Monday, December 20, 2010

Our trip to Italy...and some other December news...:)

Well, the trip to Italy was so wonderful and I have such great memories that I'm not even sure where to start from...:) OK, I'll give it a try!!!;)

The evening before our flight to Italy /Friday, December 10th/ Vlado came to Plovdiv to pick me and Vanyo up and drove us to Sofia where we were supposed to spend the night. Hubby had taken two weeks off as he wanted to take care of Vanyo while Minnie and I were away...:) When we arrived at Sofia, Vlado and I bought ourselves new mobile phones and I have to tell you that I simply love my smart Experia!!!:) After the shopping we met with Minnie and the four of us had yummy dinner at Subway...:)

The following day /Saturday, December 11th/ we woke up early, hubby and I had our coffee, the children had hot chocolate and some breakfast and we were off to the airport... I was a bit nervous as I was hoping to get there a bit earlier than we actually did, but still we were on time for our flight /which was at 12.05/...:) Unfortunately just after passing the passport check Minnie noticed that the money she had in her jeans pocket /100 euro/ were missing...:((( This made us both quite sad and worried as you can imagine, but I told Minnie that we should pretend we had paid for our flights with those money and not let this unpleasant incident ruin our trip...:) I think this attitude was the best in a situation like that!!!:)))

The flight to Italy was painful as both Minnie and I had a cold...:((( I was almost deaf after our arrival and was feeling quite dizzy but luckily I was completely fine the following day!!!:)))

My friend Bri who lives in Forli met us at the airport. Her dad Bruno was there as well and he kindly drove us to the old part of the town where we had delicious lunch at a very nice restaurant!!!:) We had some traditional Italian dishes /each one of us had a different one and Minnie and I had so much fun trying each other's food;)/ and some very good sparkling wine. As it was also Minnie's 14th birthday, Bri made her a wonderful surprise - she had spoken with the waiter and after we finished eating, he brought two pieces of cake with a candle on them and sang 'Happy Birthday' to my daughter!!!:) She was sooo happy!!!:)))

Then we went to the hotel Bri had found and booked for us. Its name is 'Gardenia' and it was a very nice and clean place, close to the old part of the town and to the bus station, train station and airport which turned out to be pretty convenient!!!:))) During our walk to the hotel Minnie and I kept noticing beautiful details around us and my daughter tried to take pictures of each one of them!!!:)

After leaving our bags at the hotel, we went to the museum of San Domenico. As Bri is a guide, she gave us a very interesting tour - we saw the regular exhibition of the museum as well as the temporary one /about Egypt/...:).

Bri also took us to the Abbey of San Mercuriale which was such a beautiful place, with such an incredible mystic and spiritual atmosphere, we simply loved it there!!!:)

Then Bri invited us to her favourite cafe where she had some tea, Minnie had hot chocolate and I had coffee /both Minnie and I liked our drinks very much:)/. We had a very nice chat and soon it was time to go and have dinner at the osteria Bri had reserved a table at /the place used to be a butchery and it seems to be very popular/. One of Bri's friends met us there as well and the four of us had a great time together!!!:))) We had so many various starters and everything was so yummy that when they brought our main courses Minnie and I were already full...:))) Oh, I shouldn't forget that we had some really good red wine as well!!!:)))

Bri's friend drove us to our hotel after dinner which Minnie and I were so grateful about as we were both so exhausted...;)

The following day /December 12th, Sunday/ Minnie and I got up early as we had to catch the train to Florence /or Firenze, as is the original Italian name of the city/. Bri came to pick us up at the hotel and patiently waited for us while we had our cappuccinos in a hurry /the cappuccinos were heavenly, by the way;)/. Bri's dad drove us to Faenza where we caught the train to Firenze. We traveled for two hours, but the beautiful views and the interesting chat we had made the time pass rather quickly!!!:)))

When we arrived at Firenze my dear friend Sonia was waiting for us at the train station /she had arrived from Pisa in order to meet us/. We recognized each other right away!!!:) I was so happy that we had arranged this meeting and it was funny /though not surprising at all:)/ how Sonia and Bri got along immediately!!!:) They started chatting as if they have known each other for ages, really sweet!!!:)))

As soon as we started walking on the streets of Firenze I understood why everyone says it's one of the most beautiful cities in Italy...:) Minnie and I loved everything about this magical place - the narrow streets, the old buildings, the decorated windows of the shops, the signs, the colours, the sounds, and all the other details we saw were so special, so full of beauty...:)

We heard a man playing harp in the underpass from the train station to the centre of Firenze and we simply loved his music...:) Then we saw a Historical parade of men and boys dressed in medieval clothes who made quite a show with the flags they were carrying in their hands...:)

Bri and Sonia took us to see the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Giotto Tower /luckily none of us wanted to climb it;)/, the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio /the townhall/, the Ponte Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti... Minnie and I were breathless - everything was so beautiful, so full of history, so special...:) We deeply regretted that we had only one day to stay in Firenze... But we did our best to make the most of that day!!!:)

Minnie took pictures of everything we saw but I took some pictures of her as well - with two living statues, one of which was Leonardo da Vinci!!!:) Leonardo was especially nice - he gave a note from his book to Minnie which made her so happy!!!:)))

On the bank of the river Arno we saw rows of padlocks of different shapes and colours... My friends told us that according to a superstition if couples write their names on such a padlock, lock it and throw the key into the river, they'll stay together forever...:) This may seem a bit silly, but Minnie and I both liked the idea very much!!!:))) Those padlocks were so interesting to looks at!!!:)))

Still, the most interesting place for us /and especially for Minnie/ was the Uffizi Art Gallery!!!:))) We spent hours there admiring the marvelous masterpieces, reading the explanations, trying to figure out the meaning of the details... Minnie fell in love with all those fantastic paintings!!!:)

After our visit at the Uffizi it was time to get something to eat so we went for some yummy pizza...:) Then we sat at a cafe and chatted for a while... Sadly this wonderful day was almost over so we had to rush to catch our trains... Sonia almost missed hers so we had to say 'good bye' in a hurry... I was very sad that our time together was over so soon, but I hope we'll have more chances to meet again in the future as she is just as sweet and lovely as she seemed in her letters!!!:)))

The travel back was OK even though we were all pretty exhausted... Luckily Bri's dad was waiting for us at the Faenza train station and drove us to our hotel...:)

Bri had to work the following day /Monday, December 13th/ so after having coffee /cappuccino for Minnie/ and breakfast at the hotel Minnie and I went exploring Forli by ourselves. It happened to be the day of Santa Lucia, so the whole centre of the town had turned into a huge market with stalls selling everything - mainly torrone but also all kinds of food /chocolate, cakes, olives, cheese, meat, bread, herbs, nuts/, souvenirs, clothes, shoes... Minnie and I had so much fun walking around, looking at the stalls, trying the samples we were offered... When passing by a certain stall selling cheese, a young guy gave us some to try. Minnie said something in Bulgarian and the guy asked her where she was from. When she answered she was from Bulgaria, he got extremely excited and said he had been to Sofia /our capital/ for a folklore festival and had danced Italian folk dances there... Needless to say, I had to take a picture of Minnie and him /holding a huge round piece of the cheese he was selling/.:)))

It was not our only strange meeting that morning, though...:) We saw a weird guy dressed only in boxers. His whole body was covered with clear tape and he had a tie around his neck and a laurel wreath on his head... He was carrying a poster looking like a Facebook page and his head was inserted at the place where the profile picture normally stands... His friends asked us to sign on the poster and we did!!!:) When we told Bri about this strange person she said that probably the guy had just graduated and his friends were making jokes of him... Whatever it was, seemed like they were having lots of fun!!!:)))

When Bri finished work, we met and took the bus for Ravenna. The trip lasted for only about 40 minutes. As soon as we arrived at Ravenna, we went to have lunch at a very nice traditional place /Minnie and I had a kind of a sandwich, made of a piece of the typical thin round bread, folded in two and filled with cheese and ham inside - yummy:)/. Bri took us for some delicious ice-cream afterwards /both Minnie and I had chocolate and stracciatella and the ice-creams were so big that Minnie had to finish mine as well;)/.

Then it was time for sightseeing - Bri took us to see the Basilica of San Vitale, the Basilica of Saint Apollinare Nuovo, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Dante's Tomb and another lovely church that I forgot the name of /which had a natural water basin under the altar with fish swimming inside/. Minnie and I were simply astonished by the beautiful mosaics...:) As the Byzantine culture is closer to the Bulgarian, the atmosphere of Ravenna seemed so familiar somehow!!!:)

This wonderful day was over soon as well... After getting back to Forli Bri came to our hotel where we had our last cup of coffee together and then said 'good bye' to each other... It was sad to separate with Bri just as it was sad to say 'good bye' to Sonia the previous day but I hope that I'll meet both of them again before too long!!!:)

Minnie and I decided to go out at our last night in Italy so we went to a nice little restaurant close to our hotel where we had yummy dinner - some bread with herbs, some prosciutto and pizza /ham, mushrooms and cheese/.

The following morning after having breakfast /and coffee for me/ we checked out of the hotel and took the bus to the airport. Luckily Bri had helped us buy the tickets the previous day, had written 'aeroporto' on one of them and had shown us where to take the bus so everything was nice and easy...:) Actually we were at the airport quite early /we arrived at 9.30 a.m. and our flight was scheduled for 1.30 p.m./ but we walked around, did some shopping, had some sandwiches, etc. so the time passed by somehow...

The flight home was painless for both Minnie and me and it was such a shock for us to find everything covered with snow and freezing in Bulgaria while we had had such a beautiful sunny weather in Italy...;) Vlado and Vanyo were waiting for us at the airport and we were so happy to see them again!!!:))) Vanyo surprised us because one of his teeth was missing - it had fallen out!!!:) I was a bit sad that I had missed the moment /it was his first tooth changing/ but we can't have it all, right?!;)

We left Minnie at the flat in Sofia because she needed to get ready for school for the following day. Then Vlado drove me and Vanyo to Plovdiv. /which was so sweet of him:)/ We stopped to have dinner at 'Happy Bar and Grill' and as soon as we got home hubby had to rush back to Sofia as we didn't want to leave Minnie alone for the night...

The following day /December 15th, Wednesday/ there was a Christmas performance at Vanyo's Pre-School. His role was a star and the stars played a very spectacular torch dance...:) Vanyo had so much fun and as always he greatly enjoyed all the attention he got after the performance!!!:)))

Then, on December 17th /Friday/ I had to go to Blagoevgrad for a case which meant lots of traveling again... I took the bus early in the morning /7.30 a.m./ and arrived four hours later. When my case was over, I took the bus to Sofia /luckily this time I traveled for two hours only/ where I spent the night with Minnie and Vlado /actually hubby went to a Christmas party with his colleagues that evening but we saw each other briefly before he left/. Vanyo spent the night at my parents' home. He was very excited as Santa Claus had come to his Pre-School that day and had brought him his most desired toy - William Furno from the Lego Hero Factory Series...:)

The following day hubby, Minnie and I went Christmas shopping both in Sofia and Plovdiv and we had so much fun!!!:))) Then we went to pick Vanyo up from my parents and in the evening the four of us went to the mall where we did some more shopping /Minnie got new shoes, jeans and a T-shirt with a sign 'Daddy's Girl':)/ and had dinner...:)))

During the weekend we finally put the Christmas decoration in our home and everything looks so nice now - cosy and festive!!!:)))

So far I have seen only two movies in December - 'The Town' /well, let's just say that Ben Affleck was the best thing for me in that movie;)/ and 'Legion' /nothing special... the only thing I liked in the movie was the way the archangels looked - their wings were kind of cool;)/...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Minnie's name day... and some other November news..:)

I can't believe that it's December already... Where did the year go?! Seems it was yesterday it started and now it's almost over...

Well, except of Minnie's name day /November 11th, Thursday/, the month of November was pretty uneventful... I was sad that I couldn't be with my daughter on her special day, and I was feeling pretty lonely, so I decided to invite four of my High School friends for a drink after work... We went to a bar, called 'Chocolate' and we had such a wonderful time together!!!:)

Of course, Minnie got some nice presents for her name day which were actually all given to her in advance /some underwear from my parents, money from my mother-in-law and a Metallica T-shirt from her dad, her brother and me/. On her name day she had brought some chocolates as a treat for her classmates and teachers, so she has had a nice celebration too!!!:)

On Minnie's name day I also picked up her passport so we got one step closer to our Italy trip...:) We are supposed to travel on December 11th and I still can't believe that it's really happening...:) It all seems so unreal!!!:)))

I met my High School friends for a drink the following Thursday again /November 18th/ but this time I brought Vanyo with me as well...:) He was very happy to meet my friends and they all liked him a lot!!!:)))

The rest of November has been quite dull - I was either very busy or very bored at work /but feeling mostly lonely and depressed/ and very happy during the weekends...

I saw only two movies that month - 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' /a very cute movie, fun and entertainment for the whole family, even though Vanyo kept saying that Harry Potter is a much better wizard;)/ and 'The Expendables' /the story was nothing special, but the action scenes were incredible... and I loved the witty dialogue between Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the church:)/.