Bulgaria -- Why not?

When people ask me where I want to visit next, my usual response is "Somewhere I haven't been."  I like going to different places and meeting new people.   But there are some places that never make the list.   Bulgaria was one of those places.

My friend Chad Chernet was a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria.  His wife, Vayana is Bulgarian.   In July, 2013 Vayana was invited to a wedding in Sofia, the capital city.   They invited me to tag along to see this place they were always talking about.  I had no reason to say no, and instead said "Why not?"

I didn't have high expectations.  Having been to other former Soviet and Soviet bloc countries (Russia, Ukraine and East Germany) my expectations were very low.  I was ready for drab and gloomy conditions.   Within 30 minutes of arriving in Sofia, I quickly changed my mind.   What I found was a bustling city with outdoor coffee shops, lots of flowers and a very positive energy.    

After the wedding and a few days in Sofia, we took a bus across the country to Sunny Beach and Burgas, both on the Black Sea.  Burgas is where we met Nadya Ovanesyan, one of Vayana's best friends.  

Nadya invited us to her parents' house.   Shortly after arriving the Rakia, a traditional Bulgarian liquor, started to flow.   Her parents welcomed us warmly and even gave us gifts, even though we were unexpected house guests.  

Chad Chernet, Steve Hunsicker, Mr. Ovanesyan, Nadya Ovanesyan, Mrs. Ovanesyan

And then came the salad.  It is traditional to serve guests Rakia and salad in Bulgaria.   The Shopska salad is amazing.  I still make it at home.

One of the many lessons that I've learned over many years of traveling is that the best experiences are not the sights that you see, but the people you get to meet.   Bulgaria is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people.  Nadya and I have stayed in contact with each other.  We even got together again when I was visiting Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which is where she lives.

Dates of Travel

  • July-August, 2013

Places Visited

  • Sofia
  • Burgas
  • Sunny Beach
  • Ruse



This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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