On Thursday after we left the director’s office we headed directly for the Varna airport to return to Sophia. Varna is actually the second or third largest city in Bulgaria (there’s debate over whether Sofia and its neighboring city are one city or two), home to about 1 million people. In the summer it is extremely busy because it is a vacation destination (guess coastal cities tend to be that way!) but in the winter the hotels and restaurants along the coast are rather empty. In the winter there is about one flight to/from Sofia but in the summer there are more (at a higher price of course). So, to make a long explanation longer, we had one chance to get back to Sofia and that was a departing flight at 12:30pm.
The flight was an uneventful 50 minutes where we actually nodded off a bit right after take-off, mostly from emotional exhaustion. We landed in Sofia, caught a taxi and picked up the keys to our apartment for the next two nights. After dropping off the luggage, Rosi oriented us to where we were (still on the main road like the last apartment, Vitosha Street, but a bit further down the street from downtown). We parted ways with Rosi and then we headed to nice traditional Bulgarian restaurant near the apartment for a 3pm late lunch! We drowned our sorrows in a nice, refreshing Bulgarian beer (Zagorka I think), and fed them with some roasted red peppers covered in tomato sauce (delicious) interesting pizza and a mixed bowl, which I’m pretty sure ended up to be a bowl of mostly cheese (time for a cholesterol check after this trip!).
We decided to head for a walk towards downtown and went past a large Russian church in the center (right by the courthouse - where VESTA will, by power of attorney, represent our adoption case to the judge over the next few months).
On a roll and lacking many souvenirs or future gifts for the kids we kept walking to the City Market and then on to the “Woman’s Market” which is an outdoor flea market with lots of produce and clothes. We had read to be weary and were later told that even Rosi is a little frightened to go there..hmmmm. BUT, we were smart with placement of things and honestly didn’t find it scary at all. We bought a little traditional bell (often worn around the waist in ceremonial dress) which will serve as our Christmas ornament (which we like to collect from each place we visit).
At the market they even had an outdoor store with about 12 wooden barrels of wine. You can bring your own container (people were lined up with large water bottles, etc) and fill it up with the wine of your choosing!
We’ll digress here for a minute to explain a holiday here called Martinista (we’ll check the spelling on that) which is on March 1st to celebrate the coming of spring and is quite a large celebration. The city becomes adorned with white and red ‘yarn dolls’ of different shapes/sizes. The traditional one is a boy and girl doll, which we bought in a couple sizes. This is a holiday we’d like to celebrate with the kids, just a fun way to celebrate the arrival of spring (which honestly in Florida may be a little hard to differentiate). Even though the holiday is over and there isn’t much evidence left we were able to find the dolls and some bracelets people wear hanging throughout the city.
On the way back from the Woman’s Market (with legs feeling numb by this point) we stopped for a quick chicken gyro and headed back for some rest.