Europe, Travel
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What to Do with 200 Bulgarian Lev

In an attempt to make my flight costs for this trip cheaper I opted to fly back to Turkey via Sofia, Bulgaria instead of straight from Budapest. I was a little nervous, everyone said: “Bulgaria is super poor,” “Watch out for the wild dogs on the street, they will attack you,” and “the cab drivers will rob you blind.” What resulted instead was the discovery of an incredibly rich and unexpected history as well as the meeting two of my new favorite people in the entire world.

I arrived in Sofia late at night and in lieu of speaking zero Bulgarian and being in possession of zero Bulgarian Lev, I was nervous about getting to where I was trying to go. I struck up a conversation with two guys on the plane who turned out to be Polish. They ended up paying for my transportation to the city center, taking care of getting me a cab to Maya’s house, and being some of the best people I’ve ever met. We decided to meet up the next day which is always a trying experience when you don’t have a phone.

Enter morning. Now, I have been in thousands of Catholic churches, a casualty, I suppose, of living in Italy. Likewise, living in Turkey I have now seen my fair share of Mosques. In Zurich I saw some Protestant churches. Sofia marked my first Orthodox church, and I quite liked it!

Russian Style Church

The only building whose roof hasn’t caved in. Did you know Sofia is Europe’s second oldest capital? This church has both Orthodox paintings and Mosque frescos

Sofia is abundant in hot springs and at the fountains there were ample people with large jugs to fill up on their healing power. What looks like a water fountain actually spews hot water, so drinking it isn’t exactly pleasant, but apparently it helps your digestive system.

While on a tour I met two girls, one from San Francisco and one who went to Stanford but grew up in Michigan about 40 minutes from Ann Arbor. We of course had mutual friends. I love when crazy coincidences occur millions of miles from home, let alone in Bulgaria!

The Theater and the two girls I met.

The Bulgarian soldier cracked me up. Had to do it. I made some German kid take this.

Everything with meeting up went perfectly, which NEVER happens. Dariusz and Adam found me miraculously and so did Maya, the Bulgarian girl I was staying with. We all went out to lunch and finished the day drinking in the park.

Dariusz, Adam and Maya

The Bulgarian Language is crazy.

After one single day with Adam and Dariusz I couldn’t believe how wonderful they were. I felt so sad to say goodbye to them and thought about them on the plane a lot. When I landed in Ankara I went online only to find a message from Dariusz telling me that him and Adam had been talking and they both felt like they lost something when I walked away. These are the casualties of traveling, it is both a joy and a travesty to meet amazing people you might never see again.

And as for what to do with 200 Bulgarian Lev…the answer is nothing, because Bulgaria is so amazingly cheap!

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