So I’ve been back in the US now for a few days, and I’ve been going out o my way to avoid eating chicken and potatoes and cheese. A nice falafel sandwich was my welcome back to the US–real falafel, not the weird fried breaded Bulgarian stuff. I think the food is what I missed the most. Bulgarian fare was really bland after two weeks of it, and eventually a few of us gave in and went to Toasty’s, the European version of Subway, just to get an actual sandwich. I’m convinced the meat was fake, but the combination of lettuce and tomato with turkey and ham on an Italian hoagie bun was not something we came across at all while traveling through Bulgaria. Everything was just so heavy. I asked Delcho if it was possible to be on a diet while living in the country, and he said the ones he knew who tried, failed miserably. No surprise there.
So I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on my time in Eastern Europe, and I think the results are a mix of irritation, satisfaction, and confusion. Irritation, because the longer we stayed in Bulgaria, the wider range of anti-American attitudes we experienced. Our last day in Sofia we were rudely addressed by a group of teenagers as the “asshole Americans” that were taking up the sidewalk. Uh..thanks? I’m not really sure why these attitudes exist, especially because I don’t think there are many Americans in Bulgaria to begin with…its still an untapped market for globalization from what I can tell.
Satisfaction because I’ve always wanted to visit Eastern Europe, and now I have the ability to compare life all over the continent. In comparison with Western Europe (Italy, France, Germany), Eastern Europe truly does have a lot of catching up to do. I also appreciated the fact that Bulgaria was not completely inundated with tourists like a lot of other European countries I’ve been to. Tourism is not their main industry, so it has a little more of a realistic quality to it, although the souvenirs are still all the same everywhere you go. The Thracian tombs though…definitely fake, definitely not worth the trip. You can see the mounds from afar and still get a feeling for what a Thracian tomb is like. Visiting Bulgaria made me want to see more of Eastern Europe.
And finally, confusion, because even after spending two weeks in the country, I still can’t figure out what direction its heading in, or where exactly it wants to be in the near future. But what’s clear is that they cannot do whatever it is that they plan for without EU funds, so that is obviously their first priority. From what I can see though, getting the 13 billion they were offered seems to be the only priority they have.