Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shaken in Sofia!

Click on the video below to see what my night was like last night.  At 3 am we were jolted out of bed by a 5.8 earthquake!  It seemed to go on for ages, I think because there were immediate aftershocks.  We both jolted straight up in bed, out of a deeeeep sleep trying to figure out what was happening.  I guess I was saying "what do we do, what do we do?!?!"  and Matt was sort of pushed me back down in bed with his arm and was holding it there saying "Relax! Relax!"  Once I got my whits about me I was like "WHAT?!  NO!  This is an earthquake, we need to get in a doorway!!!"  So we jump out of bed get into a door way...with my precious older than dirt cat.  She just stood frozen...almost like she was riding it out.  Matt and I stood in the doorway, he was bear hugging me...trembling.  I remember having a moment to think "Wow, this is really happening!"  And then saying aloud "Please just make it stop!"  I remember it was more like we were swaying then actually shaking.  We live on the top two floors of our apartment bloc, so maybe that's why?  It finally stopped and we went outside onto our balcony.  EVERYONE across the city had their lights on, people were in the streets, people were getting in their cars and just driving.  At 4am there was a ping pong game going on in the park next to our house!  At 4:30 am we had another BIG aftershock.  We were awake, since there was NO sleeping after 3am last night.  This time it felt more shakey, like you see in the movies.  We had aftershocks all night long.  We maybe got another hour of sleep before we had to get up to head to work. 

Throughout the whole thing?  We never lost power, Internet, or cell phone service.  Unbelievable!  AND, there were no causalities and no big damage.  How is that possible??  Completely miraculous if you ask me!  I remember thinking, it's one thing to go through that in the US but in a foreign country that doesn't have nearly the infrastructure or capabilities that the us does?? scary stuff! 

When I went upstairs this morning I noticed all of the pictures had fallen off the walls, a decorative plate had fallen and shattered and another ceramic thing fell from a shelf.  Recently the embassy installed earthquake hinges on our bookshelves and luckily nothing on them moved!

This morning our housekeeper came in and I asked if she was OK.  She was, just shaken.  The first thing she asked me was how the cat was doing.  God bless that sweet woman!!

So now, we are all just a bit frightened. and feeling the aftershocks.  I want it to be over!!  It is so stressful wondering if another one is going to come...

Anyway, watch the video...the footage is not the impressive but listen to the dogs!!  The poor street dogs were going nuts last night...they had no idea what was going on!

Hopefully I'm off to a restful, uneventful nights sleep!!  I need it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Italy Part IV- The Amalfi Coast

Shew, it's been a rough week here in Bulgaria!  Nothing to write home about, just some annoying frustrations...sooooo, what a perfect, rainy yucky day to re-visit my Amalfi Coast photos. 

So after we spent the day at Pompeii we headed for the cute little coastal town of Positano.  I have to warn you that there aren't ANY pictures of the drive because the roads are literally the windiest, scariest things I have ever been on.  Completely unbelievable.  Once we found our hotel (thankfully without getting lost at all!)  we were so happy to partake in our first glass of wine.  We rented an ADORABLE little apartment overlooking the sea.

Because we did Pompeii this meant we only had one full day to explore Positano.  This one day just so happened to be the day that our friend's niece who is studying abroad in Florence also happened to be there.  So we woke up, enjoyed breakfast on our balcony and then explored the adorable little windy paths filled with cute shops on our way to meet up with our friends niece.  We then had a loooong lunch filled with some delish italian beers. 

See that little guy above?  He literally had me in tears!!  When we walked to the beach there was this little guy and a bigger guy in a standoff.  Our friend was like, those dogs are about to fight.  There were a bunch of american study abroaders on the beach...the dogs started fighting (my eyes were closed as I was yelling for someone to make them stop) and the DUMB STUPID F&*(@^*( AMERICAN KIDS were EGGING the dogs on!!!!  I wanted to BEAT THEM!!  The dogs stopped, the big dog ran away and the little dog limped off :( :(  The little guy kept laying on peoples beach blankets.  What to do?  It's not like there's a vet's office close by...it's probably an hour away.  The weird thing is the dogs had collars.  I guess they are like "village" dogs and the restaurants take care of them.  Long story longer, I LOVED this little guy.  He was like a little midget dog.  I dont think he was a puppy.  Matt is dying to get a dog (to which I refuse all the time) so I told him if he could figure out a way to get THIS dog to Bulgaria, he could be ours!  Sadly, this little one stayed in Positano :(

Overall, I'm so glad we stopped in.  I'd love to go back and check out Capri and all the Grottoes around.  Maybe when it's a bit warmer too.  Delicious food, adorable town!

Oh and to end things off, above is a photo I took of Mt. Vesuvius from the car.  This was the best shot/view we could catch.  Next, we had back to Rome for one more day and a half.  Stay tuned for what's next....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Italy Part III- Pompeii and Amalfi

So our second full day in Italy we rented a car with our friends, Greg and Barbie, and hit the highway out to the coast.  Rome was a little tricky since it was rush hour but luckily Matt but his Bulgarian driving skills to work!  There are a TON of mopeds in Rome!!  We decided to hit up Pompeii on our way to the coast and boy am I sure glad we did!  It was a gloomy day so we couldn't see Mt. Vesuvius but it was so very cool to see all of the ruins and to imagine how things are still standing 2000 years later!!

We wondered the ruins of the old city for a while.  Crazy to imagine what the town must have thought when the volcano erupted!!

There were so many vineyards, must have been a huge wine production town (surprise, surprise in Italy!)

This was about the best shot of Mt. Vesuvius we were going to get that day....
 There were lots of "stray" dogs, which I always have a soft spot for...

The craziest part of the archaeological site was the imprints of volcanic ash of the people when the volcano erupted.  It's crazy to think that these people were just carrying on with the normal daily routines.  It's even crazier to me that these imprints have survived so long with very little care...

 The one below is actually a skeleton and ash.  Matt wanted us to get in a picture and we weren't quite sure how to pose!!

Next up, Amalfi Coast!!

Italy Part II- Rome and The Vatican

So Our first full day in Rome started out with a trip to the Vatican Museum.  We wandered over to Vatican City, grabbed a cappuccino and snack and headed to the Measure for our pre-arranged walk through of the museum and Sistine Chapel.  All I can say is holy crowded!!!  There were so.many.people at the museum.  It was so much that we weren't even really able to enjoy it.

I mean, seriously, look at all of these people?!?!  I still have yet to figure out why we pre-purchased a time slot?!  It was so crowded you couldn't even really enjoy it all or take it all in.  Other English speakers around us felt the same way.  We all tried to take short cuts to just get to the Sistine Chapel since the rest was so miserable but we kept getting turned away by the cards.  The only way to see the Chapel was to follow the masses...

Of course, there are no photos of the actual chapel since I'm a rule follower and abided by the no photo policy.  It is pretty impressive though.  I'm glad we saw it, not glad that had to fight the crowds.

Next, was back to St. Peter's square to go into the Basillica.  There was also a HUGE line here but luckily it moved pretty quickly.  The guards uniforms crack me up.

St. Peter's is equally as impressive and luckily not quite as crowded. 

My tourist, so happy for a yet another picture!!  This definitely depicts how we were both feeling about the crowds! We still had some time so we decided to hit up the Trevi Fountain.  It is gorgeous, but again, super duper crowded.  I guess the streets, etc. are just super tiny and old and just don't fit nicely into modern day.

After the Trevi Fountain, we headed off to meet some of our friends from DC!  That was sort of the point of heading to Italy at this particular time.  Friends of ours were going to be in Rome for work.  We met up with our friends, had some drinks and then headed out for dinner.  Tomorrow I'll be back with our visit to Pompeii and drive to the Amalfi coast.