7:30 am on July 6 Cheremosh gathered at the Edmonton airport. We were there 3 hours ahead of time, so we had plenty of time for a nice breakfast once we went through security. Only a few mix-ups at check-in occurred. Some names were mixed up on the boarding passes. It was mostly straightened out; some bags were still tagged under the wrong name, but not a big deal.
A few dancers had left for Europe a couple days earlier so we had a slightly smaller group. They are going to meet us in Nessebar.
We flew from Toronto to Warsaw to Sofia. Strangely no customs forms were required and no questions were asked to get into Bulgaria. All our suitcases and blue “body bags” (ie our garmet bags) came out quickly, except for one. Luckily she was a prepared traveller and could survive a few days without it if she needed too. If it were lost costumes, I think everyone would have been a bit more worried. We need every single one of our costumes in order to perform.
We were in Europe and happy to be there!
We were quickly onto the bus and traveling into Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, where we would spend one night. The landscape outside of the city of Sofia is beautiful with farmland, little villages full of red-roofed buildings and green low rolling mountains off in the distance; similar to northern Italy or Alberta just before the Rockies. Sofia looked a lot like cities in Ukraine, especially with all the cyrillic letters on signs and cobblestone streets. We were definitely in Eastern Europe. To others Sofia reminded them of a mix of Mexico and Europa boulevard at WEM. Many large communist-like buildings, churches and apartment buildings.
After a one hour rest in the compact but very nice Hotel Budapest, we gathered in the lobby hoping to head out and look for some supper. Nobody had slept very well on the plane the night before but everyone was ready to head out on the town and see the capital while we were there. We grabbed some maps and directions from the hotel lobby staff and set out as one big group towards the center. As a map and travel enthusiast, I took the lead. The plan was to go to the starting point of the “Free Sofia Tour” that started in 1.5 hours and split from there. Getting to this point was interesting in itself as banks, picture taking and hunger kept our group from keeping together. After a quick snack at McDonalds we met our free tour guide, Niki, who took us around and explained in great detail the history of some of the buildings and churches. Although he was very informative and interesting, hunger and jet-lag overpowered and the following became smaller and smaller as we walked for the next 2 hours, until there were about 6 of us left (plus other tourists). Those that left the tour were able to find some great places to eat for little money. Others went shopping and had some interesting encounters with gypsies. Overall it was a lovely warm evening. Everyone enjoyed the historic city and were able to fall asleep very quickly that night.