The Balkans, Letter to Lily and Annie

Letter to Sofia

Miami, Florida
July 19, 2001

Dear Lily and Annie,

I got home about ten days ago and I think I am finally over my depression. I was so sad. Yesterday I put my pictures in an album and I almost started to cry. Today I went to the beach with some friends so now I am finally back among the living.

I had such a wonderful adventure in The Balkans.

Sofia was my favorite big city. I love the central area, the Aleksander Nevski Church, The Church of St. Sophia, the municipal buildings and the colorful, animated atmosphere. I had a chance to see a prayer service at the Banya Bashi Mosque and I also visited the large Central Synagogue.

I highly recommend that you see the synagogue. It is being restored to its original colors in the Spanish - Moorish style.

I had a few tasty meals at the Mozart Cafe. Two brothers from Lebanon own and operate it. When you have a chance, please give them my regards.

And finally, who can forget the salads at the Happy Restaurant? I think of you and the waitresses there when I tell my skeptical friends about the beautiful women I met in Bulgaria. Maybe I should just keep it a secret for myself.

After leaving Sofia I went to Blagoevgrad. I had a great afternoon and evening. I strolled around the central shopping area and the American University. I had a delicious dinner of chicken Thracian Style.

I also visited the Rila Monastery. It was quite huge and compelling.

The next morning I went to the bus stop to wait for the bus to Greece. You can imagine my apprehension as the bus was about thirty minutes late.

The ride to Greece was “Balkan Style.” It took one hour to cross the border out of Bulgaria. Then it took another hour to cross into Greece. After all that waiting, the driver went about 200 meters, pulled over and we all went for a coffee!

Greece was beautiful. I drove for two weeks through the mountains, to the sea, and to some charming towns. My favorite places were Delphi, Meteora and Alonnisos.

I tried to climb Mt. Olympus. I walked up and up for four hours before reaching the refuge. The next morning, facing another four-hour climb, I decided to head down instead. The climb, up and down, was spectacular.

I want to thank you both for your warm and generous hospitality. I will always think of you as my friends and advisors.

Thank you again. Big hugs to you both. Come visit any time.

Jan

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