Posted on 31 August 2012 by brett
Seven Rila Lakes Trek Celebration
We’ve learned to live in the moment and to be prepared for anything to happen while on the road. A chance meeting in Chumphon, Thailand with Jeff & Neda led us to Bulgaria….. a hidden gem we would have never known.
It is now more than 100 years since Bulgaria declared its independence from Ottoman rule. And, 20 years since the fall of Communism. The average standard of living suffered a catastrophic decline in the early 1990’s in many former Communist states. Many began to rise with Capitalistic policies toward the end of the 21st century. Some countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia are poorer today than they were in 1989. Others like Bulgaria & Romania have managed to bounce back considerably. The IMF ranks Bulgaria 67th in the world by per capita GDP (PPP). Romania is slightly behind in the 73rd position. Both are 15-20% above the world average. A list of European countries by monthly net average wage reveals both countries around $400. To put this in perspective, Turkey is at $634, the US around $2,197, and the UK at $2,556. Continue Reading
Posted on 15 August 2012 by brett
2012 Blue Cruise Crew
Encountering new friends during our travels has delightfully taken us on unexpected adventures around the world. It’s funny how one small decision can domino effect your travel plans. Our decision to go to the Pearl Jam show in Prague lead us to meet Lauren & Dave in the 10 Club line…… while they were wondering why they weren’t getting buzzed from drinking non-alcoholic beer. It took a local Czech person to point out that the label read “Non-Alcoholic Beer”.
Instant friendship is what made our decision easy to continue on following Pearl Jam to Berlin. Fast-forward one month later and all our paths crossed once again while in Turkey. Dave is so generous and offered for us to stay with him in Istanbul. And, Lauren invited us on an unforgettable Blue Cruise sailing trip around the Turkish Meditterrean Sea. Continue Reading
Posted on 08 August 2012 by brett
Rila Seven Lakes Trekking Crew
Our entrance to Bulgaria was quite unique compared to other border crossings. Both Romania & Bulgaria are not full EU members, so the crossing requires a short immigration/customs checkpoint. Our friends (Calin & Mihai) drove us down the Black Sea coast to Cape Kaliakra for fresh mussels and a dip in the lagoon. They were kind enough to then drop us off in Varna to catch a bus to the 13th century capital city of Veliko Tarnovo.
We randomly met Neda & Jeff Fields back in January as our world adventure began. It was at a time when extended world travel was simultaneously new, super exciting and a bit scary. The only thing missing was close friendship and a deep connection to “home”. We stopped at a hotel for a potty break and suddenly found ourselves talking with our new friends. Jeff is from a town very close to ours and Neda partly grew up in Springfield, Missouri. We quickly learned that Neda was originally from Stara Zagora, Bulgaria and still had deep ties to her homeland. That day was one of our most memorable as we walked the local street markets around Chumpon, Thailand. Most notably, we enjoyed their adventurous spirit as we watched hacky-sack handball and tried fried grasshopper snacks. Continue Reading