Monday, September 23, 2013

Bruges Travel Photos

Bruges is a fairy-tale little town an hour away from Brussels that, if not for the tourists, would make you feel like you are in a different century. The canals and the houses with little terraces and backyard patios facing the water create quite the serene and romantic atmosphere; in fact, I am all for having one of those terraces and drinking my morning tea and reading a book surrounded by greenery and a beautiful view of the water. I got a little obsessed with that image when my cousin Tsveti and I strolled around Bruges that I wouldn't stop talking about them, and she kept teasing me.

Bruges is quiet and quaint, and I could easily picture myself spending a couple of quality weeks there in the summer painting some watercolors. With its picturesque buildings, the place is a painter's heaven. I am only bummed that I don't really speak French or Dutch. I really like getting immersed in a place, and it's just not the same when you don't speak the language.

I spent quite the pleasant day in Bruges, and while it lacks the hustle and bustle of bigger cities, it will help you relax and unwind from a stressful work week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brussels Travel Photos

Brussels is one of those cities in Europe that rarely ever get mentioned as top travel destinations, overshadowed by the grand European trifecta of London, Paris and Rome, and the architectural, cultural or historical gems of Venice, Prague, Vienna, and Barcelona, for example. People say that Brussels is a city that you would only want to go to once, but I tend to disagree. I found Brussels quite charming as a weekend getaway, and I wouldn't mind going back for more to enjoy the museums, architecture, the surrounding towns, some chocolate and a croque-monsieur for breakfast, and - wait for it - even some cherry beer! Yes, you heard that right...I drank beer, even if it was of the tastes-more-like-fruit-than-beer variety :) I am sooo not a beer person, but this one was OK. I also tried some of their famous rabbit in cherry beer stew with potatoes and their beef in cherry beer, which were both delicious hearty meals for autumn and winter. Of course you can't go to Belgium and not try the waffles or the speculoos biscuits from Maison J. Dandoy (even though you could also get a regular brand at a supermarket for about a third of the price - but hey, where's the touristy fun in that!).

Back to the city of Brussels...I found the architecture really beautiful, an engaging mix of Gothic buildings, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau. Furthermore, I simply love exploring cities that hide gorgeous buildings and little gems in every nook and cranny and at the end of every crooked street. I think I was also lucky enough to visit Brussels when the weather was quite nice; I am sure that I would not enjoy the normally gloomier city had I been rained on all day or something.

Another thing I would like to go back to Brussels for is the jazz scene, which I didn't have time to experience on this trip, but I imagine that one would be able to get their fill of jazz bands if they stay in the city for some time. I don't know if Brussels can be called a fun city in the sense of having a raging nightlife or whether it is a city that is great to live in, but it was great for an end of summer city break.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Photo Safari Around The Iskar Hunting Ranch

Last weekend I visited a very cool place that is just outside of Sofia, and yet I, along with most people I have now talked to about it, hadn't even known it existed until now. The Iskar Hunting Ranch is precisely what the name says during the hunting season, but for those of us who don't hunt, the ranch organizes photo safaris upon request.

They drive you around acres and acres of land where herds of red deer, does, stags, and moufflons graze and run, which is not something that you can see elsewhere in Bulgaria. The animals are really beautiful, and I regretted the fact that I don't have a trusty Canon EF 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 to get some real close-ups. I am resolved to rent one the next time I go to the ranch, perhaps later this fall when the trees change color or in the spring when everything is lush and green. Right now, in late summer, the fields are mostly yellow, at times making you feel like you are in Africa, minus the African wildlife.

Check out some of the photos of the animals. The young ones are particularly cute - little bambi-like sweeties with perky tails. They were adorable. 

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