After having dinner at Pizza Roma in Sofia on Thursday evening with our friends Paul and CeAnne, the four of us made our way back down the boulevard towards our apartment building. The wind had become bitterly cold, and we were walking right into it. Also, all of the shops that we had passed earlier on our way to dinner were now closed for the evening, even the pastry shop. CeAnne and I would have to wait for our sweets.
I spent most of that night in the apartment sending emails back and forth with my younger sister, who is such a source of strength and support, and also sending emails to my close friends about how our visits at the orphanage had went. Earlier in the week at the hotel, the free wifi provided at the hotel turned out not to have very strong signal so I had been unable to stay on the internet long enough to get an email out to anyone. I was definitely making up for lost opportunities in that department now that we were at the apartment.
Rob and I also got a chance to talk to our daughter that night. I literally cried with happiness at the sound of her voice. She wanted to know when Daddy and I were coming home, but more importantly, what kind of presents we were bringing her. I remember being the same way when my parents went out of town as a child. She did ask a few questions about her brother like whether or not he liked the ball or the stuffed dog that we had brought him.
Rob and I finally crashed somewhere in the wee hours of the morning completely exhausted from our busy day. When we awoke in the morning, I prepared some oatmeal that I had brought with me from the states for breakfast and then we decided to leave the apartment for a few minutes to look for souvenirs of our trip. Rob and I found a great little, and I mean little, shop near the apartment in a group of underground shops near the subway station. The shop was so small that once Rob and I were inside with the sales woman, no one else could enter the store. We purchased several pieces of pottery there, some small dolls, and a beautiful wooden carved plate. Our sales woman could not speak any English, but we managed. And, I think we got some really good deals in the process. We headed back to the apartment with our purchases to meet our coordinator from Vesta.
After our meeting with Rosie, Rob and I hooked up with CeAnne and Paul again, and we decided to head down the boulevard to do some more shopping and sightseeing. As we began walking down the boulevard, we noticed a trolley going down the street covered in Christmas decorations. To our delight, the trolley stopped and who should walk out of it to greet some children in front of us, but Santa Claus! This definitely put us in the Christmas spirit. We soon found a small shop that had lots of Christmas linens, ornaments and other holiday fare. Rob and I bought a few Christmas decorations, including a snowglobe for Julia, and then the four of us headed out to find a restaurant for our empty stomachs. We ended up eating at Pizza Roma again for our next meal, and once again, it was delicious. After we ate, we continued down the boulevard looking at shops and then finally toured a 10th century church.
We stopped in a few more shops and then began making our way back to the apartment. But, CeAnne and I were keeping our eyes peeled for the pastry shop. We were not going to miss our opportunity again! Can you blame us? Let's just say we all had a hard time making a decision!
After leaving the pastry shop, we walked back to our apartment building. CeAnne and Paul were leaving for the airport on Saturday much earlier than Rob and I (5:30 am) so we said goodnight to our friends so they could get some rest. I really wished that we could have stayed up all night and chatted together over coffee and pastries, but I also knew they needed sleep. However, Rob and I did set our alarm so that we would get up in time to see our friends off even though our flight was not leaving until 2:00 p.m that afternoon.
We were sad to see our new friends leave. It is hard to explain the bond that we formed through our shared experiences that week. We were truly glad to have gotten to know them and spend so much time with them. After they left, Rob and I suddenly felt very alone. We began packing all of our things, including our souvenirs and waited for Ettie's call to say she was downstairs to take us to the airport. Ettie arrived at noon, and we said goodbye (for now) to Sofia.
Three hours later, Rob and I arrived in Paris, France where we stayed the night. Our flight back to the states left at 8:30 the next morning, and by Sunday night around 7:00 p.m. we were back home in Tennessee.