A Memorable Place
New appreciation for the old country
By Maria Demireva
SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Last summer I really got to know Bulgaria, my country of birth.
My family moved from Bulgaria when I was 6 years old to settle in Sweden. Later we moved to the United States. More than 15 years have passed since we left Bulgaria, but my parents, brother and I regularly go back during the summer to visit friends and relatives.
When we returned last summer, it was different: I saw my country of birth in a new light.
It was my mom's idea to take a road trip across Bulgaria with some of our relatives and friends. She believed that since this was our country of birth, my brother and I should get to know it so that we could better appreciate it.
Little did I know that there was so much to see in this small Balkan country that's barely larger than the state of Tennessee.
I already knew that Bulgaria was rich in history and culture similar to that of Greece. What most astonished me on our road trip was the country's diverse and stunning scenery.
One of my sweetest memories from the trip was traveling in the car in the summer heat with the windows rolled down and the fresh breeze blowing in my face as I gazed out the window.
In the distance, I could see picturesque mountain ranges. The grass on the meadows adjoining the small road on which we were driving had turned yellow from the heat. But the colors of the grasslands contrasted with the blue sky and the white puffy clouds. The road curved, and we slowly gained altitude, climbing higher and higher in the mountains.
The view was incredible, and the feeling was serene.
During the trip, we passed through small villages, visited monasteries and other historic sites, and drove through beautiful scenery. Observing and taking it all in, I was amazed by the beauty and richness of Bulgaria and all that this relatively poor country has to offer.
I felt a sense of pride traveling through Bulgaria, knowing that this beautiful nation is where I was born.
Maria Demireva lives in Ellicott City.
My Best Shot
Barry Glassman, Baltimore
Calligrapher's gift in Vietnam
A calligrapher we passed on the sidewalk in Hanoi last February turned out to be the chair of the language department at Hanoi University. Once a week, he liked to be out with the people instead of in the classroom. Calligraphy in Vietnam is a dying art. One of the treasures of the trip is the orange piece that he finished and signed and gave my wife and me.
Bob Bergman, Baltimore
It was December 2001, and my daughter and our son-in-law were having their 25th anniversary and my wife and I were having our 50th anniversary. We decided to celebrate the two events with a Caribbean cruise. The beauty of Barbados (shown) and St. Lucia was breathtaking. We intend to go back there for our 55th anniversary.
Wayne Kern, Baltimore
I vacationed in San Francisco last fall. Part of my trip included a visit to Chinatown. I strolled through the colorful streets of endless trinket shops, markets with produce I had never seen before, and numerous restaurants. A few blocks off the beaten path are the New Orleans-style, colorfully painted balconies of Waverly Place (shown). I love the colors and the geometric shapes of this area.
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