In April & May, I spent four weeks traveling abroad in Eastern Europe. My husband grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, where his parents and grandparents still live and every other year we make a trip to see them and visit his home country. My sister-in-law and her husband also joined us from Arusha, Tanzania, so the entire family was together! This visit was unique because after a week alone with my family in Bulgaria, three of our friends from Minneapolis joined us to visit. It was quite an adventure! Our time in Bulgaria was spent exploring areas off the beaten path, where most American tourists would never get to visit! I think my friends would agree that the highlight of the trip was a visit to an old Bulgarian psychic, who lives in a remote mountain house outside a tiny village in rural part of the country. We had to hike up a mountain to see her! And it was unanimous- her readings were spot on! I had last seen the psychic in 2008 and her reading proved to come true, so I was eager to introduce her to my friends! Besides for that, we spent time wandering the countryside and exploring small towns and villages, in addition to time in the capital city of Sofia. We had tons of traditional, fresh food and salads. Thanks to my mother-in-law for being an amazing host and cooking us the best meals of the trip!
Let’s take it back to the year 2000 today! I had recently graduated from high school in small town Minnesota and moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue my degrees in Architecture and Interior Design. I was going to be living in the dorms and was randomly placed with a international student from Japan. Luckily, the new roommate and I hit it off very well and since she was a sophomore (and I knew exactly 0 people at NDSU) I started hanging out with her and her friends. She was a member of the International Student’s Association, which just happened to have a very cute Bulgarian president! This Bulgarian president and I seemed to cross paths often. I don’t remember specifically meeting him, but we had mutual friends, worked at the same on-campus job, and saw each other at parties and events.
This randomly placed roommate turned out to be so serendipitous. I met so many international students from all over the world which sparked my love for travel and exploration. But most importantly, it led me to my now husband. After a couple years of running into this cute Bulgarian boy, we eventually started dating, eventually tied the knot, and now we will have been married 9 years in July. (HOLY CRAP!!!) As soon as we started dating we fell head over heels in love and it wasn’t long before he invited me to Bulgaria. It wasn’t exactly your typical “meet the parents” scenario. I had to fly 5,000+ miles to meet them. Of course, we were poor college students, so we had to purchase the cheapest fares ever, and if I recall correctly, we had about 15 connections to get to Bulgaria! I remember showing up at the airport, nervous as can be, jet lagged beyond belief, feeling like I desperately needed a shower. We made our way to my in-laws home, and there waiting was a sweet, little, wide-eyed girl named Florina. Flori was only 15 at the time (heck, I was only 22!). I wasn’t engaged yet, but I was pretty sure this girl was eventually going to be my sister-in-law and I was so nervous to meet her. Maybe more nervous than meeting the parents. Flori studied English and spoke pretty well, but back then communication was more limited. We bonded over painting our nails together and our mutual love of her brother!
The next time I saw Flori (and my in-laws) was at my wedding. After that, Flori moved to Minnesota to study, and eventually she met a boy too. He was from Tanzania and they fell in love. Before we knew it, we found ourselves celebrating at their wedding, 1 day before our own six year wedding anniversary! Anyone who sees Flori and Mo together can immediately see how in love they are. (Or if you’re on Facebook, you can just check out Mo’s annoyingly sappy Facebook status updates!!! ;) I’m really happy my little sis found a man who loves her so much and treats her so well. Our family time together is limited since we live on three different continents, but it was so good to be in Bulgaria in last month. I captured a few photos for Flori and Mo. Miss you guys so much!