It was 10 AM and I hadn't packed yet. The night before we were to be out of our apartments in Morocco, I painted a mural and attended a party; there was no way I was missing out on the last medina hurrah because of an unpacked suitcase. Hungover and nauseated, I threw all my shit in a bag and praised Allah - I love you, Morocco, but it was definitely time to go.
Our travel day was a little hectic, seeing as we flew out at 2 AM, yet had to be out of our apartments no later than 12 PM. The rest of the day was to be spent at 7AY, our coworking space, or doing whatever you wanted - just don't miss the bus at 6 PM. I visited the museum on a whim, ate one last lunch at our beloved 7AY, and got on a bus to a beach club where we met another Remote Year group. After their travel day and our excitement of a new city ahead, we mingled and small talked until it was time to go to the airport. A general takeaway? The taste in most of our mouths was a little bitter, but thankful for the fact that we had such a great group.
On our 2 AM flight, I had eggs with wine and laughed until it hurt with Sami, who sat next to me on the plane. It hit me that I have yet to talk to a lot of people, and I made it a goal of mine this month to interact with everyone I possibly could on a more personal level. I slept for maybe an hour, woke up to the sunrise in Frankfurt, Germany, had a mimosa in the airport, and got on a quick two hour flight. I woke up with a new girlfriend: Sofia. My first week with her, I:
- settled in so easily people would have thought I was back in my apartment. It felt like home. I unpacked a little but couldn't finish before I had to scratch the itch to explore. My roommate Hilary and I met up with a few others, checked out their apartments, then realized we lived directly in the middle of the city. Vitosha is a pedestrian street lined with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and shopping; we live a block off of it, and it's magical. Though the weather was AMAZING (70 and sunny), that would soon change.
- got a few new gigs! Things are finally looking up in the world of freelance. And part of the reason I haven't posted regularly is because I'm WORKING REGULARLY! *choirs of angels sing* It's been nice getting new projects and actually getting paid.
- took a walking tour with a guy named Asen, the boyfriend of one of our city managers. He showed us a ton of cool spots and we ended up eating lunch at the top of the National Archives building - something we would have NEVER known about. A tiny cafe, it seemed straight out of the communist era. (Hint: probs was.)
- hung out at our new co-working space, SOHO, and met our amazing new coworkers. One, pictured below, I was particularly keen to.
- went to our welcome event at a place called Culture Beat, which kind of reminded me of a strip club that went under; their solution, in this instance, was to fire the strippers and just keep the rude bartenders. Seriously, one dude yelled at me because I didn't realize that no means yes and yes means no here.
- drank a bunch in the streets (it's legal here!) and frolicked in a garden with giant beers. While asking two Bulgarian men to take a photo of us, we decided to make friends with them and ask for local Bulgarian tips while tipsy. They took us to an Irish pub and we're now friends on Facebook.
- The same night, we met two Swedish guys who were also very nice. WOAH, WE CAN MEET LOCALS EASILY HERE! It's a really nice change. The Swedes work for Spotify and live in Bulgaria, so yea, locals. We hung with them a bit before going back to our apartments/beds.
- ...or did we? No. We didn't. We ended up at a Bulgarian Strip club, or course! I, a strip club virgin, expected the equivalent of the "pole dance class" teacher I had at a bachelorette party in Austin who could climb and work a pole swifter than a yoga mastering monkey. But instead, we were gifted with not so great strippers/dancers who kind of just weirdly moved side to side as they walked down a bar that doubled as a runway, slowly removing articles of clothing. We became so bored that a fellow remote ordered the most attractive girl for a lap dance; she was very nice and even chatted as she danced on someone else. It was...odd, to say the least. We won't be going back, but hey, all about experiences.
- bought groceries, like normal humans do, and even made some food.
- went on a pub crawl with a bunch of the other remotes in a big group. We saw some really cool places, including an illegal bar and an apartment bar (it was someone's apartment before), and ended the night dancing at a clerb. I'm not much of a clerb person, but I've been to more the past three months than I probably ever have in my life.
- drove in a car on a really winding road four hours after the pub crawl to go hiking. Why do I do this to myself? FOMO. That's why. A group of use rented two cars and drove up to the Rila Mountains to see the 7 lakes. The weather at this point looked like this:
- We finally made it to the ski lift, where we'd be riding halfway up the mountain to climb the rest of the way to the top. Again, we were very "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK" about this view. Who wants to conquer a mountain with no Instagram worthy proof???
- hiked a mountain, kind of hungover, but it was worth it because...
And so it was. Though a cloudy sky almost took the gorgeous views and optimism from the grasps of our cold, clammy fingers, this was a sign: this month was going to be amazing.
Through the clouds of what seemed like endless job offers falling through, friendships from home that were seemingly failing, the hardships of making connections in a place that offered zero to little assistance...we'd get through it, climb the damn mountain, and see the friggin' sun shine. All while getting an insta-worthy photo. For proof, of course.
Up next: a very normal week 11 recap, but I'll do it because I feel obligated. Sofia, you my girl.
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.