Frozen in Bulgaria – Throwback Thursday

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One of my favorite parts of “just wandering” when I travel is how I accidentally stumble upon interesting local experiences just by being present.

In June, I was on Seabourn Odyssey and we made a port stop in Varna, Bulgaria. This was one of the places where I did not make travel plans and instead just decided to wander.  It was a beautiful early summer day – a great one to wander down a long shopping avenue and people watch.

In the late morning, we stopped for a bit of “corn in a cup” at a street cart (warm kernel corn mixed with my choice of dressings and seasonings – I picked spicy mayonnaise, garlic, and red pepper).  I was delighted to take the time to sit down and just enjoy the passersby.

Eating "corn in a cup" in Varna, Bulgaria.

Eating “corn in a cup” in Varna, Bulgaria.

And then suddenly overhead, sirens.  Loud sirens.  They reminded me of what we hear in the south when a tornado is coming.  We looked around to see what might be happening.

It was shocking to see that everyone but us was frozen in place!

The street looked like a gigantic game of freeze tag.  Pedestrians were frozen mid-stride.  Dozens of school children following a teacher stood like statues.

A minute later, it continued.  No one moved.

Going on two minutes later, sirens still going, people were still frozen.  We decided to freeze too out of an awkward need to assimilate.

In the third minute, the sirens suddenly stopped and the world became active again.  It was as if nothing had happened.

I researched the silence and discovered that we had experienced an annual memorial on the “Day of Botev“, a celebration of a Bulgarian national hero who tried to save the country from Ottoman invaders.  On June 2 at noon each year, Bulgarians freeze in place as air raid sirens go off across the country to honor this national hero.

When we returned to the ship, we discovered that most of our shipmates had missed this.  Some were off on guided tours and were not in a public place to experience this.  Others were out on their own and didn’t think to ask (or research) what had happened as there was no easy plaque or guidebook explanation for what had transpired.

And so they missed being frozen in Bulgaria, corn in a cup in hand, not because they didn’t plan, but because they did.

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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  1. I love stories like this. I’m sorry it took so long for me to discover it; and I am shocked no one else has commented upon it.

    Now every year, on June 2, you will think about this. This is awesome! My mom shares her birthday with Bastille Day, so every year I think about what liberty really means as an American while I hug my mom! The more we travel, the more complex human beings we become.

    But isn’t this why we travel? To become global citizens? To learn about something new and to share our own knowledge?

    Much warm fuzzy hugs to you and yours during this Thanksgiving and Holiday season!!! 🙂

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