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2 Espressos and a Frappe

[Sofia, Bulgaria]

One “danger” of spending one’s time sweeping the streets of Sofia is over-caffeination. It’s really not that hard to do. You meet up with a friend. You sit at a cafe to catch up. It’s too early for alcohol, so you order a coffee. You run a few errands. You sit at a cafe to rest up. It’s probably still too early for a beer, so you order another coffee. Before you know it, it’s like midnight, and you’re wide awake, and decide to count how many coffees you had for the day (and just to clarify, the word “coffee” in Europe means espresso), and it’s always more than 1 or 2, and the last one turns out to be at like 6 pm…. That’s sort of what happened to me on Monday.

My first espresso was, as usual, at home (mom makes espresso in an Italian coffee maker). Mom and I ran some errands in the morning but had some time to kill before another errand, so we sat down at a cafe on Vitosha Blvd, a pedestrian mall of sorts full of shops and cafes. My mom had a beer (this is what one orders here when they are thirsty), and I had a frappe – a foam-covered iced coffee drink usually made with instant coffee.

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Our errand involved meeting up with the mom of a Bulgarian friend living in LA who had asked me to bring a few small gifts to her. Of course, you can’t meet anyone in the city without sitting down at a cafe to chat, so what do we order? Another coffee! Just to summarize: it was 2 pm, I’d only been awake for 5 hours and I’d already had 2 espressos and 1 Frappe. And I still had people to meet and places to go.

My next stop was a double-decker bus that was parked by a cafe. The first floor of the bus was a mini info-center for cultural events in the city, and the second floor was outfitted with tables and a bar. The cafe is called Dada Cultural Bar, and the bus is the Dada Cultural Station.

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Both the bar and the bus are supported by the Sofia municipality and are part of Sofia’s bid to become a European Capital of Culture in 2019. I had walked by this place several times already with mom and was dying to check it out. I met up with my friend Roussi in the area and, without knowing this was on my list, she took me there. While we were chatting, a high school classmate walked by, so he ended up joining us. We figured out we had not seen each other since the ealry 2000s during some get-together of our entire class, so it was wonderful to hear what he’d been up to.

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With my high school classmate Boris

Roussi and I didn’t really have a chance to finish catching up though, and she invited me to visit her. Roussi graduated from my high school two years ahead of me, but I didn’t know her until 2008 when we met in Atlanta, GA, where she was pursuing a PhD. We connected through a mutual high school friend, and we discovered that we both had a black-and-white long-haired cats. To top it off, they have pretty much the same name – hers is named Jeff and mine is Jeffrey. She had moved back to Bulgaria in 2011, bringing Jeff and his sister Harmony with her. So, when we got to her place, first order of business was to snuggle with Jeff. We chatted for awhile, then went out to yet another cafe with her sister.


Having realized that, if I ordered coffee at every place, I would have ended up with half a dozen of them, I had started ordering juices by mid-afternoon. Still, the 2 coffees, 1 frappe and the excitement of the day (what with double decker buses, cats and randomly bumping into classmates), I had a hard time falling asleep. “I need to start ordering beer or wine mid-afternoon, that should help me sleep later”, I thought, as I finally drifted off into lala land.

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