Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Fred-Thoms are at it again!

Last weekend, I cruised up to Vienna to meet up with the Albuquerque Thomsons (and Libbiey's boyfriend, Duff). I convinced two of my coworkers (Tessa and Eric) to ride the train up with me as they had not seen Vienna. I have to reiterate how much I love the night trains. You fall asleep in Belgrade, and wake up in a whole new world. We took off Friday night and returned Monday morning in time for work, and only a little bit cranky from lack of sleep.

Vienna is an incredibly beautiful city, and I was constantly at a wonder over how well all of the public transportation works (Belgrade's is spotty at best). We all bought 24 hour metro tickets for our self guided tour. Perhaps the most impressive part of Vienna to me was the Summer Palace. It was an incredible estate and makes me wonder how Vienna could spend so much money and energy to house it's royals for a portion of the year.

I was also blown away by seeing a true Weiner Schnitzel (apparently Weiner just means "of Vienna"). I had always thought they are some sort of Bratwursts, but boy was I wrong. Apparently they take some pork, pound it until it is super thin, and then bread it. They serve it on not very big plates so the Schnitzel hangs over the edges. It was quite the experience to watch people it it (I refrained). I did, however, discover that nearly all vegetables in Vienna are pickled. Every time I ordered a meal, it came with pickeled vegetables of some sort, and quite often potato salad as well. Food in different countries always is an experience in itself.
I have now been back for a week of work. It really wears me out to go out of town for the weekend, so I will be sticking around this weekend!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


In wake of recent events, a coworker and I decided to get out of Belgrade and visit Sofia, Bulgaria. You may ask yourself, "Who goes to Sofia?" but we found it a friendly, town with plenty to see for two days.

We took a night train from Belgrade arriving early on Saturday morning in Sofia. Luckily, our hotel had agreed to let us check in early so that we wouldn't have to carry our bags around the city all day. Our hotel was a "boutique" hotel with nice rooms and a shower over the toilet (who knows how you are supposed to keep the toilet paper dry). As we read the Sofia City Guide that recommends restaurants, bars and sights, we discovered our hotel under the heading "Gay and Lesbian Night Life." What does that mean?

On Saturday, we did a city tour with our friend Adam. He showed us the churches, told stories about the old buildings, and gave us an American living in Sofia view on life there. We were impressed with the food, prices, and the fantastic climbing store!

Sunday, Tessa and I again met up with Adam for a trip up the mountain just outside of town. This is what Belgrade is missing. There is a gondola, accessible by public transportation, that goes from Sofia up to the local ski mountain. The gondola was old and rickety, but it definitely made Sofia seem to be a great little city.

While Bulgaria is a VERY poor country (much poorer than Serbia), it has had recent development due to it's acceptance into the EU. Many Brits have moved to Bulgaria, buying up ski condos and real estate that goes for less the $50,000 for a slopeside chalet. Additionally, Sofia is putting in a bid for a future Winter Olympics. Who knows, Sofia could be the next big deal!