Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Cats of Bulgaria = Nessebar

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sidewalk Level Stores

Walking along the streets in downtown Sofia you can't help but notice an interesting phenomenon. Many of the stores selling cigarettes and drinks are located slightly below ground level, with their lone window just above the sidewalk. To make purchases, you have to bend down and give your request to the shopkeeper. I guess a report that you bought something in Sofia "on the street" should be taken quite literally.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The End of Summer?

After a week of temperatures hovering in the mid 30's (C), and an extremely hot summer by Bulgarian standards, it seems that, overnight, summer ended and fall began.

Yesterday, we were sweltering in 36 C, and this morning, we woke up to temperatures in the low 20's. The wind was blowing and it was actually cold in the house. The 10 day forecast is for temperatures in the mid 20's, but going down to as low as 10 at night!

We just took a walk to the mall, and found that the whole park was covered with leaves that had blown off the trees overnight.

Although I'm happy to leave the really hot days behind, I think a gradual cooling down is the way to go, and not this overnight extreme change! I just hope that we stay in this range for a long time, and that winter will not be in a hurry to come.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Small Earthquake in Sofia

I didn't feel it at the office, but some of my coworkers reported feeling a slight shake. It didn't register very high at all, only 2.8 on the Richter scale, and earthquakes at that magnitude are usually not felt at all.

But according to the seismologist on duty at the Geophysics Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, “The earthquake was felt immediately below the feet of the Sofia citizens because the epicenter was located slightly south-east of the capital. It was felt strongly in the eastern and central part of the city and the maximum possible degree of impact has been 3 or 4,” he said.

Jodie, cooking in our apartment, also felt nothing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Top Ten Attractions of Sofia

From the Sofia Hilton website, a list of the Top Ten things to do in Sofia:

1. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

2. National Theater Ivan Vazov

3. Vitosha Blvd.

4. Clubbing in Sofia

5. Bulgarian Wine Tasting

6. National History Museum

7. Sofia National Opera

8. National Art Gallery & Ethnographic Museum

9. Vitosha Mountain

10. City Center Sofia Shopping Mall

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Cats of Bulgaria = Lovech

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scenes from the Pravets Lake

While Jodie stayed home, my company went on an overnight trip to Pravets, about an hour northeast of Sofia. We stayed at the RIU Pravets Hotel, a 4-star resort hotel and spa, located near one of Bulgaria's newest golf courses. Here are pictures of the scenic lake next to the hotel.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Cats of Bulgaria = Sofia Zoo

The Sofia Zoo, July 2010.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Cats of Bulgaria = Samuil's Fortress

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shimon Peres Visits Bulgaria

Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Sofia this week, and while we did not get a chance to see him, we can note some of the Bulgarian-Israeli friendship marked in this visit.

Bulgarian President Parvanov awarded Peres with Bulgaria's highest state distinction, the Stara Planina Order, First Degree. In his speech upon accepting the order, Peres extended his warm gratitude to Bulgaria for refusing to deport its Jews to the death camps during the Second World War, singling out Bulgaria as a "country that is exceptional among all countries."

According to the media, Peres said that the Bulgarian people should in turn receive an order - "for its humanity, its bravery, its standing up against the Nazi regime."

Peres was on an official visit to Bulgaria and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Cabinet members, and the Bulgarian Jewish community. Peres praised Bulgaria's role and potential in contributing to the peace process in the Middle East, saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recent visit to Sofia in mid-July is "no coincidence" with his own Bulgarian visit.

"There will be peace between Israel and the Palestinian people," Peres promised in his speech in the Sofia Synagogue.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Family Picture from Prague

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Sunny Sunday in Prague

The sun came out on our last day in Prague and we were able to stroll along the river, visit the Palladium Shopping Mall and make one more visit to the Old Town.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prague Castle

It rained on Saturday in Prague. When we got to the Prague Castle, we felt it was too cold for Daniela to enjoy herself, so some of our party headed back to the Old Town. Merav, Erez and I took a quick tour of the castle.

We bravely climbed the 287 very steep steps to the top of the South Tower for an amazing view over the city of Prague.

We met up not far from the famous Astronomical Clock for lunch.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Touring Prague with Daniela

We walked around Prague pushing our granddaughter's stroller and we took turns carrying her, on the Metro, and by foot. The pace was one an infant could enjoy, and we still managed to get to the famous sites, including the Charles Bridge.

Prague = the Jewish Quarter

This was our second visit to Prague (we had been there for our 25th wedding anniversary) but the first time the children had visited. On our first morning in the city we took a tour of the Jewish Quarter and the synagogues and visited the cemetery as well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Family Vacation in Prague

Our children came from Israel. We came from Bulgaria. We met up in Prague for a family vacation. Reut and Nir were there accompanied by our granddaughter Daniela. Merav was there as was Erez, who had just returned to Israel from a long stay in the States. It was a wonderful opportunity to reunite and see a beautiful city.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Cats of Bulgaria = Plovdiv

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Stone Wedding

The Eastern Rhodopes have a number of unique rock formations. The closest of these special rocks to Kardzhali is the Stone Wedding.

It seemed that the members of a wedding procession were stopped in their tracks and turned to stone.

And here are the bride and groom, adorned in their finest on the occasion of their wedding.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Perperikon, Thracian Holy Site on Top of a Mountain

The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon is located at the top of a high, rocky hill in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Climbing up Perperikon is a challenge, and we first went up this rock passageway which was not easy going.

Perperikon is considered to have been a sacred place, and perhaps it served as a royal palace as well. Could this have been the throne?

Below: More visitors ascend the rock passageway, only to learn that the way to the top of the mountain has been blocked. There must be another way to the summit!

We retraced our steps and followed a path through the forest which was not as difficult. Finally we reached the acropolis of Perperikon, with the remains of a tower at one end.

None of the guidebooks bothered to mention that the ascent to Perperikon is not easy. Luckily, we all made it to the top and back in good shape, but our muscles would ache the next day.

Below: The forest on our way back down.

Legend says that Alexander the Great received a prophecy at Perperikon. The mysteries of the ancient Thracian site may never be revealed, but archaeologists continue to dig there in search of the past. An interesting presentation about Perperikon can be found on its website.