After a week of being on a boat in Ibiza and Formentera, I was looking forward to chilling out for a while in Bulgaria before the craziness of 3 weeks which involved travelling to 6 countries, a lot of time in aeroplanes and a few cheeky surprises! (more about that in another post)
The couple of weeks started out well. I was now back with my travel group and enjoying exploring Sofia and its surrounds. I had no idea how beautiful Bulgaria would be! Sofia is situated at the foot of mount Vitosha with plenty of camping spots, hiking trails and mountain bike tracks for the whole family!
Of course, I am completely clueless when it comes to this kind of stuff. As evidence of this, I went for a walk with my friend Ryan up the mountain. We followed a random track to a random campsite in the early afternoon. After resting for a while we realised that neither one of us were in the mood to continue walking in the summer heat so we decided to do the manliest thing possible, start a fire (with no matches). What ensued was probably the most intense exertion of energy the mountain has ever seen. For two hours we worked at building this fire. After about 45min of rubbing sticks together we were getting, dare I say, plumes of smoke coming off this wood, billowing off the log (seriously, we were!). We toiled in the fading sun, taking turns to keep the heat going. We could feel the fire coming, it was about to ignite up on the mountain and the celebration would have been heard in the city far below. In the end, after 2 hours, we were nowhere near a flame and the dream had died. We walked back to the city dejected but hopeful for more successful escapades into the wilderness in the future!
Thankfully, the ability that we were lacking was more than made up for by Asen Velchikov from Balcanic Life. We were connected with Asen through our city team in Sofia and managed to get out mountain biking, go camping in the Bulgarian wilderness and even snuck in a traditional naked Bulgarian bath. The last one being a very liberating bonding experience with the lads! (sorry ladies, no photos)
I was also fortunate enough to meet up with Teddy, a friend of an old team mate of mine back in Sydney, to play some football. Teddy picked us up one afternoon and drove us to a university complex outside the city. I have to admit, for a second I was worried when we turned into some back roads with abandoned cars on the side of the street in order to get to where we were going to park the car. My concerns were ill founded! Teddy came through with the goods, Bulgarians vs Africans on a synthetic pitch at the university, followed by beers for a few hours afterwards. One of the best experiences in Sofia!
Finally, we worked with T.R.A.P. (Trotoara Room for Angry People), a community organisation providing a space for the youth of Sofia to come together and work on creative arts projects. The group is just beginning and did not have their first space up and running yet. They did however have an old warehouse that was yet to be refurbished. We thought, “warehouse party!!!” and away we went!
With the $1,000USD raised from the party, T.R.A.P. now has the funds required to pay for new flooring, paint the walls, complete electrical installation and install air-conditioning. Their first common space for the kids is now on target to be completed by the end of October 2017. It’s amazing what the group is looking to create and it was really special to be a part of it!
Did I also mention that I struggled with food poisoning at one point during my time in Bulgaria…?
So, just when you think that you are going to have a chilled out few weeks you end up getting food poisoning, struggle through a few days with a testy stomach, hike in the mountains, camp in the wilderness, mountain bike through the forest, throw a warehouse party, make some awesome new friends (from both within and outside of the Remote Year group), check out a reggae club in the park and decide to go bungee jumping…
Bungee jumping!!! WHAT?!?!?! Hold onto your horses. You’ll have to check-in tomorrow for that story!
The reflective stuff
When I took a moment to reflect I realised how easy it can be to get lost in travel. I felt that I was constantly thinking about what I was going to do in the near future while at the same time reminiscing on what I had just done in the recent past. I was therefore missing some of the great things in the present moment. Just a reminder for us all to take a breath every now and then.
As always, take what you will from this post and feel free to get in touch!