Hello! Just thought I'd give you a little update on what has been going on this weekend.
On Saturday, myself (Todd), Kathleen, Jon, and Jessica took a road trip to see the Valley of the Roses and its annual Rose Festival. We woke up early and headed out, excited for the day. As we got closer to our destination, we could smell the fragrant scent of the roses. Once we got to the city, we walked around, looking at the different booths that were set up, selling rings, Bulgarian pottery, and all kinds of rose-scented lotion. It was a lot to take in, but eventually we wanted to see the roses, so we walked out of the town to see the roses.
We were expecting to see rows and rows of colorful roses, but instead we were greeted by rose bushes with the occasional pink rosebud hanging on them. A little disappointed, we decided to get in our car and drive out further to see if we could see more roses. We did this, but soon realized that the Valley of the Roses was not quite as magical as we thought. So, we decided to head home, taking a little detour at the city of Plovdiv along the way. Before we got to Plovdiv, however, we saw a shiny building nestled into the top of a city. Intrigued, we decided to explore it and ended up stumbling onto a beautiful orthodox city sitting at the top of a village. It was a breathtaking building and well worth the short detour.
After that, we went to Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, and a beautiful city to behold. There were many trendy looking shops and restaurants, and Jon and I explored some ancient Roman ruins. It was a lot of fun, but after a few hours, we were happy to be back on the road and headed towards Sofia. Overall, it was a great Saturday, filled with lovely sights, smells, and conversations.
Today, after church, me and Jon decided that we wanted to walk back to the Metro stop, rather than ride back by car. We were feeling adventurous. We were feeling good about the idea until we suddenly realized that we had no idea where we were going. We asked someone for directions, and that only seemed to make us more lost. Eventually, while we were walking along, a woman asked me what time it was. Intent on finding our way home, I nearly ignored her. But I turned back and showed her my watch, unsure of my ability to tell her the time in Bulgarian. My concerns were unnecessary, as she spoke English. After asking us several questions (How do you like Bulgaria? Are you students? etc.), I eventually asked her if she knew where our Metro stop was. She told us that, as a matter of fact, she was going to Alexander Nevski, the largest church in Sofia, which happens to be located near our Metro stop.
As we walked along, we learned more about this woman. Her name is Kate; she has traveled a lot, especially in western Europe; and she speaks multiple languages. She even gave me some advice: learn German! Eventually, we reached our Metro stop, and she reached the church, running up to the building and finding her way in while we walked towards the Metro. It was quite the adventure for us. A simple walk turned into a nearly 2-hour excursion through the city. And if we have learned anything in the three weeks we have spent here, it is the importance of patience and the willingness to let unexpected things happen. Often, the most beautiful adventures are the ones that aren't planned.