The Bulgarian Team has been the Host of this project in the time period from the 14th of June to the 19th of June.
The first day was the day of the arrival of the teams from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Turkey. The teams stayed in a hotel not very far away from the center of our city. We booked a car, so that we could pick them up at the airport in Sofia. Luckily, everyone arrived safely.The first team to arrive was the Turkish one and after one by one arrived the other teams. An English teacher from our school was there to meet them and to make sure everything was fine with their checking in. The guests had some rest and then all of us had a welcoming dinner at the hotel. There was much laughing and talking- we were more than happy to meet these people again!
On Wednesday our guests had breakfast and were taken to our school where we had already been waiting for them. We met them one by one by giving each of them a piece of a special Bulgarian bread called “pitka”. After this there was a welcoming meeting at the school conference hall. There we introduced the summary day by day and gave each team a copy of the schedule. Then we had a coffee break to let our guests get some rest and have a snack. At 11:30 every team made a short presentation about their schools. They also introduced traditional folk dance. Everyone had a great time and it can be said that in this way we “broke the ice”. Time went very quickly so soon it was time for lunch. It took place at a school near ours where one of the main things the students are taught is cooking. The teachers and the students were offered three-course meal- a chicken soup, a dish called “musaka” and a specially prepared dessert. After everyone was full and rested we visited The Regional historical museum of our town. Everyone was given some free time afterwards. At 8p.m all of us met at a beautiful restaurant where there was another three-course meal waiting for them. There was also a surprise-a professional dancers performed some traditional Bulgarian dancing. Then the teachers were also invited to take part in the dancing. Everyone had a great time eating, talking about different things and mostly dancing.
On Thursday our meeting point was arranged to be in front of the town hall after our guests had some delicious breakfast, of course. We visited the municipality of Blagoevgrad. There a presentation about Blagoevgrad was made for them and a carefully prepared speech was given. They could ask questions and take pictures afterwards. Very close to the municipality was the next place we took them. They had the chance to be an audience to a “Pirin” ensemble rehearsal. In the end they could themselves enjoy the traditional Bulgarian dancing going to the stage and dancing the so-called “Pravo horo”. Everyone were very quick to learn the steps. Right after this we headed to “Dolene” village. A guided tour was arranged for everyone there. Much information was given and some things were even shown to both teachers and students. Everyone could see and sense the spirit, culture and traditions of Bulgaria, the very things that make Bulgaria what it is! A song was sung by three Bulgarian elderly ladies. Their singing was yet another part of Bulgaria that had to be shown and felt. To have some rest of all the emotions, the Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French teams were seated at a very beautiful place in this village to have lunch. It was prepared in front of their eyes to make them better see how food was and still is prepared in this beautiful country of ours. They had a wide range of things to choose from when it came to food. After lunch we went to Melnik-Bulgaria’s smallest town. They had the chance to taste wine and buy souvenirs and presents for their families. After that we all had dinner at the hotel. It was an exhausting day so we did not stay till late but still we had much fun.
On Friday a tour to the Bulgarian shrine-Rila Monastery was organized after breakfast. Everyone liked looking at the many interesting things this place has to offer and an evidence for that are the many pictures taken by everyone. Right after this journey our guests were taken to have lunch. Due to a quite tight schedule in the last days we decided to give everyone a free afternoon. And of course both students and teachers made the most of their time in our town during their free time- they tried some new to them meals, had nice talk over a cup of coffee, took yet more pictures, bought beautiful gifts. After that we all gathered for the certificate ceremony which was held outside. There was a concert-some students performed dances and some sang. Everyone were amazed by these students’ voices. The certificates giving was as expected very emotional and something to remember for a long time. We had also prepared different kinds of snacks for our dear guests-they enjoyed trying new things and then discussing them. Then we had maybe the most enjoyable dinner at a restaurant called “Tsarski club”. We talked and laughed and the Spanish team even showed some traditional dancing which was liked by everyone. We went to bed relatively late but it was completely worth it!
On Saturday after having breakfast all of us met in front of our school to take the bus to the capital of our country-Sofia. We visited the “St. Alexander Nevsky” Cathedral, the National Assembly and some other important places and buildings. Some free time was then given for lunch and coffee. The weather was for a very first time this week not so good and we expected it to start raining. Luckily we were in the bus going to the National History Museum when it started raining. By the time we arrived it had almost stopped yet umbrellas were given to everyone. The museum had something to offer for everyone so there was no a student or a teacher disappointed with having visited it. Later the group was taken to Sofia Ring mall to have some more free time. We went back to Blagoevgard and had our last dinner together.
On Sunday all teams were ready to say goodbye and leave. There was much hugging and kissing and saying Ï will miss you sooo much” or “You should definitely come again” and “Thank you for everything, you are so very welcome to my country”. So with tears in everyone’s eyes the guests were taken to the airport. We were so happy to welcome all these people in our country and we can only hope this was a worthy end of this amazing project or as we agreed to say -not our last meeting but our next! To be continued….!