Schmoozing with Drunk Bulgarians

September 18, 2015

Before I knew what was happening, my friend shifted to the right, formed his hand into a tight fist, and brought it crashing down on my chest to make a muffled drum sound. Such is the power six Czech beers can have on a particular Bulgarian during happy hour. Writing off his behavior as eccentric, I spent most of the evening talking up my Couchsurfing contact and her surfer as we walked around Sofia, taking in cathedrals and churches before the rain started to come down and I retired to my IHG hotel.


Bulgaria was a bit of an unknown for me. Other than seeing glimpses of it from scenes of “I Spit on your Grave 2” and knowing it was a very poor country by EU standards, I didn’t really plan to do much after a 3-leg flight except get some dinner and crash early. I used my peer-to-peer delivery travel trick to smuggle in some beef jerky and cigarettes, meeting some locals in the process. I confess my mood was still very melancholy the entire plane ride; I stifled my feelings with four back-to-back movies, and arrived in Warsaw still wondering what I was doing leaving the country in my current state.

I didn’t make any particular effort to be miserable, nor did I try to smile or focus on being happy. If ever there was someone in a more emotional neutral state than I when I landed, I challenge you to find him. As a result, I could have been swayed very easily to pleasure or despair.

The good won out that day. Thanks to Uber, I bypassed the hardship of negotiating for a taxi and giving directions in Bulgarian, and thanks to IHG points, I found myself a safe and comfortable place to rest my head, even though I consider Holiday Inns a bit of a travel cliché.


Getting over jetlag quickly is a useful superpower. I may not have been completely conscious as my Couchsurfing friend showed me a church the US had bombed during WWII (“don’t do it again”, she warned), and as a waitress came back to our table to tell me the last Nutella cake had just been claimed – a tragedy in any country – but I soaked in as much as I could.




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