Saturday, February 23, 2008

Within reach

As Betsy and I immerse ourselves in Bulgarian guidebooks, we're realizing that we are within easy reach of a few of our favorite activities.  Mt. Cherni Vruh (7,500'), in Vitosha National Park, is right behind the school, along with all the hiking and skiing that come with it.  In fact, Bulgaria's longest cross-country ski trail is in the park.  Ever since Bruce took us skiing in Duluth this winter, I've been eager to get out and continue practicing.  

The school is also about fifteen miles from Lake Iskur, a favorite for kayakers.  And the Iskur Gorge, a one hundred-mile stretch of river lined by sheer walls, occupied by waterfalls and caves, and traditional agricultural villages, stretches north of the city for a relaxing weekend trip. Possibilities abound, and all within fifteen miles of Sofia.  I'm looking forward to posting our own pictures of these places, but until then, I've stolen a couple from tourism sites.  

Bulgarian History

Today's post comes from the BBC Chronology on Bulgaria.

681 Bulgarian State is first established

1396-1878 Ottoman Rule "The Turkish Yoke"

1914-1918 Bulgaria teams with Germany and loses 100,000 people

1939-1945 Occupied by Germany, invaded by the Soviet Army, soviet party takes political power

1946 Monarchy abolished and communist republic wins new elections

1947-1980s Communist Era

1991 New Constitution, Bulgaria becomes a parliamentary republic

1992-2001 Period of Economic Crisis, Protests, Fallout from Communist Era

2001 Former King Simeon II returns to the country and starts his own party, the National Movement Simeon II. Simeon's party wins the elections and he becomes premier in July, ushering in a period of relative stability.

2007 Bulgaria, now under a socialist party-led coalition, joins the E.U.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bulgarian "Legend"...

Today's photos come from the Bulgarian tourism website at : Nick, I hope you are seeing those delicious Bulgarian cinnamon rolls and paging through your calendar for an open week to visit us next fall! Seriously though, the tourism website is fun, ESPECIALLY the movie on the left side of the screen about Bulgaria's Wonders, featuring an amusing legendary creation story obviously created by the tourist board. I highly recommend it, or at least part of it, since it gets a bit long. The last picture here is of the Rila Monastery, an incredibly famous landmark and World Heritage Site not too far from Sofia. We will definitely be visiting!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oscar and Felix weigh in on Sofia

Oscar and Felix are pretty excited that Bulgaria will let them in without any lengthy quarantine. They confided in me between naps that they've always wanted to learn Bulgarian and get in touch with their European kitty compadres. This Sofia city scene comes from a Bulgarian property website catering to the many folks moving from the UK to Bulgaria. It's called Assetz Bulgaria, and has a few neat photos.


Here are a few photos of the marketplace in Sofia, some of the big buildings and monuments, and Mount Vitosha, which is right behind our new school. These pictures come from a site called

And so it begins!

Well, we went to Boston, interviewed, got offers, accepted one of them, and have begun studying Cyrilic in preparation for our new job at the American College of Sofia! Check it out at: (the above photo is from the school website)


I am setting up this blog now in hopes that it will be easy and fun to keep all our friends and family updated on our adventures and experiences in Bulgaria and its neighboring countries. The school itself looks amazing. Here are a few things I like about it:

1. It takes the top tested kids in Bulgaria, gives most of them scholarships, and then gives them a chance at a great education and new opportunities all over the world.

2. It is a twenty five minute walk to Mount Vitosha and a five minute walk to an Austrian Grocery Store with everything a fruit-loving Minnesotan California girl could want.

3. The country just joined the E.U., so it is both up and coming and not overrun.

4. We can start any clubs or sports teams we want, and we won't have 20 hours worth of practice every week! Just what sounds fun to everyone.

5. The director of the National theater is working with the kids on their drama program, and they are currently producing the musical Rent (which I love).

6. There are a bunch of young international faculty that do things like weekend trips to Istanbul, mountain hikes, bowling nights and potluck dinners.

7. The school is going to work on renovating two apartments into one so there will be room for a couple on campus. Incidentally, the campus is really pretty!


Shake your head yes!

An interesting tip from a Bulgarian named Scarlie: "We move heads sideways (ear to shoulder) to indicate 'yes' and nod to say 'no' . Our nod, however, is more like raising the chin up instead of lowering it down. To avoid confusion you may just want to say YES and NO ... and try not to move your head too much!"