The end of the Belgian trip, the beginning of the Bulgarian adventure

Transitions are always a bit tricky, aren't they? In general, this one has been smooth. Two weeks ago, I was in Belgium, seeing scenes like these: 

I had a great time, telling stories, hanging around with my good friends, even learning how to take the intercity bus to a couple of schools, something I had rarely done in Belgium. Soon, though, it was time to leave. I got to the Brussels airport early, which I much prefer to late. Here's the front and back view of a laptop and phone charging station that had a different spin to it (pun intended): 

I flew from Brussels to Frankfort to Sofia. In Brussels, I noticed a man reading a Bulgarian book and then I heard him speaking Bulgarian to another traveler. It turned out we were seated next to each other on both flights! I'd changed my seats on the flights, so this was a strange serendipity. I joked that I really wasn't following them. 

In Sofia, my good friend Vesko was waiting for me. He drove me directly to his apartment, where his wonderful wife Lidia was ready with supper, a real Bulgarian welcome. We had lukanka (dry sausage), feta cheese sprinkled with paprika, homemade sauerkraut and pickled mushrooms (picked by Vesko and Lidia!) and rakia (liquor made of fruit) and raspberry juice to start, then giuvech (stew made with chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and spices) with bread. I know I'm forgetting a few other things. We ate and talked and talked. I've known Vesko and Lidia since 1988 and am always struck at how we pick up our conversation just where we left off last time.

The culinary welcome continued with a fantastic breakfast the next morning: banitsa (pastry with feta and egg in phyllo dough) and yoghurt with preserved wild blueberries. Oh, and Turkish coffee. Delicious!

Vesko had a surprise for me: he had recently come across an article I wrote in 1988, which he reworked so it could be published, as well as some letters I'd written to them in 1989, when I had left my job as a Slavic librarian for a post as a children's librarian. That's when I first started telling stories.

After breakfast, Vesko drove me to my new apartment in the center of Sofia, where we met George, the son of my landlady. At last, I'm home! That is, for the next five months.

I'll describe more in my next blog post.

Disclaimer: This is not an official Fulbright Program publication. The views expressed here are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.