Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day One: Sofia

I left my house around 5:30 am home time got on a plane and flew to DC where I had a 6 hour layover or so. I used this time to talk to people in the US one more time. Then I boarded the plane at about 4pm home time and left the US. I had a bulkhead aisle seat, with no one sitting next to me even! So plenty on space. However, no chatty neighbor like the 4 people I meet in the DC airport and spent the afternoon with just talking about random subjects.

I flew with United to Munich. They served a yummy dinner of cheese tortellini with a creamy tomato sauce, salad with ginger dressing (why couldn’t it be a NORMAL dressing that I could eat?), a piece of bread, and a mint-brownie. They also gave us pretzels and “breakfast” of yogurt/applesauce and a muffin/bread. Overall, I prefer British Airways for traveling overseas of all the airlines I’ve flown in my life- they give you more: such as eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrushes, big blankets, and pillows. United only gave us small blanket and a pillow. However, they flight attendants were very nice.

In Munich I had about 1.5 hours there. I didn’t have to go thru customs, so I didn’t get my passport stamped. :( However, I was able to buy a few souvenirs and walk past the sex shop in the airport. Yes you read that correct. Well, it was more of a strip club, but none the less. IT WAS IN THE AIRPORT!!!!

Then I boarded the plane based on following the line of people- all of the announcements were in Bulgarian and German, so I didn’t know it was boarding except for the line! We boarded on both the front AND the black of the plane. I was in the back, so I boarded the back (no it was not just to say I did so, I promise) (ok so that was it a bit). And got to sit by the window. They gave us a cup of fruit and a lemon pastry (Lufthansa, btw).

We arrived in Sofia on time (a bit early to be truthful) and I went through customs (but didn’t get a stamp, sad face, I wonder why not). Then got my bags (apparently I was the last person from my plane to do so). Walked out the door and met my transport to the hostel. Then we drove there- about a 10 minute drive or so. After checking in and unpacking, I collapsed for a one hour nap.

I then wandered down town for a while, sitting every now and then. Stopping at a “café” which is not a café by French or American standards. You go inside and order your food and pay for it, then go sit outside and eat it. I didn’t know that at the first one I stopped at, so the lady had to tell me twice. Oops.

I also got ice cream because it was hot and all the locals were doing it. I then went on the Free Sofia Tour

“The free English language sightseeing walking tour of Bulgaria's capital, organized by a non-profit organization. The sightseeing tours of Sofia are organized by volunteers from a non-profit organization. Every tour is both fun and educational, the perfect introduction to the city and its thousands of years of history.”

We visited about 32 different places (some of which were at the same time).  Here is a sample of the places we went to:

 Sveta Nedelya Church

 Banya Bashi Mosque
 Central Public Bathhouse
 Monument to the Tsar LiberatorAKA a church
 The presidency building with guards.

Former Poyal Palace

Then along with some people I met on the tour, we went to a vegetarian restaurant Called Dream House. I had quinoa and zucchini and fresh squeezed juice. It was yummy and cheap.

Then home to exhaustion.

See you around the globe!

sitting in Sofia

So I've been a bad Blogger. I've been in Sofia for 2 days now plus a day of travel and haven't posted. The problem with travel you see is, well, travel. You go out all day and then crawl into bed exhausted!

I'll tell you a bit more about each day tonight I promise! However, I need to continue to explore now that I've rested a bit.

See you around the globe!
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

And let me introduce you to:

Naum, Jen, Lizzie, Cassidy, Daniel

The Macedonian 2011-2012 Fulbrighters. There are five of us, which is the largest cohort ever (according to last year’s cohort)! There are two researchers, two ETAs (English Teaching Assistantships), and one Scholar/lecturer.

Since you already know one of the researchers (AKA me) let me introduce you to Daniel. Daniel will be researching the Aegean Macedonians who “were kicked out of Greece”/ "emigrated from Aegean Macedonia in the 19th century” and went to other parts of the Soviet Union, and then many came and settled in Macedonia. He will be working with Navocomes, a group of them that get together, learning about their history, stories, and why they chose to go where they did. His wife and two children will be coming with him. He has two children, 4 and ~15 months. He will be located in Skopje, like me. He was born in the UK, and emigrated to the US when he was older. He is an American citizen (you have to be to get a Fulbright). He is studying at Arizona State University for his PhD. This is his (wives) blog.

The scholar/lecturer is Naum. He will be lecturing about dramatic arts in Skopje. He is originally Macedonian. He spent 40 years in Skopje, then came to the US on a Fulbright Student Program from another country. He then has spent 27 years in the US. This is his first long time extended stay back in Macedonia.

The two ETAs:

Jen: She will be located in Tetovo. She is a Special Education teacher in Nebraska during her normal life and has been for the past 6 years. She received a one year sabbatical from her contract in Nebraska for the Fulbright. She has never been abroad (unless you count Mexico, then she has). Her blog is here.

Lizzie: She will be based in Bitola. She has a degree in library information and currently lives in Illinois. She will be working on a few different projects, but hasn't settled on just one quite yet. More later. She is not maintaining a blog as of yet.

See you around the globe!