and want to go back right now. We were restricted to Sophia, but, as far as what I saw, Sophia, and all of Bulgaria, is a very nifty place.
First of all, the drive there was beautiful (I’ll post pictures on flickr soon). We drove through parts of the FYROM and the countryside of Bulgaria. It was amazing. The rolling hills and the mountains and the cute little farms with sheep grazing on the hillside were wonderful to look at. On the way back, I kept attempting to sleep but then I’d open my eyes, look out the window and be awed by the scenery. It’s hard to sleep when you’re driving past such a beautiful part of the world.
Mostly, we did the shopping thing and the eating and drinking thing. We had some absolutley delicious food at a Jazz Bar called Checkpoint Charley’s the last night we were there. It was seriously the best food I’ve eaten in my entire life. And of course, seeing as we’re Soldiers who aren’t allowed to drink while in Kosovo, there was a lot of beer, wine, and liquor consumption as well.
I’d love to go back to Bulgaria sometime just to explore more of the city and to immerse myself into the culture and history. A three day stint in Sophia doesn’t do it justice. I just got the feeling that there was so much more to see and do than we had time for, and that’s frustrating since I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to be in Europe after this deployment is over.
One of the joys of being in Bulgaria was the attempts at communication. See, I speak English, and most of Bulgaria speaks Bulgarian, or, best case scenario, a little bit of English. It really was fun to attempt to communicate using hand signals and whatnot to explain things to our cab drivers. If there was a time when any of us got frustrated, it was when our cab driver desperately wanted to talk to us, but couldn’t because his English was limited at best. He tried so hard to point out important buildings, and all we could do was guess what he was saying by shouting out things like, “library, no? Okay….church? Palace?” It was awesome.
Another nifty thing about Bulgaria is the roses that grow everywhere. I’m still trying to dig up some information on them, but they seriously grow everywhere. People have them in their gardens, they grow on the side of the road, they grow in the medians. They’re everywhere, and they’re beautiful. All that I’ve been able to discover so far, is that Bulgaria produces somewhere between 50 and 70% of the rose oil in the world and that Bulgaria is home to the Valley of Roses. Very cool.
In case you’re curious, here is some more information about Bulgaria:
- The first air-dropped bomb in military history was created by the Bulgarian Air Force. It was used during the First Balkan War.
- Bulgaria is the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which is the second most used alphabet in the world.
- Bulgaria is bordered by five countries: Romania, Serbia, Macedonia (FYROM), Greece, and Turkey. Bulgaria is also bordered by the Black Sea.
- The capital of Bulgaria is Sophia.
- The climate and geography of Bulgaria varies greatly between snow-peaked mountains and the sunny weather around the coast of the Black Sea.
- The Balkan moutain range runs through the middle of the country, from west to east.
- Bulgaria is stated to be one of the cradles of European civilization, with a history dating back to prehistoric times.
- From what I saw, street sweeping is done mostly by women with straw brooms and shovels.
- Bulgaria has always been a major crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa, with five of the ten Trans-European corridors running through it.
- Bulgaria has one of the slowest population growth rates in the world, and has had negative growth since the 1990s.