Love-locked @ Ponte Vecchio | Florence, Italy

florence_love_locksThe Florentine authorities seem to have lost the battle against the lovers’ custom to latch padlocks onto the Ponte Vecchio as a sign of their undying love. After attempts to remove them and prevent new locks from being put up, the bridge is once again covered by lucchetti d’amore, inscribed with the couples’ names. The most popular place to put them seems to be the railings of Benvenuto Cellini’s monument, which are decorated with fleurs-de-lis motifs.

(You can read more about this custom and the love-padlock-covered bridge in Ljubljana here.)

Blog love: Karolinka in & around Bulgaria

I was thrilled to discover that The ground beneath my feet was recently mentioned in the wonderful blog Karolinka in & around Bulgaria, together with another favorite blog of mine, so I want to say an enormous thanks for the nice words and a big welcome to the many readers who came here via her blog (I hope you stick around!).

Carolyn, who for the purposes of the blog uses her endearing Bulgarian nickname, writes about her life as an American in Sofia and the joys, struggles, surprises and other roller-coaster-kinds of experiences that living here brings with it. I was initially attracted to the blog because of my interest in ex-pat and migration stories – I am always fascinated by foreigners who live in or travel to Sofia and love to hear and collect their stories, impressions and experiences of the city (more on that here). I am continuously impressed with Carolyn’s commitment to learn Bulgarian and make the best out of the years she spends in the country. What has kept me coming back to her blog again and again, though, is the honesty, compassion, humor and goodwill that come through in everything Karolinka writes – whether it is culinary delights or the clash with Bulgaria’s public health care system, but most of all – it is our shared love for Sofia.

So, if you haven’t already, go check it out.

Blog love: Girl Meets Bulgaria

I recently lent my camera to be used by somebody who really wanted to take pictures but didn’t have one, since I was really busy working and had no time for photographs. (Some saw this as an act of utter stupidity and others – of kind generosity, but the final verdict depends on when and if I get it back.*) In the meantime, I thought my only options were either to post really bad quality photographs taken with my phone (like the last two) or to not post anything at all.

But I have a much better idea now! As I was catching up on my blog reading in the last couple of days, I opened up Girl Meets Bulgaria, a blog I discovered (or rather it discovered me!) almost to the day a year ago and have meant to write about for quite some time here. The latest posts even seem to be calling out my name in particular, with a couple of nice feet-on-the-ground photos, from the Black Sea coast and the tiny town of Koprivshtitsa.

Whitney, the girl meeting Bulgaria, is an American who not long ago came over to live with her new husband in the mountain town of Smolyan in the south of the country. In her blog, she documents the adventures of being in a cross-cultural and bi-national relationship and the transition (and bureaucratic, emotional and logistical ups and downs) of moving from the States to Bulgaria. Lately, she’s been writing about the challenges, joys, surprises, disappointments, fascinations and new discoveries that come with adjusting to life in Bulgaria, and her impending return to the States for the spring and summer. She’ll be back in the fall though!

As somebody who has lived in and traveled to many places, I am always interested in the experiences of others who are doing that. At the same time, as a Bulgarian “local” (and I use the term local in a loose sense here), I love hearing, reading and collecting the stories, experiences and impressions of people who are either traveling through or have come to live in this country. I like reading Whitney’s blog because, although I am closely familiar with life in the States and in Bulgaria in general, her particular experiences are sharply different from my own and would be completely out of my reach if she weren’t writing it. Case in point: she used to work in a national park in Alaska and now she lives in the lovely and mysterious Rodopi Mountains! With all things considered, these are two experiences I am very unlikely to have in my own life, although you never know. Also unlike me, Whitney is always in full and constant possession of her camera: she takes a lot of photographs that are a joy to look at – not just because they are beautiful, but also because they often capture an unusual perspective into what – to me – are very usual Bulgarian sights.

But enough from me, go check out Whitney’s lovely blog for yourselves and say hello!

***All of the photographs – apart from the opening one – were taken by Whitney.***

*Update: Just got my camera back, so all is good with the world and yes, I turn out to be kind and generous and not utterly foolish, as suspected.

Blog love: The Migrant Bookclub

I stumbled upon Petya’s blog several years ago and I’ve been a big fan of her writing ever since. Back then, it was called How to Marry a Bulgarian and it documented, in her own words, “the joys {and, sometimes, confusion} of bi-cultural marriage, pan-Slavic eccentricity, and the emotional struggles {and, liberation} of being away from *home* and *family*” – all issues that are particularly close to my heart. Recently, she changed both her blog’s name – to The Migrant Bookclub, as well as its focus, and now shares entertaining, personal and informative stories and images on the topics of literature – particularly by immigrant and Central and Eastern European authors; art; style; and fashion! What has stayed the same and kept me coming back for more is her ability to find exciting topics and continuously offer her own unique spin on them.

I may or may not be a little envious of Petya’s inspired productivity and ceaseless energy (besides The Migrant Bookclub, she’s also the woman behind the blog Openly Feminist [in Bulgarian]). To top it all off, sometimes she even publishes photos of her own feet as illustrations to her stories, which in and of itself is enough to make me love her blog.So, in case you’ve been living in the jungle with no Internet access for the past several years and you’re only hearing about The Migrant Bookclub now, check it out! I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Blog love: Meanwhile on the 7th floor

I’ve been following Meanwhile on the 7th floor for a while now and just loving it. It documents the artistic, culinary, literary and travel adventures of an insanely cute and creative couple living on the seventh floor in Sofia, and manages the uneasy feat of being super romantic without being cheesy. Also, it is written in both English and Bulgarian!

I recently signed up to follow the blog and imagine my delight today when I found this little message to me (from snow-covered Sofia, no less) in their latest post:

Thank you, Sevda and Emil, and right back at you!