Thursday, October 13, 2016

So far, so good...

As always, September was a quiet month until the children got back to school/university and the madness started again…:) 

I got back to work on September 7th, full of energy and optimism…:) It was great to meet my colleagues too…:) 

Minnie got back to Uni on September 12th /Monday/. Now that it’s her second year as a Medical student, she is more confident but of course she still has a lot to study…:)

Vanyo started school on September 15th /Thursday/. He is in 6th grade now and has lots of new teachers... I hope it will be a positive change, though...:) 

On September 21st Minnie passed the practical part of the driving license exam so it’s official – we have another driver in our family!:) Needless to say, we are very excited about it!:)

September 22nd was a public holiday and as it happened on a Thursday, the government gave the Friday off too and we had a great 4-day weekend…:) Of course, we had to work the previous Saturday instead… 

On the first day of the long weekend we drove to Velingrad /a beautiful town in the Rhodopes, famous for its mineral springs/. We stayed at ‘Lucky Light Boutique Hotel & SPA’ which was such a wonderful place, with great atmosphere, delicious food and great spa, working 24/7 /it was such a pleasure to be the only ones using it at night:)/! We also visited ‘Kleptuza’ twice. It’s a very beautiful area, famous for its unique nature /protected by the law/ and for the biggest karst spring in Bulgaria…:) We even got on a pedal boat there and it was fun…:) 

Unfortunately our holidays were over too soon and on the Saturday we headed home… But we had a great time so we’re planning to visit Velingrad again /and will most probably stay in the same hotel/…:) 

I saw only one movie in September - ‘Les Miserables’… To be honest, I’m not into musicals much, but I still enjoyed it because the actors and the story were great...:) 

And I read one book in September /actually they are two novels in one book/ - ‘I Claudius/Claudius the God’ by Robert Graves. I greatly enjoyed it - it was very interesting and really well written...:) I learned a lot about the history and culture of Rome and at the same time I greatly admired the subtle sense of humour of the author!:) Two thumbs up!:) 

So far this month I have seen one movie and have read two books…:)

The movie I’ve seen is ‘Me Before You’. It was a beautiful and touching story, bitter-sweet as life itself... I loved it!:)

The first book I’ve read is ‘East of Eden’ by John Steinbeck. I read this book for a first time when I was 16, so wasn't mature enough to understand it then... Now I greatly enjoyed the wisdom and the beauty of the story, the depth of the characters and the diversity of their inner world... 

And the second book I’ve read is ‘Autobiography’ by the Serbian author Branislav Nušić ...:) It is in the list of books Vanyo studies at school this year... It was incredibly funny, and still - full of wisdom and philosophy!:) Two thumbs up!:)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My summer so far...:)

July was a very nice month…:) We spent the first July weekend in Plovdiv as usual but now that both children were free from school, we decided to go out for dinner...:) On the Sunday, July 2nd, we went to ‘Johanna’ which is a lovely restaurant with traditional Bulgarian food and the most delicious BBQ…:) 

And after dinner we went for a walk along the Main Street of Plovdiv and in the Central Park where we sat at the ‘singing fountains’.:) It’s a lovely show of fountains with music and lights…:) I attended it very often as a child but it’s been ages since I’ve last been there so it was very special to see it again – this time with my husband and children!:) 

After the show we picked up some delicious ice-cream and enjoyed it on our walk back to our car…:) Oh, and we also met one of the X Factor stars…:) His name is Georgi Arsov and he has studied at Minnie’s High School…:) Needless to say, Minnie didn’t miss her chance to take a picture with him!:) 

On July 5th, Minnie, Vlado and me /Vanyo was in Karlovo/ went to see the opera ‘La Traviata’…:) My dear cousin Plamen was playing Giorgio Germont and he was fantastic!:) After the performance we had dinner at a restaurant near the opera and we had a wonderful time together!:)

The following weekend was interesting too…:) On the Saturday, July 9th, we went to see the Asen’s Fortress. It’s a medieval fortress in the Rhodopes, close to Plovdiv, and we’ve passed under it many times…We’ve wanted to see it for ages, so I’m glad we finally did!:) The nature there is amazing!:) Unfortunately only the church has been renovated, the rest of the fortress is in ruins…:( Oh, and we saw a little snake there, probably poisonous… Luckily it was dead, though…:) 

The next weekend was even better…:) Vlado and I had the Friday, July 15th off… Minnie had driving lessons that day but as soon as they were over, we picked up Vanyo from Karlovo and drove to Pamporovo /a lovely resort in the Rhodopes/. We checked in at a lovely hotel, called ‘Nevada’ /the two studios we had rented were perfect:)/ and as soon as we dropped our luggage, we took a taxi to the Rojen Folk Festival…:) It was dark and quite cold by then and we were very tired, but we still enjoyed listening to the unique folk music from the Rhodopes under the stars…

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and went to the Rojen Folk Festival again…:) We did some shopping /mostly souvenirs/ and listened to the talented performers...:) It was so exciting to see all those people, wearing Bulgarian folk costumes, waving Bulgarian flags, and all of them – proud of their origin, proud to be Bulgarian… The feeling was incredible!!!:) We returned to our hotel at lunch time…:) The kids had fun at the fitness and hubby and I simply relaxed...

We had dinner at restaurant ‘Excalibur’ at ‘The Castle’ hotel complex… The food and the service were excellent and we’ll definitely go back there!:) They were making ‘cheverme’ in front of us /it’s a typical specialty from the Rhodopes – a whole lamb or goat is grilled slowly on a stick/ so we simply had to try it and it was delicious – it simply melted in our mouths…:)

We had planned to go back to the Rojen Folk Festival after dinner but then we changed our minds and decided to go for a hike instead…:) The nature in Pamporovo is very beautiful, the air is clean and fresh so all of us enjoyed the hike to the fullest!:)

Unfortunately the next morning after breakfast we had to say good-bye to Pamporovo… Vlado and I left Minnie and Vanyo in Karlovo and continued to Sofia… 

Luckily I had the next week /July 18th - 22nd/ off too… While Vlado was working, I was all alone but I didn’t mind as I really needed some time by myself…:) I didn’t do anything special, just relaxed, read books, watched movies and TV series /like the first two seasons of the Bulgarian TV series ‘Liaisons’ which turned out to be hilarious and I can’t wait for season 3 now:)/, etc… And enjoyed the time with my hubby in the evenings when he came back from work – just the two of us as a couple…:) 

On July 22nd Vlado and I celebrated our 21st anniversary…:) He surprised me with something I once mentioned that I wanted – a bracelet, made of red thread /according to an old superstition red thread on the hand keeps us safe/ with a golden symbol of eternity…:) It was so sweet of him and totally unexpected as we usually don’t exchange gifts for our anniversary…:)

I saw five movies and read two books in July…:) The movies are Kokowääh 2 /it was great - sweet, touching and full of funny moments:)/, ‘Allegiant’ /it was a bit predictable but still exciting and full of incredible action scenes and visual effects...:)/, My Name is Khan’ /one of the best movies I've ever seen - beautiful and touching!:) I highly recommend it to everyone!:)/, ‘Maleficent’ /great entertainment for the whole family...:)/ and ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ /it was much better than 'Snow White and the Huntsman' in my opinion…:)/. And the books are both by L.J.Smith - ‘The Vampire Diaries: The Fury’ /it was much better than the first two books of the series/ and ‘The Vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion’ /not a masterpiece but easy to read and a perfect ending to the saga..:)/. 

Also in July I started watching the TV series ‘The 100’ and it was so interesting that I saw all the three seasons in no time…:) And now I’m curious for season 4!:)

The first half of August was rather uneventful as I had to work… And Minnie attended her first internship at a hospital – at the endoscopic surgery ward of the Military Medical Academy…:) She greatly enjoyed her internship and just can’t wait for the next summer!:

The last day at work before my summer holidays was actually my birthday, August 12th. It was a fantastic day – I got totally spoilt by my family and friends…:) Once again I realized how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life!:) All those phone calls, e-mails, messages, Facebook greetings, cards, gifts, etc. really warmed my heart...:) I had a little celebration with my colleagues at the office /I treated them with a cake and wine and they gave me some lovely gifts:)/ and then, in the evening, I celebrated with my family and in-laws at a pub in Karlovo /with the most delicious food:)/…:) 

The next couple of days were slow and relaxing… And on August 16th we drove to Myrodatou, Greece, where we spent 10 fantastic days…:) We stayed at the same house as last year, surrounded by olive trees and close to the beach…:) And just as last year, everything was perfect – the weather, the sea, the food and the people!:) But as we stayed longer this year, we decided to make some trips…:)

First we visited Thassos…:) It was so exciting to travel on a ferry – a first time for Vanyo and me…:) We had delicious lunch /gyros and frappe/, did some shopping /T-shirts for the children and fridge magnets:)/, had some ice-cream and – last, but not least went to the Agora and the Archaeological Museum… The museum was so interesting and I was so impressed by the gigantic sculpture /Kouros/ I saw there…:) Awesome!:) And I greatly enjoyed having Minnie as my guide, explaining things, reading signs in Ancient Greek, etc.:) Unfortunately it turned out that one day in Thassos was not enough, so we should definitely visit it again, for a longer time!:) 

Then we went to Porto Lagos – we had to see the famous church of St Nicholas, which is located on the island of the lagoon Vistonidas…:) Such a picturesque and peaceful place, I loved it!:)

Our third trip was to Kavala…:) I just fell in love with this incredible city – such a special atmosphere, such a beautiful mixture of ancient and modern!:) Unfortunately it was too hot that day, so only visited the castle, did some shopping and had dinner /delicious seafood, my favourite in Greece:)/ but we’ll definitely come back to see more…:) 

And our last trip was to the Archaeological Site and Museum of Avdira…:) We made friends with the people who worked at the site, especially one of them was super nice, and he was fluent in Russian…:) Both the site and the museum were very, very interesting and once again it was very helpful to have Minnie by my side…:) Actually I noticed that Vanyo is also very interested in history and ancient cultures which makes me extremely happy!:) 

Unfortunately our holidays in Greece were over too soon and on August 26th we got back home… Actually we only stayed for a couple of hours and then drove to Sozopol /a lovely town at the Black Sea/ to drop Minnie at the Summer School of Classical Languages…:) She came back home yesterday, August 30th, full of stories and in perfect mood!:)

We don’t have any more plans for the rest of the summer… I guess we’ll just relax and enjoy being together!:)

So far I've seen eight movies in August…:) Here is the list: ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ /not as funny as the first Dumb and Dumber movie, but still OK to watch for some silly entertainment.../, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ /it was shocking but I loved the story, the dark humour and the acting...:) Especially Leo DiCaprio was a killer!:)/, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ /great movie - sweet and fresh!:)/, ‘Warcraft’ /such a disappointment...:(/, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ /great movie - exciting, full of humour, action and unexpected twists, I loved it!:)/, ‘LOL’ - the French original /another great movie - sweet, funny and touching...:) And I simply *love* Sophie Marceau...:) She is so beautiful and talented!:)/, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ /it wasn't bad, but too brutal for my taste...:( Liam Neeson was incredible, though...:)/ and ‘Escape Plan’ /nothing special…/. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some more June news...:)

Vanyo finished school on June 15th. He got 'excellent' 5.50 for all of his 5th grade subjects - Bulgarian Language and Literature, English, Russian, Maths, History and Civilization, Geography and Economics, Man and Nature, IT, Music, Art, Home Ways of Life and Techniques, Sports and Compulsory Chosen Subject Maths. It’s a bit worse than the previous years when he got ‘excellent’ 6.00 /the best possible mark/, but we realize that this school year was tough and stressful for Vanyo because it was the first one in Middle School and he had to adjust to a new class and teachers... That’s why we’re still very, very proud of him!:)

Minnie finished with her University exams on June 23rd and a few days later /on June 28th/ she passed the theory part of the driving license exam.:) Now she is preparing for the practical part of the exam and let’s hope that soon we’ll have another driver in our family!:)

And yesterday, June 29th, Vanyo and Minnie were invited to the birthday party of Vanyo's dear friend Neda...:) The children had lots of fun at the bowling, disco and laser arena...:) My husband and I had a great time too as we really like Neda's parents...:) We had planned to meet again after the summer holidays and I really hope we can make it happen!:)

I saw two more movies in June – ‘Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation’ /the best Mission: Impossible movie so far in my opinion:)/ and ‘Gods of Egypt’ /wonderful special effects and incredible Gerard Butler…:) Yes, he is great even being the bad guy!:)/.

I read two books in June – ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson /it was the 6th book of my '19th century Golden Books Collection'... I'm not a fan of pirate stories actually, but this book was really well written and easy to read...:)/ and ‘Breaking Dawn’ by Stephenie Meyer /a wonderful ending of the Twilight saga...:) And I greatly enjoyed it that a part of it was written from Jacob's POV!:)/. 

Also in June I finished watching the 6th season of ‘Game of Thrones’ and it was incredible!:) Can’t wait for the next season and for the next book of the series!:)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Budapest trip, my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and Vanyo's birthday party with friends

May 24th was a public holiday here - Day of the Bulgarian Alphabet /the Cyrillic/ and Culture. It happened on a Tuesday, but the government gave the Monday off too /we had to work on the previous Saturday, May 14th, instead/ so we had a lovely 4-day weekend! :) I took off the Friday, May 20th too, so I even got a 5-day mini-vacation...:)

As soon as hubby finished work on May 20th, we left for Budapest...:) We drove through Serbia and had delicious dinner at Restoran Sunce in Tsaribrod - their barbecue is fantastic!:) Early in the morning we arrived in Budapest and as it was too early to check in at the apartment we had rented, we started to explore the city...:)

We visited the Nyugati Railway station /which I remembered from the first time I had visited this amazing city in 1987:)/, the Parliament /I think I can never get tired of looking at this beautiful building:)/,  the Mai Mano House of Photography and the Operetta House /both very impressive buildings/... We had lunch at Gastland Bistro Oktogon which was a new experience for us at it was an 'all-you-can-eat' and we have never tried such before...:) The food was great! :)

Then it was time for check-in. :) The apartment we had rented in Pest was nice and very close to the city centre so all the sights we wanted to see were a walking distance away, which was very convenient...:) We were exhausted by travelling all night long, so we had a nap before heading off to explore the city some more...:) 

In the evening we saw the Opera House /which was stunning/ and crossed the Chain Bridge to go over to Buda...:) It had gotten dark by then and everything was so beautiful on both sides of the Danube...:) We wanted to have dinner in Buda but everything was closing early there so we got back to Pest and had delicious dinner at a lovely restaurant on Andrassy Avenue /unfortunately I can't remember its name but the foie gras with Tokaj wine I had there was simply amazing/...

The next morning we spent in Buda - we visited the Castle, the Fisheman's Bastion, the Matthias Church /my favourite sight in Budapest ever:)/, the Hospital in the Rock /it was Minnie's idea, of course:)/ and the Great Market Hall. We bought some souvenirs too, of course!:) I totally fell in love with mine - a letter opener in the shape of a medieval sword...:) The coolest thing ever!:) 

Then we had delicious lunch in Buda /at the same place where we wanted to have dinner the previous evening/. I tried boar meat with wine which was really yummy...:) Oh, and we noticed that the most expensive salad there was the Bulgarian Shopska salad, we felt very proud and happy!:)

We had arranged a meeting with my Hungarian pal Bea but unfortunately we were late so she had to leave as soon as we met...:( We couldn't even take a picture together, such a shame...:( I really hope we'll be able to have a proper meeting next time, though!:)

After our short meeting with Bea we saw the Heroes Square and walked around the City Park /Városliget/...:) It was so beautiful and peaceful there...:) And the Vajdahunyad Castle with its lake made us feel as if we had entered a fairytale...:) There was a Picnic Festival so we greatly enjoyed walking around the stalls and looking at all the interesting goods that were sold there...:) We got some 'lagos' with cheese to try and it was yummy /it was a bit like our 'mekitza' but way bigger/. We also had some delicious and refreshing home-made lemonade...:) Oh, and we tried some fried pork which was great /we prepare it in the same way in Bulgaria/!:)

Unfortunately we had to leave the following morning, those two days in Budapest were over too fast... The city has changed a lot since the last time I've been here in 1990 but it's still a magical place, full of history, culture, friendly people and delicious food!:) And it was so special to visit it together with my family!:) They all loved our trip so we'll definitely repeat it in the near future...:) 

We stopped for lunch in Serbia again, this time at Kafana Ivan in Niška Banja...:) Vanyo was very happy that the place had his name...:) All of us ordered different things /I chose roasted lamb/ and everything was super fresh and delicious!:)

We got home in Sofia in the evening of the Monday, May 23rd and spent the rest of the long weekend at home, simply relaxing...:) Oh, and a friend of ours came to build a roof above our terrace on the last day of the long weekend, May 24th...:) It's made of wood and the terrace looks so much better now...:) We bought garden furniture for the terrace from Ikea /four chairs and a table/ so when the weather is nice, we spend a lot of time there...:) It's great!:) And yes, I finally feel at home in Sofia...:)

The next weekend was full too...:) First, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the Saturday, May 28th...:) They had invited the four or us, my sister with her husband and their two daughters, my in-laws /mother-in-law and brother-in-law/ and my aunt /dad's sister/ with her husband. My cousins were invited too /with their girlfriends/ but unfortunately they couldn't come... We gathered at 'Riviera' - one of the best restaurants in Plovdiv...:) The food was delicious and it was great to catch up with everyone!:) 

And on the Sunday, May 29th, Vanyo had a birthday party with his friends...:) They gathered at the Laser Park in Bulgaria Mall and had lots of fun there...:) Vanyo got heaps of presents too!:) 

I've read two books in May - 'Eclipse' by Stephenie Meyer /I greatly enjoyed it, much more than the previous book of the series/ and 'Emma' by Jane Austen /it was a bit longer and not as good as 'Pride and Prejudice' but still a great book and I was happy to be a part of Jane Austen's world again...:)/.

June has been a quiet month so far... I've seen only one movie this month - 'Deadpool'. It was a bit weird, but still entertaining and funny...:)