Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

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Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

Post  Dobi on Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:01 pm

So why would I be absent for a whole month just when the summer is on its end? Easy answer - 'cause I was everywhere, but not at home.

Everything really started with my little 4-day trip with my best friends to the countryside, where one of them has a really nice house with a pool on a quiet place far from the urban jungle of Sofia. I believe that was in the second week of August. So, that's basically the start of my summer adventures for this year. Of course, I have some photos from that little vacation, but I believe that looking at photos of good ol' boys cookin' BBQ, drinking beer, chillin' in a pool and getting high while blastin' loud music from big speakers won't be really interesting for you, so let's get to the actual part. Razz

The business trippin' part

(just click here for all the photos)

So, in the title I told you something about a business trip, right? Well, that's exactly what happened the next week after I got back from the countryside. I woke up early on Monday and went to the office expecting just the regular working day. I was wrong. The boss gathered us in our conference room (where we also keep all of our servers, our darts board and our table football) where he told us that the company is going to be the contractor of a governmental project. A part of the deal is to personally teach various municipality workers from all around Bulgaria how to use a new software... the other part is to have fun while traveling around the country. Very Happy That's literally what our boss told us. So, we split up into teams - each team had one car and had to cover various regions of Bulgaria. My team got the central, north-west and a little bit of the south-west regions of the country. Just one thing about the mentioned car - Nissan Micras with 1.2l engines are NOT comfortable cars for blastin' down the highway at 140km/h! Laughing

The next day we packed up our bags and set off to the central part of Bulgaria. Imagine 2 blokes and a girl (who was the owner of the Micra) in a tiny black car. Yup, that was us driving early in the morning to our first destination - the city of Pravets. Have you heard of the old Bulgarian computers going by the same name? No? Well, they were a big thing back in the days of the 5,25'' floppy disks and recorder tape drives. So, if you ever meet a person from Pravets and he seems to be kind of cocky, don't wonder why his ego is so big - some of those guys are still riding on the glory from the old days when techno music was modern and a Pravets computer was the best thing money could buy. Very Happy Now, about the municipality guys I had to teach there... They were just like that. It was so bad, the only thing I could do after I finished with them was to rest in a local bar, drinking some cold beer while waiting for my team to pick me up. So, no photos from this town!

Actually, the good thing was that those were the most arrogant municipality workers I had to deal with throughout the whole business trip, so basically the worst was over in the very beginning! Also, not every municipality had some sort of a landmark or anything interesting that could be seen or photographed, so from now on, I'll be telling you only about the places where there were cool things to be seen.

Also, one thing about our schedule - each member of the team had to cover 2 municipalities per day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That makes 6 municipalities total for the whole team in a single day. So what happened usually was that after the work for the day was done, we drove down to the hotel where we would sleep for the night, we would leave our stuff there and then we had a few hours to stroll around, check stuff, have fun, dinner, etc.

Our most interesting location from the first week of the business trip was Veliko Turnovo. Now, this is something like San Francisco - the city is build on the hills, so while walking in Veliko Turnovo you can either be going downhill or uphill, because there are simply no places there where the ground is leveled. That makes for a good workout for the legs, btw Razz What Veliko Turnovo has that SF doesn't have, though, are all the cool old buildings, bridges and landmarks (some of them dating from 7000 years ago!) that can be seen on the hills of that monumental city. One monument that we had the time to see, was the Tsarevets Fortress, which unfortunately was closed by the time we arrived there.

So much for the first week of the trip! Enter the second one.
Now we traveled north-west to some of the poorest regions of Bulgaria. As we entered such municipalities as Montana and Lom, the bad roads made the car shake and tremble over all of the potholes of the old asphalt. By all the abandoned factories and central streets covered in old and dirty white marble, you could tell that those places were flourishing decades ago. Abandoned run-down old buildings that once were theaters and luxurious hotels; old communist panel block buildings IN WHICH PEOPLE LIVE with cracked walls and panels just waiting to fall off... those are just few of the sad sights you're going to see if you leave Sofia and enter the dirty wild north-west of Bulgaria.

Still, most of the towns had their share of good places to visit. If you dig into the Google+ photo album I shared with you above, you can see pictures of the sun setting over the big dam of Montana and the Danube river gently washing the north-western borders of the country, where the city of Vidin is. We visited the Baba Vida fortress while we were there (the angry knight on one of the photos is me) and we also ate some of the greatest fish meals we've ever had. Smile

You can also see photos of one of the greatest natural monuments of Bulgaria - the Belogradchik rocks! Those are unique rock formations which were used long ago as the base foundation for a fortress. There is a photo in the album showing a legend of how the building process went through the years.

So, this is it for the business tripping... As for the camel riding, I'll write a separate post in this topic as soon as I can. Wink

Dobi

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Re: Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

Post  Dobi on Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:51 pm

The camel ridin' part

(photos are here)

Please, tighten your seatbelt and prepare for a takeoff, 'cause we're flying to another continent - Africa!

Now basically, two trips weren't enough, so here comes the third one, which happens to be a quite exotic trip. Smile

The start itself wasn't exotic, though. It started very early in the first morning of September (that dull and gray month which I love to hate), when I woke up, barely getting enough sleep, and slowly prepared to exit the family flat (which is located in an old dull and gray 8-storie panel building) with my mom and all the luggage. Yep, it was one of those usual dull and gray mornings when you don't want to exit the bed and you don't even want to be reminded about the dull and gray life that waits for you outside in the concrete jungle of Sofia. Did I mentioned how dull and gray it is to live in the capital city of Bulgaria? ESPECIALLY IN SEPTEMBER??? The good part? I would be escaping from Sofia for another full week on the very same day! Woohoo! My mind got brightened by the very thought about that! Riding in the taxi on our way to the airport, I was secretly laughing at all the losers who were going to work, while I was going to chill for yet another week.

2 hours passed faster than ever as we were on the airport, doing all the stuff you do before going on your flight. Another 2 hours passed even faster as we flew to Africa and landed in Tunisia. Now that was a whole lot different from the urban jungle. Just setting your foot on this place made you feel better. And how I wouldn't feel better when I was kind of entering another world!

Yeah, kind of. You see, Tunisia is pretty much the arab version of Bulgaria. They drive pretty much the same cars. Their money currency has pretty much the same value as the Bulgarian currency. Their people are pretty much just as poor as our people. The prices for food and drinks are pretty much the same as the ones in Bulgaria. And they also speak Russian as pretty much as we do.

And yet, they seem to live better than us. They don't think about money as much as we do. Their minds don't seem to be as troubled and ill as ours. Did you know that you can walk in 2am on the streets alone without fearing that someone may attack you for whatever reason? There are not even homeless dogs! Think about how many people become victims of packs of starving street hounds or of hooligans and skinheads here in Bulgaria! They just don't have that in Tunisia.

So much for comparing the 2 countries. Let's get on to the trip. So, we landed there, right? Then we got transferred to our hotels in Hammam Sousse. My hotel was located just next to the beach, which was really cool, although I didn't get a room with a beach view. After that, we had to change currency. This is the moment when I found that if you can only speak English, you are pretty much doomed there. There are 3 wide-spread languages in Tunisia and none of them is English - Arab, Russian and French. Most of the people there know like 10 or 20 of the most commonly used words in the English language and that's it. Luckily, my mom still remembered some Russian so it took us "only" half an hour to find a working change kiosk and change our money. Laughing Also, tipping is a common practice in Tunisia - you're pretty much expected to tip wherever you go. Contrary, here in Bulgaria we only tip taxi drivers, waitresses and pizza delivery guys... and we don't always tip the pizza guys. Very Happy So in Tunisia you'll be looked at as a bad person if you walk around taking photos and asking questions when you only carry large notes of foreign currencies. Very Happy Along with some sunbathing and walking around the streets, that was pretty much how day 1 passed.

Day 2 was the day when I noticed how many pirate ships are sailing around... So that's what I did - I spend day 3 on a pirate ship! Smile We sailed for a few hours all inclusive with sea food, music, dancing, pirates yelling, climbing and jumping all around the ship and finally there was a magician show (maybe that wasn't the right word) in which one of the pirates would lay on a pad of sharp spikes, each as long as 20cm and they would pick girls from the spectators who would step and walk on the guys head and body while he is laying on the spikes. They also did various tricks with those spikes. Sadly, I couldn't take any photos of the show because there were so many people on the ship, that nothing good would've come out of such photos. Sad And they didn't have rum on the ship, only cola! Have you ever imagined a pirate ship that has a diesel engine, but doesn't have any rum, hm? Maybe they didn't have rum, because they used it to power the engine, haha. Rolling Eyes  Wink But seriously, it was cool.
Brotip: If you ever end up in Hammam Sousse and want to sail in a pirate ship, don't buy your ticket from the hotel! Just go down to the shipyard and you'll get the same deal for 20 bux less!!!

On day 4 and day 5 was the Sahara trip! Here comes the cool stuff. So, we traveled deep into the southern parts of the country, where you won't find any civilization, unless you're in an oasis. And that's where I went. Smile Throughout the 2 days, we visited an oasis, toured a desert zoo, went offroading in the desert, visited Tatooine Wink , rode a camel, visited a Berber home and visited the Roman amphitheater in El Djem! I don't even know what I can tell you about all of this! I can only mention a thing about the Star Wars stuff and I'll leave the rest to the photos I took (a single picture tells a 1000 words, right?). So, the Tatooine decors looked awesome. All of the fancy alien antenna stuff was made out of wood, but was very nicely painted. And the 'houses' were also very realistic from the outside. It is also interesting how they still keep those things around, I mean it has been a while since The Phantom Menace was filmed, right?

Actually, I'll tell you about the zoo as well. Have you ever seen a zoo guide slap a lion and make a camel drink coca cola? No? Well, that's how badass our zoo guide was. He was an arab guy, but he knew Russian like it was his first language. There was a lion and a lioness in the zoo and the male was resting really close to the steel bars that separate its cell from the tourists. So the guide jumped over the barricade which stops the tourists from directly touching the cell, he snuck closely to the cell, got one of his hands between the steel bars and slapped the resting lion in the head then he quickly ran off as the lion tried to grab the hand that slapped him! That was the first time I heard (and felt) the bassy growl of an angered lion in person! It hit me like a 30hz note coming from an 18'' subwoofer. It was comparable to the growl of a 7.5 liter Buick V8 engine without headers, getting revved to 4k RPM. It was that loud and the bass was that strong!
Then the guide, proceeded on to give some Cola to the camel and make a lizard show, which was pretty cool. I got to put a salamander on my shirt and a girl got a small snake around her neck. Cool stuff. Smile

I also mentioned the word "Berber", right? Berbers are the native people of this country. They were the first settlers from many years ago. Then, first the Phoenicians, then the Romans and finally the Arabs all left their mark on the Berbers. Most of the Berbers are Islamic these days, though some are Christian (you can see some Christian symbols in their homes - like the fish). Their homes are mainly handmade caves in the rocky parts of the desert. They are very peaceful people and they pretty much live the old way of living. On some of the photos in the album, you can see a Berber home and a native woman.

So after the Sahara trip ended, the coolest part of the whole trip ended as well. The rest of the time I spent in Tunisia was mostly for sunbathing, shopping and talking with Tunisian people (mostly traders) about life in that country. Then of course as each good story has an ending, my Arabian story ended with me and my mom getting on the plane back to our homeland. That was both sad and good. Sad it is, because I had to go back to... wait for it... the dull and gray Sofia. On the other hand, I am a programmer and if I ever go to live in Tunisia, I'll be among the poorest there, because my job isn't well paid in their lands. Also, my home is where my friends and family are... and that's Bulgaria. So it's not so bad being back in my homeland again, right?

EDIT
lol, that was pretty tl;dr. Guess, next time I'll just use more pictures less words... geek

Dobi

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Re: Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

Post  BnBGobo99 on Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:19 am

Neat trip experience, Dobi! I liked pic #50 from your business trip (the mountain range) and the sunset pics once the sun went below the horizon. The cloud pic #191 was pretty cool, too.

It's funny, because you mentioned San Francisco--and that's one of the oldest cities in California--dating back to the 1700's (Presidio portion, anyways). When American's say "that's an old building!" we usually mean "New Deal" era (1930's), or maybe Civil War (1860's)... there isn't much older than that unless you are in New England where some of the buildings are early 1700's. When people from other countries say "E o clădire veche!" they mean something that's a thousand years old or more. Laughing
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Re: Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

Post  Dobi on Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:00 pm

Yeah, we perceive some things differently. Smile But you do have some pretty old monuments on your continent as well. Mayan civilization and American native cultures come to mind when I think about ancient North and South America. I don't know about any modern American cities built over/around the remains of really old settlements, though.

As for the photos, I'm glad you like them. The sad part is that all the social networks decrease the quality of uploaded photos, so many of the pics you see are pretty messed up from all the compression that is applied. I choose Google+ because my phone (LG Nexus 5) is essentially a Google phone and it seems that the only social network that supports spherical photos is theirs. Neutral

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Re: Just sayin' "Goodbye, summer" by business trippin' & camel riding

Post  Xraygunner on Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:00 am

Just as an aside there have been "recent" digs that have found Sumerian artifacts as well. Just sayin'!
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