Tag Archives: travel

Updates

Wow, so much happened in the last few days that I doubt can blog on all of it.

I experienced partying, city adventures, and exciting new exercise equipment all in the last three days. Here are the highlights:

A party with my best friends

A friend of mine was recently accepted in a prestigeous study-abroad program and we’re all thrilled. To celebrate, we threw a big party that began with card games (No, not a drinking game or poker. We played Belot, a card game that actually requires some thinking. Hardcore thinking for me, since I’m still learning all the rules and strategies, and trust me, there’s quite a few of them.) and ended in wild sweaty dancing to our very own Bulgarian folk music, that only a true Bulgarian can handle. I had a great time, even though I had to hide my tears at one point. So many good friends are leaving next year and I will really, really miss them.

Lost in Richmond, part 1

Yesterday we took a bus to Downtown Richmond to go to a sushi reataurant. On the bus ride we changed our minds and decided to go to an Ethiopian reataurant instead. Finally, we got off at the wrong stop, walked around downtown for a bit and ended up at another sushi place we had not known about, but they had great sushi and low prices. Everyone loved it, especially Mila and I. We never have a trip downtown where we don’t get lost, and we just love things not going according to plan. We have walked through more shady neighbourhoods then we would admit, and the thrill’s the same every time. Somehow, we always get lucky though and find a new great place to hang out at.

Lost in Richmond, part 2

While at the sushi place, I dropped my purse on the floor and a few item flew out of it under the dining table. I gathered most of them but I forgot to pick up my phone and left it at the restaurant. Of course, I found all about this when I was already back home, so Mila and I had to come back the next day and pick it up. Then we started looking for a place to have breakfast and coffee at and probably walked for twenty minutes in the cold until we found a Starbucks. Nothing like having a warm oatmeal and coffee in a cold rainy day! We spend a few hours just talking girl talk before we decided it’s time to finally go back home.

The new Expresso bikes at the gym

Our uni probably has the fanciest college gym in the whole country! A brand new addition to the eqipment are the new Expresso bikes which had me working out very hard in the last few days. Expresso bikes are a fusion between a stationary bike and a computer game. As you pedal, you move through a 3D graphic scenery, competing against a virtual pacer (whose difficulty you can adjust) and against ghosts (riders created from your previous workouts). You can also play a game in which you chase coins and dragons for points. The bike connects to the internet using a wireless rooter and  uploads the length, speed, calories burned, heart rate and other information for each ride. You can log in at www.expresso.net and track your progress.

I finally found a piece of exercise equipment I can enjoy. Exercise usually bores me, I strive to do  it because I have to, but it’s hard to do your best when you don’t enjoy something. My mind always needs something to do. I always eat when I’m reading if there’s no one to talk to. I watch TV shows (and by that I mean House, of course!) when I clean my room. I listen to music when I walk to classes. When I’m going to bed, I read or watch TV until total exhaustion, because otherwise my thoughts, suddenly left without focus, run in crazy circles until I get up and start walking around the room (walking helps me think) and then there’s not falling asleep till 5 AM. Even in my blog posts you can see the total lack of organization in my head, translated to lack of organization in the posts. I have a restless mind that just won’t shut up.

Which is why I find exercise a pain. I put on my earbuds and for five minutes I’m enjoying the music, the cardio routine and the gym environment. Then the seconds on the time monitor start going slower and slower. I try to take my mind away from the pain of exertion but there’s nothing I can focus on for longer than 30 seconds, so by the end of a lame 20-minute workout I have watched TV, listened to 40 seconds of each song in my playlist, rated every person in the gym on a hotness scale from 1 to 10, had a few ideas about short stories I’ll never have the time to write, and daydreamed about being a stationary plant that doesn’t need to train any muscles and photosynthesizes instead of worrying about its diet. And I’m still very, very bored.

On the bike it was a whole different story. First, I made it my goal to beat every single rider to the finish line, and to my surprise I rode faster than quite a few of them. Then again, I was on the basic level. I completed a 25-minute trail in 15 minutes and spent 15 more chasing dragons and gaining points on the interactive game. I decided I was done because of the amount of sweat, lack of breath, and burning sensation in my hips, not out of boredom. It felt really exciting, so I can’t wait to go to the gym tomorrow and try a different trail or some other game options.

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Korabli

Andy once jokingly asked me if I have a song to illustrate each different moment of my life. I do. I remember a song I like almost instantaneously and I go through life with a soundtrack playing in my head, like in the movies. Some emotion I’m experiencing or a phrase said by someone triggers it and the soundtrack starts playing. I even have songs associated with moments in my life that hasn’t happened yet or may hpefully never happen, such as getting married (The right man, Christina Aguilera) or staying in a psych ward (Lithium, Evanescence).

There’s a song I associate with leaving school and going back home, called Korabli (Ship) by the Russian singer of the 1960s and 1970s Vladimir Visotsky.

I like the guys voice, deep but with a barely audible obertone of sadness to it, and the song itself is somewhat melancholic. It reminds me of a time and place when artists cared a lot less what kind of music sells well, hence there were less boyish looking male singers and less songs about chillin’ in da club. The music and the lyrics are more personal and introspective.

My Russian’s wayyy too bad to translate all the lyrics of the song, but, basically, the guy sings of returning home ot his wife, friends and dreams. “I will finally return…, I will finally sleep” and there’s also a beautifully sad line that I can relate to: “I don’t believe in destiny and even in myself”.

I remembered this song since I’m about to go back home again, and I played it all day long. Does the man sound…tired? Or is it just me hearing my own weariness through the lyrics? In the last two and a half years I’ve traveled more than in all my life before I went to college, and sometimes…a lot of times, I feel tired. Tired of changing the place I live every few months, tired of dragging suitcases across the ocean, tired of meeting new people and never sticking around long enough to form the deep, selfless, lasting friendships. I miss having a home, though I left to start building a life of my own and a home of my own, and I’m sure will have that someday.

So I’m melancholic but excited to finally be going back home, and this time Andy will come visit and spend Christmas with me in Bulgaria. I anticipated it so much it scares me! So I play the song to soothe me and it somehow remind’s me it’s all real, and even though I don’t have a home to live in, I have a home to get back to. It’s what keeps me going through these last few days.

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Random shots from my last days in Edinburgh

As of Monday, I am done with finals. DONE! The last few weeks were painful to get through with projects, quizzes and exams to study for; I had no time for anything else. I literally spent all my time in my room revising fun stuff  like, ummm…. drugs used to treat hypertension and how they work. When I finifhed with my last exam I  went to bed and slept 28 hours. Now I have so much free time on my hands, I don’t know what to do with it 🙂

I’m using some of that time to upload photos from my lat few weeks in Edinburgh and sum up my last impressions from the city. Can’t believe it, but in only four days I’ll be leaving and this whole semester abroad experience will be over. There are so many things I’ll miss and a lot I’d rather forget about, and since I’m all about lists, scores and numbers, I have a top five chart of the best and worst things abour this Scottish city.

I’ll leave the great things for dessert and start with the top five things about Edinburgh I’d rather experience never again:

5. The weather: Man, it rains A LOT in here. How hasn’t this city sunk under water yet?

4. The organization: Or lack of it. Nothing gets done on time. No one knows what they’re doing and they don’t care. Good thing I didn’t care much as well, because there was little work to be done anyway.

3.The plumbing: Separate tabs for hot and cold water means you will either get second degree burns or lose a few fingers due to freezing when you wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.

2.The traffic: It was crazy. There was never a green light for pedestrians so every time you need to cross the street you say a little prayer and run… I’m still alive so I guess I’m lucky.

1. The lack of sunlight: This one’s a real problem, not a pet peeve for me. Not getting enough sunlight makes me lazy, cranky and depressed. During my last weeks here the sun would go up at 8 AM and it would be dark already at 4 PM. I’ve never been that far north before, so this messed up my already irregular cicardian rhythms and now I go to bed at 7 AM and wake up at 4-5 PM, seeing no sunlight at all. Great for partying, not so great for anything else. Let’s just hope my sleep schegule will get better quickly when I go back home.

Now with the good things about Edinburgh, which by large outweigh the bad:

5. The Ceilidhs: One thing you should definitely do if you ever visit Edinburgh (or any Scottish city for that matter) is go to a Ceilidh. It’s like a medieval dance party with lots of hopping around and goofy music. The University of Edinburgh held a few during its orientation week, and it was a fun way to meet new people. The dances are such that you exchange partners all the time and end up dancing with everybody in the room. If you have a hard time finding conversation starters, focus on the fact that you have no clue how to do the steps right. There’s a big chance that your dance partner won’t know what they’re doing as well, and in the end everyone just ends up bumping into each other. I had one dance partner swing me so hard I fell on the floor (no sexual connotation intended) and had to convince everybody in the room that I’m ok. I have high tolerance for public embarrassment and I LOVE dancing of any kind, so Ceilidhs were fun for me. Below is the best example I could find although the music is somewhat different  than the traditional one:

4. The Christmas village: It’s a Christmas market with various toys, food and awesome decoration that was set up a few weeks ago in the center of the city. They even have a Ferris wheel:

random-edinburgh-shots-017

3. The food: Healthy food here’s relatively cheap and easy to find.

2. Men in kilts: No comment on that one.

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1. The people: Really, I was surprised at how friendly, laid back and fun is everyone here. I met some great guys and gals and even strangers are polite in a very sincere way. I’ve seen more than my share of fake smiles and meeting people who are so genuinely friendly and nice was a bit unusual at first. People affect me so much that over the months I gradually changed from being guarded, cold and reserved to being more cheerful and friendly myself. I’ll miss a lot of folks here when I go back  home.

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