“Pining for the fjords?!”

In which I talk about Norway BUT don’t be fooled, this is actually about me.

I’d like to say that there’s some sort of fate or twisting destiny or like a safety net for circus performers w/r/t my life, but despite this, I still don’t believe it. Sort of like I probably don’t believe in a higher power but now’s not the time to discuss this.

I got back from Bulgaria on Tuesday night and stayed up until 4am trying to decide if I should go to Cornwall or Oslo the next day, for three days. Cornwall was out because all reasonable accommodations were booked. Although it would’ve been wildly expensive, I seriously considered booking the trip to Norway because it looked beautiful and clean and everyone has that secret impression that the majority of Scandinavia is run in an efficient, crime-free, maybe even Metropolis-like manner. All for the greater good; all for the safety of the people.
Of course we know this isn’t true now– Norway is still, in every way, part of the “real world” with drugs and death and sexkjøpsloven. And now terrorism, although I’m fairly sure there are better places in the world to bomb. (My blog’s going to get flagged by some EU Lord Protectorate because I just said that. Chill your fanny out.) Anyway, all this means I got some tweets being like 140-characters of “omg I’m so glad you didn’t gooo.” That’s not to say these messages weren’t thoughtful but Norway’s statement was awesomely touching:

You won’t destroy us. You won’t destroy our democracy. We are a small but proud nation. No one can bomb us to silence. No one can scare us from being Norway. This evening and tonight, we’ll take care of each other. That’s what we do best when attacked.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/22/norway.explosion/index.html?iref=BN1&hpt=hp_t1
At least CNN has a better grip on it than BBC.

Really this was supposed to be a gratitude-filled “my life v. adventure” but somehow inside it’s twisted to “my life v. my valuables” while I news-scan and wonder how I’ll ship home my tea  mugs and maybe I’ll try mailing them by post but it’ll be wildly expensive. I’m 41% of the way through Infinite Jest and I can’t even look at people in the street. I’m also eating a leftover doner kebab for a 9am breakfast, so that would alter your intake in some dangerously chemical way. I accidently just bit my own finger.

Last night at the Wickham, we were discussing my impending “real life” future, beginning on my return to the States late Monday. On the topic of getting a job, James mentioned my blog offhand in a way that said he thought I was going to send it to a publisher.
If I polished it up, do you think I–?
Deep down, I’m a person much like any other who would be really interested in some audience interaction. One can only talk to oneself for so long and I haven’t felt this batshit since I dove headfirst into House of Leaves for a second time. In spite of my onionskin-like Narkiewicz Complex (I almost footnoted this, but JESUS,) which allows us to find ourselves more interesting than other people while we peel our own layers back… At the end of the day, it’s still just me. Sittin’ in London. Eatin’ a moist pitta filled with mystery meat and chilli sauce. Still wishin’ I went to Norway because I’m clearly indestructible.

Reverse the Jelly Baby of the Neutron Flow

I interrupt my whinging and Bulgarian ethnic slurs to bring you news of this out-of-this-world experience: The Doctor Who Experience, to be exact. Also, seeing Dr Faustus at the historic Globe Theatre last night, which would otherwise be unrelated.
THIS TIME, IT’S NOT.

Originally, I learned about it when I was in Cardiff and saw a sign on an area map that there was a Doctor Who tourist trap near the Torchwood set/Millenium Centre. When Karen and I were in the area, we couldn’t find it. The signs were there, but the exhibition itself was not. When we got back to the hostel, I learned that it had been dismantled and moved as of April 1st. Crushing disappointment.

Yesterday, since I decided to spend the next 3-4 days left in London (more on this later, too) I needed to figure out something to do beyond sitting on the couch and watching shit BBC3 TV. I got the bright idea to check what was on in The Globe, and then I got distracted by reading about some article explaining how H&M can get away with stealing so many prints from, like, Anna Sui or Diane von Furstenberg, which actually doesn’t interest me in the least. While on this page, it was hard not to notice a blinking advertisement that said “CAN YOU FLY A TARDIS?” The rest is history… It was showing at the Olympia 2 in Kensington. I booked a “Silver Package Adult Ticket” for 12pm on Friday where I get a tour and a whole bunch of fun stuff included (lanyard, signed certificate, poster, book, etc.) WEE.

 I left here at 10:30am because I was so nervous about getting there on time. (It was fine. St Johns to Cannon Street, District Line to Kensington (although I got off at the wrong Kensington and had to hoof it from there.)) I knew I was in the right spot when I saw a TARDIS lurching out of the side of the Olympia like some weird crash site. The guys in the reception area knew immediately that I was there for the exhibition (because nothing else was going on) and I even went into an elevator with, like, a real bellboy/elevator man.
There’s a mini walkthrough with the sets from the Hungry Earth/Cold Blood episodes. I took a picture of two frightened schoolgirls in exchange for them taking a picture of me with a Silurian. The old gentleman who was the main chaperone was hilarious and we ended up bonding over the Weeping Angels. That sounds weird. You know what else is weird? Hearing ten-year old children yelling “I WANT TO SEE THE WEEPING ANGELS. AND DALEKS! EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE, SEEK AND DESTROOOOYYYYYY.” It gave my heart like a deep cardiac plunge of joy to hear this stuff. To make it even better, I was the only ticketholder for 12pm who wasn’t a member of this large school group, so I pretended I was with them for over half an hour. As a result, I got to touch some stuff and linger longer in some areas. After a while, they figured out I wasn’t with them. Still.

We watched this pre-simulation video from Matt Smith about the crack in the Universe, which ROTATED ON THE SCREEN and the screen split vertically to let you walk into the Starship UK set. Whilst we don our “radiation goggles,” Matt Smith comes on the screen again and explains the dilemma he’s in as THE TARDIS MATERIALIZES IN FRONT OF US. I mean, it was hidden behind a gauzy screen but I was standing next to a Smiler the whole time and wanted to get the hell out of there. Thus, we walked through the TARDIS policebox doors and into one of the actual sets of the interior with an actual TARDIS console that beeped and booped and had a moving floor to simulate flight/disaster. The mock-dilemma escalates in mock-emergency because we were under a Dalek invasion, so we literally ran into the next room, me feeling as excited and young as these shrieking ten year-olds. In the next room, though, I was standing near a wall where an animatronic Dalek just came out and pointed at me to scan our brains. You watch the TV show and wonder how something that looks like an overturned bin with knobs on it could possibly destroy the whole of the Universe, but when this Dalek pointed its little plunger-and-whisk combo at me, I almost shit my pants. Of course the Doctor saves the day, and then the staff realized I wasn’t with the school group, so I had to go my own way onto the last of the exhibit.

Here, there were really valuable pieces from the entirety of Doctor Who, including the ENTIRE Doctor wardrobe with models, dating back to 1963. I almost reached out to touch Tom Baker’s scarf and David Tennant’s trench coat. Almost. I didn’t want to get kicked out. An American guy took a picture of me with a Matt Smith wax figure and I took a picture of him with the row of Daleks. His iPhone had a TARDIS screen on it, to give you an idea of the fandom surging around the memorabilia in this room. Some kids were playing in the shell of a Dalek and I was taking MySpace-like pictures of myself with the gasmask little boy a la ARE YOU MY MUMMY. There were models of Slitheen, Judoon, Oods, some other things I’ve never even watched yet.

The gift shop was unreal. As I later told Liz, I nearly bought lifesize cardboard cutouts of the TARDIS or a Weeping Angel, but checked myself. 1) I can’t fit them in my suitcase and 2) if we ever had an apartment together, a Weeping Angel is the last thing you want to see in the dark when it’s 4am and you wake up really needing a pee. So I bought some Dalek expandable towels and a Cyberman mask for myself instead of blowing dozens of pounds on DVD sets, comics, books, Adipose stress-relief dolls, reproduction Sonic Screwdrivers, or Dalek bubble bath.
It was truly amazing. Despite my utter devotion, though, I felt weird walking around Kensington by myself, clutching a big white bag that said DOCTOR WHO EXHIBITION on the side. I walked into a Sainsbury’s and bought chicken breasts and avocados just to have one of the orange Saino’s bags to cover my purchases. Dumb.

This all brings me strangely roundabout to the Globe last night, where I finally saw my first stage production of Dr Faustus instead of having to read it or– Lucifer forbid– read it out loud in a class of freshmen. I had the utmost pleasure in seeing the role of Mephistopheles acted by none other than Dr Who’s companion Rory, Arthur Darvill (“in real life.”) It’s like the role was written for him. Imagine Darvill as Roman Centurion Rory in his grief and rage as he shoots Amy, and that was EXACTLY how Mephistopheles was portrayed. Darvill went the route of utter remorse and frankly looked like some brooding Conor Oberst of the Underworld with the arms folded, leaning against a pillar and trudging to do Faustus’ biddings. It was hilarious, but it was also really powerful to watch this guy who played the most wishy-washy whipped Dr Who companion become a screaming demon in a doublet and enormous shoes.
Faustus was quite good without being too obnoxious, although I think he giggled a bit too much. Robin was also really good. I didn’t think his character was all that funny in the text, but the actor definitely clowns very well.
Darvill looked up into my balcony and I thought I’d faint from the tortured look on his face.
The spectacles of the play were amazing, with these dragons carcasses and furred demons on stilts. To my complete delight, the last spectacle consisted of the entire cast manipulating these bloody dead bodies being tortured in hell, and Mephistopheles and Faustus were playing rock renditions of the song ON THE LUTE.
HURRR.

I was sitting next to three Californians in the middle gallery, second row. The guy only started talking to me after I’d had a moderately-priced-but-still-revolting-Budweiser (or maybe I talked to him first because of that.) He said they run their own outdoor theatre company in California, yet he couldn’t remember the name to The Two Gentlemen of Verona after he described the plot to me. I told him about The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski but he stared at me blankly for a bit until the bell rang for the end of intermission. He couldn’t understand what I was doing there and where I was from, whether Central Jersey, North Jersey and did I permanently move to England? I think he was a bit slow in that Californian way.
Also, there were two high school-aged tour groups there, one from China and one from Italy.
The leader of the Italian tour group sat next to me during my solitary beer and tried to soothe her charges. “Gianna, do you like the play so far?” And this girl Gianna, whatever, stereotypical Italian name said, “Yes, but my English is not good enough. I do not understand everything.” The teacher lady just shrugged and, I guess, comforted her with “Neither do I. I don’t understand a lot of it because it’s not really English.”
I was like, OF ALL REMARKS TO MAKE WHILE SITTING NEXT TO ME. Let it flow over me and yell in my head “WTF, WHY ARE YOU–, ARE YOU–, HUHHHHHH.” At least they have the sense to try and enjoy it rather than to, like, talk on the phone or clip their toenails the whole time. Which I saw others do. Talk on the phone, I mean.

Overall, I’m pleased with the collective £60 I spent on a most excellent 24 hours of enlightening endeavors.

in-, ineluct-, ineluctable modality of the visible

I’m falling prey to crippling self-consciousness in terms of the quality and form of my posts this time in Europe. I accidentally started reading a 2008 post from when I was 11-days-into my First European Debut. The writing doesn’t even sound like me, and I don’t mean that in embarrassment or wistfulness.
Whatever I’ve been reading or doing or saying in the past two years has completely ruined my structure. So I think.

This is and isn’t about you.

I feel like I have people to please above and beyond myself, when my much-hated, tough-love grammar professor surprised me by saying I should do an official travelogue. How many Anglophones can say they get to go on an insider’s tour of Bulgaria?
But I’ve been giving broad strokes and not so much impressions.
This is like painting for the blind.

You can wear my shoes, I can have your hair. 

An American in Bulgaria: Day Four

Day Four: Sunday June 26th, 2011.

Although we went to bed when the sun rose, we felt guilty when we woke up at 1pm.

We basically farted around the apartment, watching a Steven Seagal movie (which is weird, because an advertisement just came on TV about him as I type this.) (It’s also funny on a separate level because the deep and ultimate question is on my banner: is it really and truly OKAY to watch Steven Seagal movies AND are they FILMS?)
We did our nails with Mama Ves, aka her mom, who kept asking what we were going to do that day but really wanting to know if we were going to party some more.

Zhas and I got in the car for what turned out to be my first Bulgarian Mall Experience. Here in my notebook, I wrote <<“We bought a couple of partsalki” (sp?)>> and I honestly don’t remember what this means. I tried googling ‘partsalki’ with limited success. If I don’t remember, it can’t be that important.

I saw a whole bunch of fascinating things, including a little kids’ caterpillar-shaped train and small children floating inside plastic bubbles in a real pool. IT BLEW MY MIND. I drew a picture of it in the notebook, but I didn’t have my camera on me when we saw this wonderful things. My only concern is their limited supply of oxygen, otherwise I’d say to leave those kids in their all day.
http://cache.virtualtourist.com/3109821-Kids_in_Bubbles-Beijing_Shi.jpg

I also braved the registers and purchased some stuff for myself at Zara, Bershka, some knockoff Armanic perfume shop, etc. where my American accent met with various reactions: crankiness, amusement, surprise, downright rudeness. Whatever.

We went to the other mall to meet up with Veso and the girls, which somehow felt really awkward, and was even more awkward when we decided to go bowling. All of us are pretty competitive; Bulgarian lanes also have no concept of using bumpers so we had to actually play for real. I came in second-to-last. Whatevs, penultimate ain’t so bad, particularly when you use the word ‘penultimate.’

We parted ways, Veso and the girls going back to the villa for whatever, whereas Jujka and I went to Godzila by the sea for pizzas. With beer, airan, and shopska salata, I also had a ham, mushroom and pickle pizza. It was almost unfair, how awesome this part of the night was, because we were supplied free entertainment across the street in Punta Cana. Apparently Sunday is Latin-dancing night so we ate our pizzas while watching these unreal salsa dancing people who kept switching partners after every couple of songs. It was sort of like a really beautiful swingers night where all the guys just look flat-out gay.

And then, of course, because we can’t resist to party a little bit, we met up with everyone again at Cubo to celebrate two separate birthdays: Sasho and Zlatev, who we will come to know very well in the coming days. OH FORESHADOWING.
Anyway, this is the first time I said “Milka Chocograins” out loud in mockery of the weird Bulgarian commercial. The guys thought it was the funniest thing that ever happened and nearly pissed themselves. More mojitos (complimentary, in honor of the birthdays) and then we were off for some munchies at Subway. Bulgarian Subway: new experience.
Veso ended up eating four McDonald’s cheeseburgers, one 6-inch sub, half of another sub, and then an ice cream cone. Zhas and I split a 6-inch “Beibe Puyeshko” which boggled my mind. If everything is metric, why are the sandwiches in inches?! EXPLAIN.  I would also like to note that McDonald’s around the world have specialized foods to cater to local palates: Germany has beer; France has wine; Guam has spam; and apparently the Philipines have spaghetti. Bulgarian McDonald’s (which looks a bit like mkgohalgks in the Cyrillic script) has a sandwich called the McZorba, which features some type of grilled meat, cucumber and feta. Sounds good, though I never got to try it.

All in all, a fine night and a rest from the excessive partying.
JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU READ ABOUT MONDAY.

An American in Bulgaria: Day Three

Day Three: Saturday June 25th, 2011.

We woke up early in Veso’s parents’ room of the villa, feeling better than expected out on the balcony. We had leftover breakfast with everyone outside on the patio and then the reality of the DEADLIEST HANGOVER EVER set in. Was it worth it being the greatest American ever?
No.
Perversely, I made a positive impression with everyone on behalf of America but I also thought I’d vomit all over Kabakum Beach. While I curled into a ball on the sand, everyone else watched the Formula races, ate tsatsa, and drank ayran or tarator. Finally the wind and the clouds broke and we went back to our respective domiciles with the intentions of meeting up later that evening.

Back at Zhas’, her dad gave me an aspirin and a thumbs up and I recovered many hours after the fact. We went downstairs to her brother’s flat to celebrate Mary’s birthday with the grandparents. (I had showered, to which her brother said “Why did you shower? It’s not a holiday.”) We watched Mitko and Mary’s wedding photos while we nibbled on this really interesting cake… Like a thin cake filled with jam and raisins/assorted fruits, and then rolled and covered with cream. It oozed when you tried to eat it so, effectively, it was super delicious. Everyone kept offering me various types of alcohol and I had to refuse like a broken record. All in good spirits of course. (Hawhaw, see what I did there.)

We walked around Primorska Garden and saw so many weird and interesting things… There was a carnival in the center of everything, completely lit and running but with no one there. Carousel, mini golf, paddle boats, a row of coin-operated cartoon-shaped riding-things.

While being harrassed by drunk men in a mineral spa on the side of the road, we walked to Sardinia (restaurant, not the island) where we met everyone for mussels and/or pizzas. It was good. Not much to say about that, really.
We walked down the seaside street to Cubo and I lost an earring. Unimportant. Cubo is basically a massive tent on the sand, with chairs and umbrellas and loud music. I had two pretty epic mojitos.
You’re supposed to pay one lev to use the toilet, but no one was there at the door so I walked right in… to what I thought was the men’s room. Why? Because there were NO TOILETS. Perplexed, I stood in the stall and waited until I heard the sound of two other girls coming in and doing their business into the holes in the ground. I wish I could show you my notebook, because I drew a small model of the hole in the ground, complete with rubber anti-slip grips. Point being I PEED INTO A HOLE IN THE GROUND. And on that note, it was time to go to the club.

Xtravaganzza is essentially a warehouse filled with three separate bars, walls lined with shelves to hold drinks, and lots and lots of drunk Bulgarians. You can also smoke inside, but they must be one of the few places in Bulgaria with a ventilation system, because that much of smoke in an enclosed space would leave anyone blind for two days. (We did, upon later notice, discover that we smelled TERRIBLE re: sweat, alcohol, and smoke.)
Because there were about ten of us, we bought two bottles of Bushmills whiskey and like 20 cans of Coke. The music was good and we had our own table up front next to the DJ booth. What I wasn’t prepared for was the ‘showtime’ that kicks off at midnight. A couple dozen half-dressed writhing young ladies on a stage above our head. After that, they sort of tag-teamed each other and dance couples came out: either two girls or a girl and this guy. And THIS GUY was probably the most flamboyant dancer of all time. We watched him literally dance with his own shadow until he noticed Kim mocking him.
I don’t know.
Veso does a pretty good impression of him.

We kept it up to chalga and left around 4:30am because I kept going “OHMYGOD I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW LATE IT IS.” When we got back to Zhas’s flat, we stood in the kitchen and raided the fridge for a literal feast of meats/cheeses. Sated, we retired to our sleeping quarters and prayed to not feel sick the next day. PARTYYYY.

An American in Bulgaria: Day Two

Day Two: Friday June 24th, 2011.

She said typewrite
Sad and all I had
She said circles in squares ain’t bad

As I said, I woke up laughing at being in Bulgaria. Exotic!

Breakfast was about as ridiculous as dinner the night before. We had the cheeses, meats, strong coffee, banichki, milinki and boza. Banichka and milinka are dough-based pastries, a bit tart or sour like a natural yogurt taste. Boza is a fermented wheat drink with a low alcohol content that tastes like Cream of Wheat and looks like sewer water. WIKIPEDIA FUN FACT: “In Bulgaria it is part of the traditional ‘Banitsa with Boza’ breakfast. Although a popular beverage, boza is used to describe something (film, piece of music, etc.) to be bland, boring, and of low quality.”
 

Our plan was to go to the beach but before that, we needed your typical supplies. We walked to the corner store (there’s WHITE POWER graffiti on the wall) and I felt really Anglophonic in there. I didn’t want to speak too loudly to give away my foreignness, but HOLY CRAP, there were such cool products in there that Adam would’ve loved the packaging.

Zhas drove to a beach further North than Varna’s city beaches because we wanted to sneak into the resorts.  We were concerned about parking behind the bus stop because the Bulgaria cops were hanging out there. While one chatted on his phone and another talked to a lost couple, we awkwardly stood there. He spoke to me as if I knew was he was saying, so I nodded a lot and smiled. We got a thumbs up and we crept through a hole in the fence into the resort territory where the poor Europeans go on vacation.

It was a beautiful day for the beach: sunny, breezy, not a cloud in the sky, no waves. The water was the clearest and cleanest I have ever seen in my life, which I shall continue to use as a standard for excellence. The two of us lounged on the beach or floated on the pink floaty raft thing. I sketched the pier and wrote a bit when, hours later, a group of friends and acquaintances stopped by around 3pm.

“I don’t deserve to be here. I graduated college as an average student with minimal distinguising qualities and now I’m in Europe. I find myself being driven around the backstreets of an antiquated country in a stick-shift, listening to chalga and dodging gypsies.
We just started playing volleyball with a new group of friends, which I understand to be Veso, Mitko, Jessie, Kim and another person whose name eludes me. I’d like to brush up on my Bulgarian grammar and not sound like a precocious two year-old, but this is more interesting.”

Zhas and I got ready for a dinner held later at Veso’s villa somewhere out of the central part of town. The house was a huge spectacle on a crazy narrow road. Mostly I felt pretty awkward at the beginning because I only knew Zhas, the guys were at the grill (skara) or else they were in the kitchen chopping vegetables.
As we opened some bottles of Bulgarian beer and peeled potatoes, Zhas and I experienced an awkward pre-dinner conversation with the two American girls. This Bulgarian beer, by the way, was Stolichno– a really strong black sludge. This was a starter for the epic dinner that ensued…

The table sat 7-12 people at varying times for shopska, handmade fries (ow hot oil,) “steaks” (highly Vegeta-seasoned pork(?)) various salads (Russian, Picadilly, tsatsiki) and 1.5 litres of homemade rakiya in a plastic lemonade bottle. I felt like I had something to prove so by the end of the night, I was sitting on the grass and shouting “DAI ME RAKIYA” like a champion. It really wasn’t a good idea, because I was eating sour cherries off the backyard trees before dragging myself upstairs to the room Zhas and I commandeered.

Hopefully I didn’t snore, but we’ll get to what I DID do tomorrow…

Lessons learned:
-Not only smart people go to Harvard.
-“ox” Harvard students.
-Do not mix beer and rakiya.
-Don’t do it.

An American in Bulgaria: Day One

Day One: Thursday June 23rd, 2011. Two weeks ago.

And you think you’re a guest
You’re a tourist at best
Peering into the corners of
My dark life.

I got up early to take the train to Luton, which sort of sucked. Getting to Luton, I mean… It wasn’t that early. Luton is a funny airport, and by ‘funny,’ I mean ‘complete shit.’ I sat around for two hours with a bunch of disgruntled American bikers (complete with bald eagle tattoos) and drank scalding cappucinos. The woman at the bureau de change was named Natasha and wanted to know how long I’d be in Bulgaria for and if I was going by myself. She advised that I look after myself. Still don’t know what to make of her.
Here begins an excerpt from one section of my notebook.

“It is with great trepidation that I walk around Luton– this airport sucks and it doesn’t make any sense. I’m also really nervous that I’m going to die in Bulgaria and no one will know except for my brother. And Facebook. I teared up on the bus from Luton Parkway and I realised it’s because I was sad to leave England, even though I also know I’m coming back. Duh. But holy crap, talk about facing the unknown… I have nothing to my knowledge except for that which I’ve gleaned from Eastern European tourbooks in East Brunswick library which only mention Bulgaria in passing.
Two points of irony:
1) I’m leaving England on the nicest day we’ve had so far: sunny, mild, NO RAIN.
2) The food I chose to buy for an early lunch was a feta salad, which is retarded because shopska salata is literally going to be served every day, or so I hope. I also bought grapes and a stick of delicious Wensleydale for £1,50 so there’s that too. I like food.
[…]
I just opened the door of the plane toilet because it was green and said VACANT and a Bulgarian woman hastily hiked up her oversized panties. I shouted SAZHALIAVAM at her and closed the door. This sort of thing happens from time to time…? On the inside of the door, the sign for locking is in English and Polish but what kind of retard doesn’t lock the door?!
The plane ride was spent reading the WizzAir inflight magazine in English and Polish, looking at the Alps we flew over, and trying to ignore the smell of the feet of the woman next to me. She took off her shoes for the 3-4 hours. Ick.

After one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever experienced, the majority of the plane clapped and cheered. ‘New experience?’ I thought simultaneously with ‘What the fuuuuhhhh?’ I think I had the ‘white people grin’ on my face as we were transported from the tarmac into Varna airport itself. It had to be at least 85ºF.
Zhas was waiting for me at Arrivals and I’m pretty sure we both had a moment like “IS THIS REAL LIFE?”

The majority of her family lives in the same building on this crazily narrow street. I was introduced to her father and her grandparents with what seemed like a great success. Having only learned it the night before, I did my best to stammer out “I’m pleased to meet you” which incidentally is one of the most complicated sentences ever. Her grandparents are the cutest people ever and her dad is not only great, but EXCELLENT.

Dinner was an enormous affair of mixed nuts, meats, cheese, and multiple salads all over the table. Lukanka, soujouk, chicken filet, two types of feta, kashkaval, olives, Shopska salata, Russian salad, rakiya, orange juice, tropical juice, soda, chianti, dessert wine, etc… And then Mama Ves was like, “Ok, entree time = chicken with mushrooms and gravy!” I learned that the word for ‘mushroom’ (‘guba’) is also the word for ‘sponge.’ After that, there was ice cream cake to finish it off.

Despite feeling like the fattest person in the world, I wanted to go out and see Bulgaria’s Thursday night-life. We walked out the building and into the streets of Varna, to my general disbelief. Actually, it was pretty deserted but there were fair amounts of people by the seaside. I think my first impression was a not-quite-lucid “Shiiiiiit.” We stopped at a place called Punta Cana, although I couldn’t remember the name of it until the next time we would be around there… Anyway. We sat down on a covered couch with curtains right by the sea and I encountered my first entirely Bulgarian menu. Luckily, I can read the Cyrillic and a lot of the alcohol has the same name. (Gin is spelled sort of like ‘djin’ because there’s no j sound.)
The two of us ordered what turned out to be gross cocktails– mine was a big gay colorful cocktail of rum and cherries. Zhas had an icky drink with Drambuie in it because we didn’t know what it tasted like and neither did the waitress. We toasted to being in Bulgaria and I watched the sea change colors under the lights of the chalga/barbecue tavern place next door.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, but I woke up the next day, laughing.