Our first day in Bulgaristan we took the night bus up from Istanbul. It took us four visits and one phone call (conducted on our behalf a native speaker, no less) to make reservations with the bus company, find out the reservations had disappeared, figure out where they were picking us up, and pay for the tickets. (Jari: “It has been awhile since I tried to do a normal thing in Turkey and it just didn’t work.” Metro I think is perhaps not the best organized company.) At the border station, some fur-hatted Slav police gave us wafer cookies which, as we were all eating them, realized contained hazelnuts, and while this was dandy with most of us, Adair has a deadly allergy and so ran to the bathroom to throw them up and prevent anaphylactic shock. At 4 AM ish we got to Hiker’s Hostel in Plovdiv, where Anna and Puppy and I had stayed two years before. I had messed up the reservation this time (oops) so some of us got beds, and some of us slept on couches. The next morning we wandered through the old town and found a fabulous Argentine-Bulgarian grill deli place, got an enormous amount of takeout for cheap, and picnicked in a park. We also spent some time in a delightful gypsy neighborhood where everyone spoke Turkish, and day-drank on the ruins of a Roman road. It was nice to be away for awhile.