Even before I arrived in Bulgaria, I knew its people would welcome me, as an old lady sat next to me talked to me for the whole flight (even though I clearly didn’t understand anything of what she was saying).
As I came into Sofia, I got my first feel of Eastern Europe and discovered a city where time periods interlace seamlessly. As I wandered around the city, I appreciated its multiple facets through lovely parks, grand buildings, and shaded squares. After seeing Bulgarian culture all afternoon, I finished my day by tasting it: I went to a local tavern to try local gastronomy. So, with a mind and belly full of Bulgarian discoveries, I went to bed ready for my next and final step: Kazanlak.
But it wouldn’t be that easy as the next day I struggle with my first culture shock. Indeed, it proved to be more complicated than I expected to take the right train when you are tired, can’t read Cyrillic and don’t understand Bulgarian. That’s how I spent three more hours than I had planned on in the train station. However, as I wouldn’t let myself be defeated, I was finally able to get on my way to Kazanlak. Going through the Balkan Mountains on this sunny spring day, I discovered beautiful landscapes I will never forget.
As I finally reached the Valley of Roses (just in time for the yearly festival), I had the feeling the next eight months would be as full of discoveries as the way to go there had been. Not one to stop at first impressions, I knew that, after overcoming a few more culture shocks, I would be ready to explore and grow.