Part I

Part II 

One year later



Ok, so I’m a lazy, lazy blogger. But, better late than never.

Quite simply, Bulgaria rocks. Who knew? After a long and wacky sleepless train ride over the border from Turkey (that’s a whole other post), we’ve had several good days soaking up some Bulgarity. At the moment, we’re sitting here in Veliko Tarnovo, a college town in the mountains with a river running through it, after a scrumptious meal of shopska salad (like greek salad only better), rakia (really strong wine type stuff) and yummy bulgarian stew prepared by our hosts Maria, Fredeo and Georgi, playing Texas hold ’em and listening to the frog chorus outside–DJ Frog.

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Earlier today, we took a little hike with an Australian bloke, Pat, to Arbanassi, the town in the hills above that has several very old churches filled with thousands of intricate golden frescos hidden in inconspicuous buildings to save them from the Ottomans during their rule here. The day before we hiked to a monestary and scaled a ladder up a cliff to visit caves that once were home to neanderthals and the biggest cave bear ever found.

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Hiking, cave bears, cheap beer, and music. Life is good.

And, as if it could get any better, this place is home to the 80 cent (USD) pint of beer and–get a load of this–the World Arm Wrestling Championships will be held here in October!

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Veliko Tarnovo: Home of the World Arm Wrestling Championships. Sweet.

Alas, we will miss this exciting cultural experience as we have to be going up north on the train to Bucharest, Romania and . . .Transylvania! Transylvania is home to the Carpathian mountains, one of the last big chunks of wilderness left in Europe and home to all sorts of fuzzy wild critters like wolves, bears and vampires. And just in time for our wedding anniversary. How romantic.

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.

— W. Somerset Maugham

Hmm. Wait a minute …

Anything that can be put in a nutshell should remain there.

– Bertrand Russell

The Enfield of India 350cc Bullet was a single-cylinder, four-stroke motorcycle, constructed to the plans of the original 1950s’ model of the British Royal Enfield. Renowned for its idiosyncratic handling as much as for its reliability and durability, the Bullet was a bike that demanded a relationship with its rider. That relationship involved tolerance, patience and understanding on the part of the rider. In exchange, the Bullet provided the kind of soaring, celestial, wind-weaving pleasure that birds must know, punctuated by not infrequent near-death experiences.

– Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram


JUSTIN-CREDIBLE! Verlander’s no-hitter first for Tigers since 1984

No-hitters come out of nowhere. They just build and build, like nothing else in baseball.

The way that Justin Verlander struck out the first two Milwaukee batters of the game Tuesday night, you could think: That would be no-hit stuff if he could sustain it for nine innings.

(photo by Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)

I dislike feeling at home when I’m abroad.

— George Bernard Shaw 

Those were the days when you went for a beer in Paris and woke up in Corsica.

— Peter O’Toole

Everyone wishes a measure of mystery to their life that they have done nothing in particular to deserve.

— Jim Harrison

Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.

— Edward Gibbon

The rapine of an hour is more productive than the industry of years.

— Gibbon

I like to think of myself as a patriot, but even more so as a man. Where the two disagree, I say the man is right.

— Hermann Hesse

hessephoto.jpgPerhaps after the longing for experience, man’s greatest longing is for forgetfulness.

The greatest threat to our world and its peace comes from those who want war, who prepare for it, and who, by holding out vague promises of a future peace or by instilling fear of foreign aggression, try to make us accomplices to their plans.

Paradise does not make itself known as paradise until we are driven out of it.

The more sharply and unswervingly we pursue a thesis, the more irresistibly it will call for its antithesis.

— Herman Hesse

Among twigs and seaweed fibers in his fistful of sand are a couple dozen blue and green plastic cylinders about two millimeters high.

“They’re called nurdles. They’re the raw materials of plastic production. They melt these down to make all kinds of things.” He walks a little farther, then scoops up another handful. It contains more of the same plastic bits: pale blue ones, greens, reds, and tans. Each handful, he calculates, is about 20 percent plastic, and each holds at least thirty pellets.

“You find these things on virtually every beach these days. Obviously they are from some factory.”

However, there is no plastic manufacturing anywhere nearby. The pellets have ridden some current over a great distance until they were deposited here—collected and sized by the wind and tide.

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