Michael was so helpful to drive us out to our hotel nearby the Stansted airport that evening as well. The hotel was very modern. We even had to use the hotel key card to get the lights to turn on in the room. Very high tech! We weren't there long as we had to be up and out to the shuttle for the airport around 4am. Our flight was set to leave around 7am and since there was only one flight into Plovdiv that day, we knew we had to be on it!
We were flying Ryan Air. That was a new experence for Chris. I was prepared for the strict baggage limit, mad rush for seats, and somewhat frightening landings, but Chris was in for a real treat! Nevertheless, we made it! We landed in a more deserted part of Plovdiv surrounded by mountains. It was beautiful...and very warm! It was in the 90s while we were in town...much different from moderate England. We waited a bit at the airport before the shuttle arrived to whisk us off to the hotel. We saw lots of interesting scenery on the way to the hotel. Definitely a diverse place!
Soon after we landed, we logged into the free computers in the lobby to report to all concerned that we arrived. While we were taking advantage of the free internet, we ran into the bride's sister...which turned out to be a lifesaver. Let me back up a little bit...you see, we were in Bulgaria for my college roommate's wedding. We don't speak Bulgarian and we had been warned it might be tricky to make it to the church for the traditional Bulgarian ceremony. Enter the bride's sister...who also went to college with me! We were SO glad to see her and even more excited when she volunteered to let us join her and her husband on the way to the church!
At the traditional service, Chris and I understood nothing that was happening due to the language barrier, but it was fun to watch the various traditions and guess at their meaning. During this ceremony, everyone was standing so I was able to move around and get some nice pictures. After the ceremony, we briefly walked around the area with our gracious makeshift tour guide before we headed back to the hotel for the civil ceremony.
The civil ceremony was held on the front lawn of the hotel and was strikingly similar to the format of the weddings in America. While it was still in Bulgarian, it was a bit easier to follow. There was one unique tradition of breaking a loaf of bread while back to back in order to determine who would have control of the household. The bigger piece would control...and, of course, the bride got the bigger piece!
After that ceremony, there was a period of time where guests were able to present gifts to the couple prior to heading upstairs at the hotel for the reception. This was also unique and very neat.
The party went late into the night, but we had to turn in around 2am because we were headed off to tour Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, the next day.