My first impressions of Bulgaria – Maria Herman

Beautiful magical landscapes, untouched nature in harmony with cozy towns with red roofs, snow on the top of the mountains but flowering trees next to the houses. Bulgaria met me with its diversity and pleasantly surprised in many ways.

My name is Mariia, I recently turned 25 and I am from Ukraine. Life turned out in such a way that before my arrival to Bulgaria I had never been abroad before, so this trip definitely has already made an impression on me.

Before coming here I volunteered both in my native Kharkiv and in other cities of Ukraine and I always wanted to try taking part in volunteering projects abroad.

Before arriving to Bulgaria I knew very little about this country. Friends who were here before said that because I am fluent in Ukrainian and Russian I would be able to understand some words and phrases while listening to people. As it turned out Bulgarian is more difficult for me than I expected but even so it was no less interesting for me to hear it everywhere and to notice some familiar words.

Throughout my life I really liked the mountains but I never had an opportunity to visit them and certainly to live near the mountains. Before coming here I only saw on the map what the relief in Kazanlak looks like, so I knew that the town was surrounded by mountains. That was the reason why I was very excited and wanted to see everything by myself as soon as possible.

The road to my destination was very long and difficult for me. After travelling all over Ukraine and reaching the city in the west I had to cross Romania and only then I came to Bulgaria. Almost forty hours on the road without proper sleep were hard for me but even this did not stop me from enjoying all the beauty of the landscapes that I saw when I crossed the second border and finally ended up in Bulgaria. The train in which I had to go through the mountains turned out to be the most comfortable way of transportation during my whole journey, so it was the only place in which I could have a good rest.

The views from the window amazed me. Throughout the journey, mountains rose on the horizon and our train passed by untouched beautiful forests and rivers. The landscape looked more like a picture or photo than the actual view from the window. When our train reached the city of Stara Zagora I was again very impressed but this time by how suddenly such a large and beautiful city appeared in the middle of forests and deserted nature.

Once I arrived to Kazanlak I had to get used to the fact that this town is surrounded by mountains and because of this from almost any point a beautiful landscape is visible on the horizon. I still can’t imagine how it’s possible to get used to seeing such beauty every day.

I came to Bulgaria just at my favorite time of the year – the time when the trees are in bloom. Passing by train places in the mountains where there was still a lot of snow I could not imagine that in Kazanlak itself even despite the cool weather trees were already blooming everywhere and the scent of real spring was in the air. I was very happy to see so many flowers around. Kazanlak surprisingly manages to combine the liveliness of the pretty cozy town and at the same time such closeness to nature.

Already on the spot I had to meet two other volunteers, girls who had been in Bulgaria for two months already. They welcomed me very warmly and shared with me their impressions and experiences. During their time here they got to know the town well enough to show me great places like parks, restaurants, favorite coffee shops and so on. They immediately introduced me to one of the coffee shop’s owner who also turned out to be Ukrainian. I was pleasantly surprised and very happy to meet someone from my country here even in such a small town.

Walking the streets after I’ve already met many people I immediately noticed that many Bulgarians have the ability to enjoy the present moment and to relax. For me it was unusual but very nice to see that people here understand the importance not only of work but also the importance of resting and being present in the current moment.

A few days after my arrival on one of the sunny days we along with the rest of the volunteers managed to go to Mount Buzludzha. Initially we were afraid that it would be very cold at the top but surprisingly it was quite warm there although there still was some snow. From the top there was an extensive view of the town and other close mountains. Seeing such a large open space was breathtaking.

I spent only a week in this place but I’ve already managed to meet wonderful people who are always ready to help. I managed to see beautiful places that I had only seen in the photo before, I tried new food, learned a lot of new words in Bulgarian and was surprisingly that many of them sound one to one like Ukrainian ones. Also I took part in several very small, but very important events that are aimed at making the life of people here better.

During this project I am definitely waiting for a lot of new impressions, a lot of new acquaintances and a lot of different experiences. I am very excited about the upcoming events and many new things that I have to see and do. I want to get the knowledge from other people who live here as well as to share my own.

Maria Herman

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